GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Like the chemistry between worship singers and their band, the mind must be in tune with the body and the soul.
“When one is not taken care of, it impacts another part of your life,” said Pastor Sam Rijfkogel, lead pastor of Grand Rapids First.
As believers, churchgoers know they must bear their own cross, but they may not realize it’s OK to ask Jesus and a therapist for help.
“When you look through the Bible, you always see where God tells us to find council,” said Rijfkogel. “In fact, he said in Proverbs, where there is no counsel, people fall, but in the multitude of counselors, there is safety.”
Rijfkogel acknowledged some Christians have historically peddled the theory, “Jesus is the only therapist worshipers need.” He said it’s problematic.
“When they speak that, they really harm other people and themselves,” Rijfkogel said. “I think people thought all you need to do is pray and God will heal you.”
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, 1,469,000 adults in Michigan have a mental health condition — more than seven times the population of Grand Rapids. Still, some church folks treat mental illness like a dirty little secret.
“We, as pastors, leaders in the community, have to normalize giving people the confidence in trusting another voice,” said Pastor Jathan Austin of Bethel Empowerment Church.
It is through other people, Austin said, that God does some of his best work.
“We want to hear God from a midst, and he gives this voice: ‘Child, do this.’ But often times, it’s that neighbor next door that has some wisdom, some tools,” Austin said.
As Christians look for deliverance through songs, signs and wonders, pastors encourage them to take another route that leads outside the sanctuary.
“Just start talking,” said Rijfkogel.