by Rev. Jeremy J. McCants, MDiv.
I used to be a frequent volunteer at a homeless shelter back in North Carolina. Among the patrons I served there, I was quite amazed at one gentleman in particular who used a walker.
At first observation, when you see someone with a walker you assume that they actually need the walker, but not this particular fellow. I had seen this man actually leave his walker, walk at full stride, and return back to his walker as if nothing had happened. I honestly believed that if someone were to take his walker, he would legit walk around, in full strength and full stride, looking for that walker.
Inasmuch, while volunteering at this shelter I witnessed firsthand the ills of untreated mental health problems, and how people cope with such. Some of these people are so mentally and psychologically damaged that they do not know what they are capable of doing in their own power. For this man to think that he needs a walker speaks to that of being mentally crippled yet physically able. This scenario made me think of the Church. With the various theologies that we preach, teach and live, are we spiritually crippling the body of the church to the point where people think they need the support of a church in order to do ministry? Or even, what are we as Christians using as spiritual walkers through this Christian walk, pun intended, when we can walk at full stride?
It would not be far fetched to declare that some churches have been sites of spiritual malpractice. A recent study conducted by LifeWay research found that while there are high percentages of parishioners who support championing mental health within their congregations, only 49% of those polled said they rarely, if at all, talk about mental health issues with their congregations as a whole. The silence of the Church abroad in the face of mental health issues has really damaged the body of Christ. We have so many able-bodied people that can be disciples for Christ but as it has been, the church is always concerned about saving souls and not bodies. The church, at times, is so “heavenly-minded” that it is no earthly good, as the Elders might say.
Therefore, I leave you with this question: How can the Church and other organizations that do the work of Christ be more intentional in welcoming those who are challenged in regards to their mental state – but are fully abled in their physical state?
Rev. Jeremy J. McCants, MDiv. is a graduate of the Duke University School of Divinity. He works as the Executive Assistant to LIVEFREE’s Campaign Director Pastor Michael McBride.