Mental Health Sundays: What Can We Do as a Community?

On Sunday we were very blessed to have a few experts and professionals in the mental health field come and share with our church on a panel.

We believed it was important to hear from professionals in this area, who have given their lives to healing, caring, and supporting others. Receiving professional help is something that in the evangelical church receives some stigma in some circles but it is absolutely crucial.

So we are grateful to the panel for their discussion, which you can hear on our podcast.

We ended our time together with three simple challenges: welcome and include, pray, and continue the conversation.

First, as a next step we talked about welcoming and including others with mental health challenges. That this is something we can all practically do in any church you attend. We can create safe spaces for people to journey together, and to include those who often feel excluded by the church.

John Vanier and John Swinton write this,

If the church has anything to offer to people with mental illness (and indeed to anyone else), it is the provision of a space where they can truly feel that they belong.

And I believe that is so true, and absolutely needed.

Kathryn Green McCreight writes,

From a theological perspective, the most dangerous thing about mental illness is that it can lock us in ourselves, convincing us that we are indeed our own, and completely on our own, isolated in our distress.

This is why as churches, as communities of believers, as followers of Jesus we must welcome and include people who are struggling.

The second thing we reminded one another to do was to pray. That praying for others, and letting them know you are praying for them is a tangible reminder of our care and support. In some situations as we journey with people we are not always sure of everything we can do, but one thing we can always do is pray and remind them of that.

Miriam a woman who struggles with mental health writes this:

When you don’t know what to do or say, the one thing you can do is pray and let the person you are praying for know you are. It is a true expression of compassion and Christian love

And lastly, we reminded one another to continue the conversation. That this is the just the beginning and one thing we can do is to continue to learn and listen. We can learn more about mental health, and listen directly from those who are struggling. We can ask how we can help, and take action.

And through these three steps we can start to make a difference and changing the world, by changing someone’s world. As we remember to welcome and include, pray, and continue the conversation.

Mental Health Panel and Discussion

Mental HealthOn Sunday we are going to be continuing our conversation about mental health. This is a conversation that needs to be continued if we are going to break the stigma and exclusion surrounding it.

Last week we looked at some of the myths surrounding it, and this week we are going to be looking at what we can do as a community.

So to help us with this we are going to do something different, and have a panel of experts and professionals in the field share with us what we as a community can do to help in this area. And while we absolutely need professional’s care, expertise, and necessary work – we as a community are also needed. It is not enough for someone to find healing and stability with just professional intervention, people also need caring and supportive communities. So join with us to learn about mental health from professionals, and also what we as a community can do – to do our part!

So join with us to learn, and discover some next steps for us as a community.

3 (Marks): Journeying with Others: In the Beginning We all Need a “Helper”

traces-old-shoes-on-the-path-1425216On Sunday we looked journeying with others again. This is a key mark of a follower of Jesus, that they don’t follow him alone. Because we all need others, we need support, direction, and love. Life is meant to be lived together.

And this is actually what we discover way back in the very beginning. God shows up to Adam and says, “It’s not good for man to be alone”. And here I don’t think he is just talking about Adam specifically but humanity in general. That we were not created to live and journey in this world alone.

What is quite amazing is that pre-sin Adam still needed someone. That it’s not sin and challenges that causes us to need to journey together, but something in our very makeup. That it is simply put not good for humanity to journey alone. We all need others. We need a “helper” or “companion”.

Now this word in English gets read through patriarchal lens and it makes it seem like what Adam needs is a domestic wife to support him. That he needs a little helper at home. And this is not only demeaning to women but to God too, because that is not what God is saying.

God is actually saying it is not good for Adam to be alone, he needs a helper. He needs someone to save him, to protect him, to sustain him, to shield him, or to journey with him. The word “ezer” (helper) is most often used in the Psalms to refer to God’s activity of saving, sustaining, protecting, rescuing, or giving hope. So a “helper” is not a nice little addition to your life, but an active presence that guarantees your future through saving, sustaining, protecting and rescuing.

God is saying I believe that we all need those people in our lives. We all need companions who help us to journey into life, because life isn’t meant to be lived alone. This was the main point on Sunday, that life is meant to be shared with others. So I ended with a very specific challenge, to journey with two other people closely for the rest of this year. I truly believe that it isn’t good to live alone, so I challenged all of us to journey with others closely for this whole year. Two people at minimum (and your spouse doesn’t count) because we all need companions to rescue, protect, help, save, and give us hope.

For some of us we are doing this, and just need to keep doing this. For others we have friendships that can become deep and committed but we need to invest in them. And for others we don’t know where to start with relationships, but we are called to pray for them. Because God still wants to make sure all of us don’t live alone but with life-giving relationships.

So whether that means investing in your good relationships, investing in your potential relationship to become good ones, or investing in prayer for God to help you create some. We are all called to invest in relationships to live with and for one another. Because God is right, “It is not good to live alone”, we are called to live together.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: Life was meant to be shared with others, and we need to journey together

Teaching Points:

  • It is easier to be selfish and self-interested in our world, but it not better
  • That we need to be journeying with others, if we want to journey with Jesus
  • Life is not complete without someone to share it with
  • “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul”. Simone Weil
  • Commit to journeying closely with 2 other people this year

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? What relationships have impacted you most? Which relationships do you have now that are closest? Who have been your “ezers” or helper and companions in life? Are there people in your life who are this to you now? Are there people in your life who you are like this for them? Can you commit to journeying with at least two people for this year?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Journeying together isn’t just for adults but for kids and families as well. Studies show us that kids need 5 adults caring and pouring into their lives to truly thrive. So spend sometime thinking about the adults who can pour into your family, and what family you can pour into. Who are you journeying with as a family? And go spend time with them this week.

Challenge for the Week: Commit to journeying closely with 2 other people this year

Who are Your Journeying With?

Who you journey with is often who you become like.

This is just true, and it’s so subtle that we don’t often see it. But we end up becoming like those who are around us.

So on Sunday we are going to be talking about journeying together and why it matters. Why we are made to be together. Why we each need a companion, a friend, and a community we are moving with.

So why not think about that right now? Who are you journeying with? What are they like? Because it’s probably what you are becoming like. 

Do they invest in you? Do you invest in them?

Because the truth is relationships are sacred, and are meant to be shared. So who are you creating sacred friendships with, and how are you sharing them?

And come Sunday we’ll talk more about journeying with and deeper with those sacred relationships.

Being Missional Isn’t Just About Acting, but About Seeing

1395871_19682756A lot of discussion about being “missional” focuses on doing. Being missional means partnering in what God is doing all over the world, and in your neighbourhood. Being missional is about remembering that Christians are geared for mission – to serve, love, and change lives. And being missional matters.

Many of the seminars and speakers I’ve heard focus on some great actions to get us out into the community and caring. Things like throwing BBQ’s, being a real-life blessing to those around us, and caring for those who are hurting in our communities. Great stuff.

But I think the real art to being missional isn’t about doing, but about seeing.

The truth is God is already active all around us. God is doing things in our neighbourhoods, families, and communities right now. We follow an active, and dynamic God. A God on the move.

And so while certainly it is important to move and “do mission” with God – the most important practice is to first learn to see where God is moving. We, as Christians, need to become experts at spotting the initial moves of God’s Spirit in our lives, communities, and neighbourhoods. We need to become so in-tune with God’s Spirit that we catch his harmonies in conversations, that we sense his movements in the lives around us.

It’s important to act, but first it’s important to have “eyes to see” where God is already moving.

So how do you do that? Well sometimes the best answer is the simple answer. Start to pray. Pray as you walk around your street. Pray as you talk with neighbours and families. Pray that God will give you eyes to see how he is already moving around you, and how you can join him.

And trust me – this is a prayer God not only will answer, but I think one he wants to answer.

Baptisms, Faith, and Why You Need Others in Your Life

445128_29914509This Sunday was a beautiful Sunday, because it was baptism Sunday. There is something beautiful, special, and wonderful about joining with others as they commit to following Jesus publicly. There is something so moving about seeing and hearing people’s testimony and desire to follow Jesus.

 

And that’s what this Sunday was about.

 

But it was also about recognizing a key of faith: you can’t do it alone.

 

The only reason we had baptisms is because people invested in others. Is because people realized they can’t do faith on their own, and had others join their journey.

 

We often believe in our culture that it’s all about our own personal willpower, drive, and strength that leads to success. But not only isn’t that true, it’s one of the most damaging lies in our world. The truth is we are only as strong as those who are journeying with us.

 

There is an African proverb that says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together”. And that is true.

 

And so on Sunday we looked at how we need each other. But we ended with a very personal but important question: who are you journeying with? Who is close enough to you to support, care, and miss you when you drift? Who knows your struggles and your strengths? Who are you journeying with, and who is journeying with you?

 

This question isn’t a light one, but a crucial one to our faith. If we want to not only start well in life, but finish well in life – we need one another.

 

So we gave a challenge on Sunday. That if you can’t think of someone who is journeying with you, to invite someone in. Ask for a mentor, find a spiritual guide, don’t go it alone – but go together.

 

So that was our challenge on Sunday, and it’s a personal one, but it’s a needed one. Because we all need someone.

 

 

 

Sermon Notes:

 

Big Idea: Journey with others

Teaching Points:

  • It’s not starting that’s hard, it’s finishing.
  • We think succeeding is about us, and our willpower. It’s actually about others, and who is journeying with us.
  • We need others to care for us, support us, and miss us when we start to drift.
  • We simply can’t do this thing called Christianity alone.
  • The friends you have will often determine the quality and direction of your life.
  • To think of one person you can invite to walk with you this year.

 

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new? What were your first impressions to the topic for today? Does it seem to you that growing older does limit your future? How would you answer the question “Who are you trusting to guarantee your future?” What do you believe your future looks like right now? What does your future look like with God involved? What does he want to do in your future?

Discussion Questions for Young Families

Today talk with your kids about their futures. Ask them what they want to do, and who they want to be. Today learn from your kids. Sense the enthusiasm, the belief, the sense of excitement and possibility. Learn from them, and seek to bring that into your relationship with God today.

 

Challenge for the Week: To think of one person you can invite to walk with you this year.

Baptisms and Walking with Others

772301_79279389This Sunday we are having Baptisms to end our series on “Finding a Fresh Start”. Could there be any better way to end talking about finding a fresh start, than seeing baptisms? That’s what they are all about – starting fresh. Saying I want to follow you Jesus, going down into the waters, and coming out confirmed in Christ’s death and resurrection.

It’s a beautiful thing.

 

But something we will learn this Sunday is this too, it is not an individual thing. Baptisms are a corporate thing, body-thing, community thing.

 

And while this distinction might seem small it isn’t. It is crucial and important. Because the truth is that while we can find a fresh start on our own, we can’t keep a fresh start going on our own. We need others investing and involved in our lives. Faith is a communal journey, not an individual journey.

 

So on Sunday as we see people take a next step, and see a fresh start we are also going to be reflecting on this question: “whom are we journeying with”? Because faith is passed on through others, sustained with others, and developed with others. So who are the others in your life?

 

That’s our question for Sunday, and it’s a good question for today too.

Loving Your Neighbours and Why No One Can Tell You How

583245_74851881No expert can tell you how to best love your neighbour…Only the Spirit can guide you into faithful presence, which is the love of Christ. Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, and Dwight Friesen

I think that this quote is just so – challenging and true. We know as Christians we are called to move out into our neighbourhoods, and love our neighbours. If we aren’t loving our neighbours well, we aren’t following Jesus well. That’s just true.

But the difficulty is in how to do this. We often at least in Christian circles, look to experts to tell us this. And if you don’t believe me, just look at how popular conferences and seminars on “How to Be Missional” are. They are everywhere (and I’ve led some…).

The point though is that no expert can adequately tell you how to love your neighbour. And to love our neighbours well, we don’t need more experts, we need a change in focus. We need to focus on Jesus and his Spirit.

It is only Jesus that can truly lead us into loving our neighbours well. It is only through listening to his Spirit that we can discern the right ways and the right times to show love in practical action. In all honesty what we probably need is less experts in our lives, and more dependence on Jesus. This isn’t a knock against practitioners, experts, and people who are inspiring us to live like Jesus. But that’s just the point, they can only inspire us to live like Jesus. It is only Jesus Christ himself who can direct us to live like him, who can transform us into his likeness.

So loving our neighbours is crucially important. And experts and practitioners are important too. But what is most important is learning to listen and follow Jesus and his Spirit well – because that’s the true first step in learning to love our neighbours well.

Cliched or Not it’s True : We All Need Each Other

1103018_28726094This week at church we are going to look at a clichéd statement that is absolutely true. We are going to look at this statement, “We need each other”.

Unfortunately this is something that is said all over the place. It’s said in companies, in advertising, in banks, in schools, in communities, and it’s applied to almost every situation. I’m not bemoaning that fact but sometimes when something becomes ubiquitous it also becomes meaningless.

Well come Sunday we want to restore some of the depth to that statement, “We need each other”. Because the truth is that statement is incredibly Biblical. There are over 50 references to “one another” statements in the Bible. Statements that direct us to the fact that we need each other, that we need one another, that we cannot get through life alone.

And this is so true, and obvious, but it is something we often fail to actually live out. So often when we are in difficulty and we do need others, it’s the time we shut others out. So often we get so busy that our commitment to “each other” is to pray for them when we happen to think of it; rather than deeply committing to another person and to journey with them.

So that’s what we are looking at on Sunday, the story of Ruth, and the power of journeying with someone.

But before we get there why not spend some time reflecting. Who has journeyed in your life that changed you? Who committed to you and changed you because of that commitment? Why not thank them, and then ask God this radical question that we will explore on Sunday: who should you be committing to?

The Gospel Seeks the Flourishing of Life For All

NewParishBookCover4I don’t normally review books here. It’s not that I don’t read books, it’s just that most of the books I read I don’t really think most people would like. The reason I say this is because whenever Krista sees what I’m reading she says, “Andrew…why?” I figure her reaction is pretty much standard for most people.

But I recently read a book I really enjoyed, called The New Parish, by Paul Sparks, Tim Soerens, and Dwight Friesen. And there  was one line or idea that I really appreciated (among others). It’s this:

The gospel bids us to the seek the flourishing of life for all.      The New Parish

I just think that line is beautiful. The Gospel bids us to seek the flourishing, extending, and growing of life for all – all around us. I think this is a beautiful mission statement for Christians. You are to help life flourish in your community, your neighbourhood, your family. You are to be not only a source of life, but a catalyst for life all around you.

And this idea is deeply rooted in Scripture, because Jesus came to give us life abundant (John 10:10). I don’t think that was just so we could experience life, that was so we could share life.

So my question for you is this: how can you seek the flourishing of life for your community? How can you be a catalyst of life to grow in your neighbourhood? How can you share life with your family?

And the beauty of those questions is that they don’t have to be hard things. They can be simple but life giving things. What about throwing a party so neighbours can actually get to know one another? What about cleaning up a park so kids can play? What about mowing a neighbour’s lawn? What about dropping off food for your sister? What about watching your brother’s kids?

These are simple, but they are life giving things. And as the authors of the New Parish remind us – the gospel is about giving life for all, and the flourishing of all.