Individuals are fatigued after collectively enduring the struggles we’ve faced over the past couple of years. The church has an opportunity to be a safe space for those in the community seeking solace and comfort during these times. From 2017 to 2021, when The American Beliefs Survey asked Americans about their fear of the future or the unknown. Those stating this was a high concern increased over that four-year time period by 57 percent. And those believing it to be of escalating concern increased by over 18 percent.
At the same time, when asked about their level of concern regarding a health crisis or illness, those stating it is a high concern increased by over 120 percent. And those believing it to be of escalating concern increased by 44 percent. In today’s uncertain climate, the church can be a lighthouse for those looking for direction. A safe space to work through personal challenges and navigate today’s changing societal landscape.
Ways to help your church become a safe haven for your congregation in uncertain times.
1. Offer times outside of service for your pastors or elders to address current issues.
This could be a casual round-table discussion. Or a speaker scheduled to address current issues or questions from the church. These discussions can address topics including current affairs and what the church can do about them. It can address difficult topics such as perceived inconsistencies in the Bible. Or explain resources allowing congregation members to become involved or help with the poignant topics discussed. By allowing your congregating to have an open conversation with your pastors, your church can become a comfortable space. Allowing them to ask questions and learn from each other.
2. Offer support groups for those caring for loved ones or for those battling illness themselves.
This could be through a ministry that delivers warm meals to families. Or offers counseling services for those struggling, or a way to find resources for those seeking professional help. By putting Christ at the center and offering a compassionate, safe environment for congregation members to struggle through these challenges you’re offering a compassionate way to address these challenges.
3. Helping your congregation protect their mental health.
During trying times many are struggling with or are more prone to depression, anxiety, and other mental health challenges. Reported levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and mental health challenges have risen dramatically over the years. This is not only true for congregation members but for church staff members as well. Offering resources specific to these areas will help you create an accessible way for your congregation, community, and staff to get the help they need. And maintain better mental health. Offering counseling by pastors or trained therapists can show your members a Christ-centered way to alleviate mental health challenges.
4. Offering prayer for those in need.
This can be presented right after service times. Or as a simple prayer request form that is distributed during the service or online. By offering an open stream of communication and an easy way for individuals to ask for help, you’re offering a hand to those who may not feel like they have anywhere else to turn.
By reflecting on Jesus and offering an inclusive, empathetic, and readily available hand, you and your congregation can love others as Jesus calls us to do. With today’s ever-evolving challenges, the Church must be a comforting, safe house for searching or downhearted people.
Andrew Esparza is the founder of Kingdom Analytics. This company has served over 300+ organizations doing good in the world by helping better connect them to their community, congregation, or customers using advanced demography research. He also has experience in the church world. Working for the largest high school ministry in the country at North Point Community Church. Andrew graduated from Arizona State University. His degrees are in Design Management and Tourism Development. He is also CITI certified in Social and Behavioral Research.