Magazine article The Christian Century

Preaching on Mental Illness Often Rare, Survey Finds

Magazine article The Christian Century

Preaching on Mental Illness Often Rare, Survey Finds

Article excerpt

Protestant clergy rarely preach about mental illness to their congregations and only one-quarter of congregations have a plan in place to assist families of the mentally ill, a recent Life Way Research survey found.

"When we look at what we know statistically--the prevalence of mental illness and the lack of preaching on the subject--I think that's a disconnect," said Ed Stetzer, executive director of the research firm, a ministry of LifeWay Christian Resources, which is an agency of the Southern Baptist Convention.

When it comes to clergy preaching about mental illness, researchers found the following:

* 66 percent mention it rarely, once a year or never

* 26 percent speak about it several times a year

* 4 percent mention it about once a month

* 3 percent talk about it several times a month

The survey among Protestant churches was funded by Colorado-based Focus on the Family and an anonymous donor whose family member suffered from schizophrenia. It included the perspectives of pastors, family members of the mentally ill, and churchgoers who have suffered from illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia.

Kay and Rick Warren, authors whose 27-year-old son, Matthew, suffered from mental illness and killed himself last year, commended the survey's findings.

Kay Warren urged church leaders not only to preach about it but allow those struggling with mental illness to give testimonies to their congregations.

"Yes, preach a message, but put in front of your people those who are living with mental illness so they can share their stories and become human in that process," she said in a late September conference call about the survey. …

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