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A New Approach to Mental Illness in the Church

Written by Ed Stetzer Feed on . Posted in Ed Stetzer

We must stop ignoring mental illness and start graciously offering hope.

Churches, we need a new approach to mental illness.

Or, maybe not new, but a more Christ-like approach to mental illness.

A Question

“Why is this so uniquely difficult for Christians?” It was an astute question—the right question, really.

I was being interviewed by a reporter for a national publication in the wake of the tragic suicide of Matthew Warren, the son of Rick Warren. National news sources covered the story, many about mental illness and suicide, and people in churches were asking important questions.

But regardless of when these topics are raised, there is a unique challenge created for Christians, who believe God heals people. He heals our hearts of an all-encompassing sin condition, and He heals physical illness. But when we experience situations like Matthew’s, where clear healing did not take place, we are often overcome with unanswered questions.

The unexpected and horrifying can happen, and even though we believe in the miraculous and understand the freedom and forgiveness we have in Christ, we can’t help but feel that something is missing.

It happens every time we hear stories like this.

Some History

I wrestled with these questions as a young pastor, and literally had no idea how to deal with them. I learned through on-the-job training the level of deficiency in my understanding of mental illness.

Early in my ministry, I met a wonderful gentleman who loved the Lord with all of his heart, who had a deep passion for God, and who exuded the character of a man who had spent a lifetime getting to know Christ. He experienced seasons of life, though, when he would simply spiral down to a place of dysfunction. He struggled with bipolar disorder, and it would ...

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