This week sees the launch of Mental Health and Your Church – a handbook for biblical care. Authored by Steve Midgley and Helen Thorne, it seeks to be a helpful resource for churches, spurring them on in their call to love one another well, even in the deep hardships of life. Here on the Biblical Counselling UK blog, we thought we would catch up with them and ask more about their new book.
What is your new book about?
Mental Health and Your Church is a book to inspire, equip and enable local churches, of all sizes, to walk alongside people who are struggling with their mental health. Our aim was to write something that moved beyond broad themes and good intentions. We wanted to be practical and describe some of the specific ways that people can be helped. To that end, it is a book of 3 parts. The first helps us understand what mental health and mental illness is, through a biblical lens. The second encourages us to think about what we can do as a church to love those in our congregation or community – in biblical and practical ways – and how we can do that sustainably and safely. The third and final section is made up of a range of case studies describing what it might look like for a church to engage really well with someone suffering from one of a series of specific mental illnesses. With examples throughout, it is intended to be a handbook that shows us how to respond to the unique individuals we meet each week.
Who is it for?
Whilst we hope it will be useful for anyone who longs to love their struggling brother or sister well, it may be particularly helpful to those in some position of pastoral responsibility. Whether someone is a pastor, a women’s worker, or a small group leader, we hope that Mental Health and Your Church will be fuel for their understanding and contain ideas for practical care that will enable people to keep caring wisely and well.
Why did you write it?
We wrote it because those who struggle in this area really matter to us. We both know what it is like to find life hard ourselves, we have both walked alongside many others who feel desperate and despairing, and we want people who are burdened to know real love and hope. And, whilst there is good practice out there, we long for our churches to be helped to do better in this area. Our church communities have extraordinary potential to help those who are struggling deeply. Where else can a person find grace like that offered by Jesus Christ? Where else will a rich and varied community stand in solidarity with people who so often feel desperately isolated and afraid?
What is your prayer for it?
Our hopes and prayers are that this book will do two things. First, that it will raise the profile of mental health issues in our churches. These struggles are all around us and yet are frequently overlooked, so we hope this book could be a catalyst to get people talking about what is still, so often, taboo. But we have a bigger ambition: not just conversation but also care. In the context of a seeming epidemic of mental health struggles, and with our professional services so often overrun, we long to see more churches respond with wise and loving gospel-shaped care that really impacts the lives of people for good.
How do we get hold of it?
You can order the book at The Good Book Company or via your local Christian bookshop or other online retailers.