The COVID-19 pandemic has brought illness, grief, stress, and it is taxing our mental health. Although it is a trendy word in our culture, self-care is important and biblical. We also need to be sure that our congregations offer structured caring ministries so that we can care for one another. Many of us are grieving the deaths of loved ones and the everyday losses that continue to add up. Youth and children are also facing these issues. Pastors need assistance in guiding folks through these unprecedented times.
We recommend the following resources for supporting mental health for clergy, church members, and your community. Below you will find resources for:
Be sure to review the online and other resources listed on the NC Conference Mental Health Resources page.
Rest in the Storm: Self-Care Strategies for Clergy and Other Caregivers by Kirk Byron Jones. Drawing from biblical, theological, and sociological sources as well as personal experience, author Kirk Jones discusses the fundamental importance of self-care for clergy and other professionals engaged in helping people. Filled with creative and practical strategies for integrating self-care into vocational life, this compelling resource identifies the factors that influence overload and outlines plausible strategies for escaping such bondage.
Tending Body, Heart, Mind, and Soul: Following Jesus in Caring for Ourselves by Mary Jane Gorman. During the days of his ministry, how did Jesus care for his own body, heart, mind, and soul? Gorman looks behind and between the words of Jesus to discover his humanity, painting a vivid portrait of the life he called us all to live.
Faithful and Fractured: Responding to the Clergy Health Crisis by Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell and Jason Byassee. This book brings together the best in social science and medical research, quantifying the poor health of clergy with theological engagement about what can be done about it. In addition to physical health, the book treads deep into the territory of mental health and spiritual well being and suggests that increasing the presence of positive mental health may prevent future physical and mental health problems for clergy. The authors weave concrete suggestions tailored to clergy throughout the book.
Soul Reset: Breakdown, Breakthrough, and the Journey to Wholeness (DVD study) by Junius B. Dotson. As he recalls his own journey through grief, depression, burnout, and emotional breakdown, Dotson is passionate about calling for a Soul Reset for pastors, church leaders, and all disciples of Jesus Christ. This is a 6-week churchwide study for everyone who moves at breakneck speed through their daily lives, often relying only on their own strength to bring God’s kingdom on earth.
The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough, And to go to bed at night thinking, Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging.
Becoming a Healthier Pastor: Family Systems Theory and the Pastor’s Own Family by Ronald W. Richardson. When anxiety arises, unresolved familial issues and old family patterns return, often unhelpfully. Richardson explores these patterns, how they operate in church situations, and how pastors can do their own family-of-origin assessment. His volume is a standard tool for analysis of patterns in ministerial behavior and developing strong personal effectiveness.
Small Group Studies
Hope for Hard Times: Lessons on Faith from Elijah and Elisha by Magrey R. deVega. Discover how these two great, biblical prophets trusted God to find a way for them. Read these stories, pray, and listen as you receive encouragement and guidance for whatever you are facing today. This book has a companion leader’s guide and short videos for each session on YouTube.
Virus as a Summons to Faith: Biblical Reflections in a Time of Loss, Grief, and Uncertainty by Walter Brueggemann. This slim book applies Brueggemann’s deep understanding of scripture to the experience of COVID-19. He calls us to renew and live into our relationship with God. Will Willimon calls it “a quite wonderful book.”
Unafraid: Living with Courage and Hope in Uncertain Times (DVD study) by Adam Hamilton. Adam Hamilton explores the worries and fears most of us experience. Your small group can learn to identify fears and discover practical steps for overcoming them…all in the light of Scripture and a faith that promises again and again that we can live with courage and hope. This study can be done churchwide with resources available for all ages including a helpful children’s picture book, Eek! Said Amy.
A Way Through the Wilderness: Growing in Faith When Life is Hard (DVD study) by Rob Renfroe. In the Scriptures, we see that often God’s people went through a wilderness experience, and these experiences changed them in profound ways. Rob Renfroe explores the wilderness experience—what it is, how we get there, why God allows it, and how we can get through it God’s way so that we learn the lessons that can be learned only in the desolate seasons of life when we are totally dependent on God.
Jeremiah: Daring to Hope in an Unstable World (DVD study) by Melissa Spoelstra. This award-winning women’s study brings a message of hope in times of uncertainty based on the biblical prophet Jeremiah. Spoelstra provides women six guidelines for intentional living to overcome fear, worry, and doubt as they surrender their will to God’s and put their hope in Him alone.
The Awakened Life: An 8-Week Guide to Student Well-Being by Sarah E. Bollinger and Angela R. Olsen. The Awakened Life is an eight-week small group curriculum designed to equip chaplains, collegiate ministers, and spiritual leaders in helping college students navigate emotional disturbance, build resiliency, and learn psychosocial skills. It teaches age-appropriate mindfulness practices written from a United Methodist lens that students can use to tackle anxiety and learn to navigate the challenges of adulthood with equanimity.
- Fail: What to Do When Things Go Wrong (DVD study) by Matt Miofsky
- Finding Peace in an Anxious World edited by Erin James-Brown
- You Are Never Alone: Trust in the Miracle of God’s Presence and Power (DVD study) by Max Lucado
- You’ll Get Through This: Hope and Help for Your Turbulent Times (DVD study) by Max Lucado
- Soul Keeping: Caring for the Most Important Part of You (DVD study) by John Ortberg
- Walking with God in the Desert (DVD study) by Ray Vander Laan
Grief and Loss
A Crazy, Holy Grace: The Healing Power of Pain and Memory (DVD study) by Frederick Buechner and Michael S. Poteet. Learn about the healing power of memories and how to use past goodnesses and graces from God to close old wounds. Study questions and prompts, which are included for each of Buechner’s essays, lead your group into discussions about letting go, the power of hidden secrets, rising from the ruins, and listening for the quiet voice of God.
Broken to Peace. (DVD) Using their pain to educate, inspire and help others, these straight-from-the-heart Christians share the real-life troubles–breast cancer, job loss, addiction, losing a child, clinical depression and physical abuse that made them fall to pieces, so that God could lead them broken… to peace.
Beyond the Broken Heart: A Journey Through Grief (DVD study) by Julie Yarbrough. This is an eight-week support and ministry program for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Author Julie Yarbrough chronicles her personal experience combined with a deep love of Scripture and years of leading grief support groups to create an authentic and deeply personal exploration of the grief journey.
Changed Forever: Grieving the Death of Someone You Love. (DVD) Testimonies of people who have recently experienced the death of a loved one, as well as experts in the field, talk about how to slowly integrate the loss you have experienced and the grief that comes with it, into a life that is changed forever.
Good Grief by Granger E. Westberg. This book describes what happens to us whenever we lose someone or something important. We all need a better understanding of the small grief in life as well as those larger grief experiences that can overwhelm us.
Merry Christmas? (DVD) The Christmas holidays can be a reminder of what is missing in life. Three individuals share the stories of how they have found the grace to cope with their losses and move ahead in faith. The host brings perspective to these stories as he unveils how the Christmas story speaks to hurting people.
- Through a Lens Darkly: Grief, Loss and C. S. Lewis (DVD)
- Exploring the Sacred in Death and Dying by Ron DelBene (DVD study)
- Beyond Death’s Door: Help for the Grieving Process After Someone You Love Has Died (DVD)
- Growing Through Grief (DVD study) by Howard Clinebell
- Your Companion through Grief by Greta Smith
The Caring Congregation: How to Become One and Why It Matters by Karen Lampe. Churches can form an effective team by addressing four key areas of congregational care: prayer ministry, support ministry, hospital visitation, and grief and death ministry. Karen Lampe says congregational care should be modeled after the ministry of Jesus, who offered compassion, understanding, healing, and wholeness as a way of offering God’s redemptive gift of grace. Lampe’s training manual and resource guide is also available.
Lay Pastoral Care Giving by Timothy M. Farabaugh. Learn to reach out with God’s love and care for others as outlined in this practical book. Farabaugh offers a systemic path for pastoral care using the gifts of the laity in the church. Unique to this course is the ongoing training and accountability meetings outlined for those in this invaluable ministry.
Creating Caring Congregations. (DVD) This ecumenical resource educates clergy and laypersons for the purpose of decreasing the stigma associated with mental illnesses in our faith communities. It provides a five-step program of education, covenant, welcome support, and advocacy, to help churches begin to address mental health issues in the local church.
Mental Illness and Families of Faith: How Congregations Can Respond. (DVD) Help educate faith communities about various mental health issues. Each segment presents an issue related to the experience of mental illness, puts a face to the issue, and offers a message of hope. Professionals provide important information about each illness.
Shadow Voices: Finding Hope in Mental Illness. (DVD) An inside look at what it is like to live with a mental illness and how individuals and their families find their way through medical, governmental, societal, and spiritual issues — to hope.
The Recovery-Minded Church: Loving and Ministering to People with Addiction by Jonathan Benz with Kristina Robb-Dover. Here you will discover a clinically informed, biblical, and theological framework to love the addicts in your midst and also practical tools to help you succeed in doing so, including discussion questions after each chapter for use in small group settings.
Crisis Counseling in the Congregation by Larry E. Webb. This book explores the core competencies, skills, and knowledge available to and needed by pastors so that they can provide suitable care for the most common needs of their members. It provides a basic tool kit including in-depth listening skill, helping questions, various frameworks, and when to refer.
Pastoral Care in the Small Membership Church by James L. Killen, Jr. Small membership churches have a real advantage when it comes to incorporating people into a fellowship where they are known and where their needs are met. Good pastoral care can be the key to effectiveness in all of the other ministries of the church.
Don’t Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart: How to Relate to Those Who are Suffering by Kenneth C. Haugk. This book is an essential guide on how to care for and relate to people as they encounter difficult times in life. It offers key insights and suggestions of what to say and do—and what not to say or do—when people are hurting.
The Church Recovery Guide: How Your Congregation Can Adapt and Thrive After a Crisis by Karl Vaters. This book outlines the practical steps you can take to help your church not only survive but also thrive in the aftermath of the coronavirus crisis. It includes advice on how to minister to people feeling isolated and fearful.
Youth & Chilldren
The Awakened Life for High School Students: Finding Stillness in an Anxious World by Sarah E. Bollinger and Angela R. Olsen. This eight-week small-group guide empowers teens to awaken to a more abundant life through practices that build resiliency, teach psychosocial skills, and foster emotional and spiritual well-being.
The Volunteer’s Guide to Helping Teenagers in Crisis (DVD study) by Rich Van Pelt and Jim Hancock. The authors recommend and detail a program for dealing with crises in a way that will be most helpful for struggling teens. They’ve divided their approach into four stages: Understanding various crises and their potential consequences; Spotting crises by learning to recognize signs and get the whole story; Responding to crises by initiating contact, managing confidentiality, and taking follow-up steps to ensure teens receive professional help as necessary; Preventing crises by creating a safe environment and sharing information with teens.
Managing Anxiety: A Youth Study by Trudy Rankin and Faye Wilson. The authors provide youth with a foundational understanding of anxiety and other emotions while equipping young people with practical ways they can manage them using our Christian faith as a guide.
Managing Our Emotions: A Children’s Study by Trudy Rankin and Faye Wilson. This study helps children learn about their emotions and accept God’s gift of their entire range of emotions (sadness, joy, excitement, fear, and frustration to name just a few) through four two-hour sessions.
When A Loved One Dies: Walking Through Grief As A Teenager. (DVD) This video covers topics such as surviving the first days, weeks, and months after the death, grieving the relationship lost, facing the future, and rebuilding your life. It gives insight not only to teenagers, but also parents, teachers, and counselors who want to know how to help bereaved youth.
Helping Children Grieve. (DVD) Helpful information for adults on how to help children of all ages grieve. Topics include: the differences between how adults and children grieve, how a parent can grieve while still helping a child, three common feelings expressed, and how to tell children the truth about death.
For complete lists of our resources to support mental health, view the following pathfinders in our online catalog:
- Mental Health Resources. Includes sections on:
- Depression and suicide
- Grief and Illness
- Weathering Storms
Request These Resources
These resources can be borrowed for free by anyone involved with a United Methodist Church in the North Carolina Conference. We will mail them to your home! All you need to do is fill out the Resource Request Form.