By DSC Communications
How can community relationships shape the ministries your church provides?
Prescott United Methodist Church (PUMC) in Prescott, AZ has partnered with a community professional, Karen Allbright Jones, a licensed family therapist, in order to serve the estimated 1 in 10 people suffering from anxiety or depression. Coping Skills for Life, a ministry at PUMC offers support to people in the community who are hurting.
Pastor Dave Alberts describes the ministry as a win-win.
“Karen is a wonderful person, and her ministry is a wonderful thing for our church. Sometimes there are counseling issues that are greater than a pastor can provide, and it’s great to be able to refer them right down the hall and know they are well cared for.”
PUMC provides Karen with an office for her family therapy practice where she offers counseling services on a sliding pay scale, and in return she offers her more than 30 years of family therapist expertise to the church through free ministries.
Anyone in the community is welcome to attend the monthly Coping Skills for Life sessions. A typical session includes prayer, some teaching from the Bible and Christian-based books like The Five Things We Cannot Change by David Richo, or Ten Ways to Pray by Dawn Harrell, and a lot of sharing. Karen leads the group in discussions and invites individuals to share their personal story. For many people in the Coping Skills group, this is their first time praying for personal needs or sharing personal experiences in a small group. They often use a simple relaxation meditation to learn how to relax the body and mind, and to invite Jesus to come and heal what needs healing. The group has become a great support to one another. Through the program, participants are better equipped to handle life’s problems.
One participant, who was suffering from anxiety, shared her experience with the ministry,
“Even though I knew that I needed the help I was initially hesitant about coming to the group, but the Depression Group and the Coping Skills Group was such a huge blessing! At a time when lots of changes and difficulties were going on in my life, attending the group helped me put things in perspective and realize that I am not alone. There are so many wonderful, smart and extraordinary people that suffer from the same things that I do. It really helped me to process what had happened and what was going on in my life. Mostly, it was wonderful to come together to share (confidentially) with the other group members in a loving, kind, accepting, and non-judgmental environment. It was a very humbling and fantastic experience.”
There are many success stories for this win-win ministry, and it isn’t difficult to measure it’s effectiveness and alignment with the church’s mission.
“…where we joyously contribute our God-given talents, study scripture and grow in understanding, deepen our personal relationships with Christ and one another, and live our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
There is still a struggle with attendance. It is common for those dealing with anxiety and depression to withdraw from people and activities. For that reason, Karen and the church are constantly evaluating the program and trying to progressively reach those in need. Recently, the name and format of the ministry were changed in order to attract new participants. The group is advertised through church communication channels, and listed on Psychologytoday.com. Through this online presence, the outreach of the church is extended into a secular community and all are welcome.
Are there other relationships churches can consider offering to their communities just by sharing space?
Absolutely. Think of the professional services that would be necessary in your community, like accounting, legal, or technology services. Ask members of your church if they know of Christian professionals looking for office space in exchange for services to their community. With a partnership, the possibilities for new and integral ministries in the coming year are greater than ever.
For more information about partnerships, contact Prescott United Methodist Church at firstname.lastname@example.org
For information on David Richo’s book, The Five Things We Cannot Change, click here.
For information on Dawn Harrell’s book, Ten Ways to Pray, click here.