The holiday season, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, often are symbols of family, hope and joy in the Christian community. But this is not true for all brothers and sisters of North Boulevard Church of Christ and our Murfreesboro community. According to a recent study completed by Lifeway Research, one in four American adults suffer from mental health issues, and those who are a part of the body of believers are no different.
Mental health problems are a hidden sickness that people are unwilling to admit to in the church. Why? Often times it is truly misunderstood by others in the church whose struggles are not with this issue. There is a misconception by many church-goers that people with mental illness can overcome their issues by simply more Bible study and prayer. Some folks struggling with mental health issues have felt much shame to even speak about their struggles with anxiety, depression, doubts, and fears. We in the Celebrate Recovery ministry at North Boulevard are not going to sit idly by as this issue exists and seems to be growing in our community and among the body of believers.
In 2017, we will begin a discussion about mental health issues in our church and community in Celebrate Recovery at North Boulevard Church of Christ. We will begin forming a CR Mental Health Initiative for those who are willing to attend our Monday night meetings in the Filling Station. This initiative will not include counselors but Mental Health Champions who will be resource guides to help those dealing with a host of mental health issues. Our MH Champions will be leaders of our CR ministry who have completed a Celebrate Recovery step study and have found new hope in healing in Christ Jesus as His disciples. They will be willing to deal confidentially and safely with anyone who attends and needs help. Since addictions are sometimes a part of those who deal with mental health issues they will address needs for individuals to attend regular Monday night meetings to begin a walk of relief and healing.
The process for developing this ministry at North Boulevard will be slow and deliberate so people are adequately informed and that prayer can be part of our focus. We seek to break the stigma of fear about having a Mental Health issue. Here is our basic Celebrate Recovery Mental Health Agreement that we will make for everyone that comes to our North Boulevard CR on Monday evenings.
The Celebrate Recovery Mental Health Agreement
• I will reaffirm daily that my identity comes from Jesus Christ and He who says I am. I will deny the lie that my identity is in my diagnosis.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. Galatians 3:36 NIV
• I will submit to the will of God in my life, knowing that while I may not understand the reasons why I have a mental illness. God is in control if I let Him work in my life. He will do what is best for me in my circumstances.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 ESV
• I will share my victories and my struggles with someone I trust on a consistent basis. In doing so, I refuse to live in isolation from others.
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. Ecclesiastes 4:9 NLT
• I will faithfully follow any treatment plans designed for me by my doctor and/or therapist. I will continue to take medications as prescribed by my doctor. I will meet with my doctor and/or therapist regularly to make sure the correct plan is in place.
The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel. Proverbs 12:15 NASB
• I will continue to work the Celebrate Recovery 12 Steps and 8 Principles as an ultimate goal to be more like Jesus in everything I do.
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT