Is your church “Seeker friendly?”

The mistake

“No good Christian will ever suffer from depression.” That’s what I heard a church leader say to 2,000 people at a large conference. It makes you wonder if he ever really listened to the people he was pastoring. Good thing he was in administration.

As most of you pastor/leaders already know, depression is common both inside and outside the church. Experts estimate that 10-20% of the population is suffering from depression. My guess is that the percentage of depressed people in churches is actually a bit higher than in the population. That’s because depressed people are seekers. Seekers look for churches that could help them.

If a depressed seeker visits your church, what will they experience?

If your church pretends that depression doesn’t exist in Christians, like the pastor quoted above, then you may be offering false hope to a seeker. They may join the church hoping that the promises of continuous peace, love and joy will come true in their lives. If their depression and emotional baggage is never addressed, a few months later they will start to question the promises they heard. If no one acknowledges the reality of their struggle then they will become disillusioned and leave the church to continue their search elsewhere.

The solution

Let me suggest another model that I have seen working well in many churches.

These churches recognize that many of their members are struggling with mood and emotional issues. These issues are holding them back from successful lives at home, work and church. The churches run home recovery groups that are open to anyone searching for a Christian perspective on their struggles. In these groups they can finally be honest about themselves and hear how much God cares about them and has provided tools to help. The group leaders are not trained professionals but Christians who care.

There are lots of resources available for churches who want to start recovery groups. Many churches use my book Emotionally Free and the Transformation Kit to show in home groups. By creating a safe place for people to be honest about their struggles, seekers are growing in faith and staying in the church.

Do you want your church to be “Seeker friendly?” Then create a place where the emotional needs of people can be met with the practical and loving application of God’s truth.

I have created books, seminars and recordings that will easily explain the diagnosis and treatment of mood disorders from a Christian perspective. You can see links to many of my resources here.

Leadership Q & A

  1. What is the best church growth strategy?
  2. Are you burning out?
  3. Is suicide the unpardonable sin?
  4. Can a person be too supportive of your ministry?
  5. Are you afraid of psychiatry?
  6. What is the unpardonable sin?
  7. Is fear a sin?
  8. Is counselling your gift?
  9. What is the key question to ask?
  10. Does depression have spiritual symptoms?
  11. Is your church “seeker friendly?”

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