Baptist Press Archive

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

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  • Mental health & the church: 'People are looking for mercy'

    by David Roach, posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (4 years ago)

    NASHVILLE (BP) -- Pastors must learn how to help troubled souls and remove the stigma associated with mental illness, Rick Warren and Tony Rose said in a video discussion with Russell D. Moore, president of Southern Baptists' Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.

    "The phrase 'mental health' or 'mental illness' does not equal crazy," Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., said in the video posted at the SBC entity's website. "A lot of people think that mental illness means people out of touch with reality. Ninety-nine percent of us -- and I include all of us -- struggle with mental health issues, and we're not out of touch with reality. Depression is a mental health issue. Worry is a mental health issue. Compulsion is a mental health issue.... Fear is a mental health issue."

    "I have seen almost the entire spectrum of mental and emotional issues among the precious people of God ..."

    -- Tony Rose, Mental Health Advisory Group chairman

    Warren spoke of a brain disorder he has that causes him to get dizzy and experience partial blindness when he has an adrenaline rush. The disorder once made him faint as he stood up to preach, leading to a years-long struggle with fear and depression that included trips to Christian counselors, he said.

    "When I start sharing stuff like that, then that causes my church to be able to open up about" their own mental health issues, Warren said.

    Rose, chairman of the Mental Health Advisory Group formed by SBC Executive Committee President Frank S. Page, said pastors should learn to evaluate the causes of people's troubled souls so they can provide spiritual help as needed and refer individuals for medical help when appropriate. He referenced as a good model the pastoral procedure followed by Puritans, Christians who sought to reform the Church of England's doctrine and worship in the 1500s and 1600s.

    First, Puritan pastors evaluated whether a person trusted Christ as their Lord and Savior, Rose, pastor of LaGrange (Ky.) Baptist Church, said. Then they evaluated whether the troubled individual suffered from "melancholy" -- a broad label the Puritans used to describe conditions akin to what today's mental health professionals refer to as depression.

    Puritan Richard Baxter represents a "classic" example of pastoral wisdom regarding mental illness, Rose said. Baxter once said according to Rose, "Preaching a man a sermon with a broken head and telling him to be right with God is equal to telling a man with a broken leg to get up and run a race."

    Pastors also must evaluate whether a troubled person is experiencing the consequences of sin, an attack of Satan or a sense of the Holy Spirit's desertion, Rose said in the video, released in mid-July.

    Pastors aren't the only ones who should be concerned with mental illness, Warren said. All relationships, minds and bodies are affected adversely by the Fall of man, and believers should try to alleviate that brokenness wherever they can, he said.

    Warren, whose son Matthew committed suicide last year following a battle with mental illness since childhood, noted that one in five children struggle with mental illness. The average age for the onset of depression used to be in the 30s, Rose said, but now is 14.

    Given the pervasiveness of mental illness, dealing with it compassionately is a challenge that churches must embrace, the pastors said. Read More

  • Mental health ministry gets larger emphasis

    by Rebecca Wolford, posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (4 years ago)

    Photo by Roger S. Oldham/SBC LIFE
    NASHVILLE (BP) -- SBC entities are highlighting the importance of mental health ministry in response to a motion at the 2013 annual meeting. The motion also prompted Frank S. Page, president of the SBC Executive Committee, to name an advisory group to gather suggestions for him about ways Southern Baptists can more effectively minister to people with mental health challenges. Read More

  • Court signals hope for housing allowance

    by Tom Strode, posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (4 years ago)

    "[W]hen a group of atheists tries to cajole the IRS into raising taxes on churches, it’s bound to raise some eyebrows."

    -- Luke Goodrich

    CHICAGO (BP) -- Supporters of the ministerial housing allowance should be hopeful about a federal appeals court's anticipated ruling on the 60-year-old provision, a religious liberty lawyer said after oral arguments in the case. Read More

  • South Asia flooding stirs call for prayer & relief

    by Susie Rain, posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (4 years ago)

    SOUTH ASIA (BP) -- Floodwaters sweeping across northern India and Pakistan have killed more than 450 people. Hundreds of thousands more have fled their homes as helicopters and boats raced to save marooned victims in one of the worst floods to hit this area in 60 years. Read More

  • Ministry readiness focus draws Baptist leaders

    by T. Patrick Hudson, posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (4 years ago)

    Screen capture
    KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP) -- With ministry readiness as its primary focus, the inaugural For the Church Conference at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary drew pastors, students and ministry leaders from across the region. Read More

  • Familyfest pulls volunteers from 13 states

    by WMU Communications, posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (4 years ago)

    BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) -- More than 220 missions volunteers from children to senior adults gathered to serve in eastern Kentucky during WMU's Familyfest. Participants represented churches, groups and families from Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. Read More

  • EVANGELISM: 3 Circles & Engage24

    by Kevin Ezell, posted Wednesday, September 10, 2014 (4 years ago)

    Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, encourages pastors to provide evangelistic training and opportunities for church members through two initiatives -- 3 Circles: Life Conversation Guide and Engage24. "[Y]our church will gain a collective momentum that can't come from any other kind of engagement," Ezell writes. Read More