It’s been so encouraging to hear stories of our churches engaging with the local community, whether it be through Art installations in coffee shops in Birmingham, running Community Festivals in Coventry; missional groups reaching out into prisons; hangouts on the football fields or mother and toddler groups. There are so many unique connection points for people to engage with ‘Church’ and connect to some form of community. Many of our churches run groups as a means of reaching out to the community.
So if you want to learn about parenting or the prophetic – we can sign you up!! Our “eating nice food” groups all have spaces. The “running round the park until you’re exhausted” group actually has A LOT of spaces. But let me tell you about one group you cannot join. Of the 60 or so groups we run as a church, there’s only one that is completely full. In fact it has a waiting list. The one that’s over-subscribed?
It’s the Self-Esteem Club we run in a local primary school.
Children stay on after school to learn how to battle anxiety, low mood and recognise their inherent God-given value. We’re using the world’s language to demonstrate the Father’s love. Troubling news and statistics about our nation’s deteriorating mental health are all around us. Last week’s paper carried no less than 8 headlines about mental health related issues and as I write Theresa May has felt the need to appoint a “Minister for Suicide”. The greatest killer of men under the age of 50 isn’t cancer or cars. It’s themselves.
But you want to know the thing which shocked me the most? It was the realisation that the mental health needs in our society are now so acute that seven and eight year olds are queueing up to join courses.
So that’s why we’ve decided to make Mental and Emotional Health the main topic for next month’s Pastoral Forum. We’ve got Dr Roger Bretherton (a lecturer, Clinical Psychologist and expert in Positive Psychology) and Dr Gill Cronau (a GP with a specialism in mental health) both sharing. She’s got advice, wisdom and stories of breakthrough to share with us. The conference is happening at Kings House in Bedford from Wednesday 7th to Thursday 8th November, and you can find more details here
Obviously I hope that you can find the time to join us. But more than that I’m hoping that we can increasingly become carriers to hope to the desperately needy society around us.
Written by Paul Johnson