This evening, Bro Ted Witzig, who acts as Clinical Director for Apostolic Christian Counseling and Family Services, gave a talk on both his organization and how we as a church should respond to mental health issues. During it, I was able to take a few quotations and hopefully give y'all a sense of what he said.
1. ACCFS is not the somewhere to go after the church fails, but is acting out the church's success.
Basically he discussed the approach, issues, and myths that surround these counseling services and how they are not separate from the church, but a vital part of it. As such we, as a body, should not try to cover up mental health issues, but remember the resources that we have available. Part of this process is tearing down the mental blocks and emotional barriers that stand in the way of allowing these groups (and thus the church) to live out their gifts.
2. You don't have to know what to do; you just have to do what you know.
He reminded us that although we tend to be comfortable helping people with physical disabilities by visiting them, offering prayers, sending cards, inviting them to lunch, etc, we don't react the same with people who are suffering from mental illness (even though we should). We need to be willing be there for them, even when we don't have the answers. We're called to, as NT Wright says, live and pray where the world is in pain. We're not called to fix their problems or run away from them. We are called to be there.
3. Take off your shoes, for church ground is holy ground.
When the church works in the world (whether this is calling someone up, crying with them, or repairing the shingles on a leaky roof), God's saving and redeeming presence is really and truly present. What more could we want out of sacramental living? Part of this is also remembering the limitations of those around us and living with them in humility. He noted that our expectations of our ministers are out of line. He's right. We need to live with them as people, not as images of perfection, who are striving for servant hood.