Community and Congregational Health: 
What’s the Connection?

Expecting a donation of money since he could not work, a man needed to make a change in his life. More importantly, he was ready for change in his life. His pattern included seeking donations in the plate, but these gifts, even generous ones, did not ensure a sustainable future. Who would have been able to offer the intervention he needed? Though this story could be relating an actual occurance I observed last week. It's the apostle Peter’s experience with a disabled man at the Beautiful Gate of the Jerusalem temple in the first century impressed historian Luke so much so that he gave this story prominence (Acts 3:1-6). It’s a favorite story of mine.

In Acts, Peter embodied, and even extended, the very ministry of Jesus as recounted in Matthew’s gospel when the tax collector reports that, “People brought anybody with an ailment, whether mental, emotional, or physical. Jesus healed them, one and all.” Could that be said of your church? Peter saw the inextricable link between spiritual health and physical vitality. A wholeness of body, mind, and spirit leads to a sustainable and hopeful future.

We offer what we have. The man received what he needed. He got up and walked! A few coins would get him through the day. Two strong legs would now get him to a job for a lifetime.

As faithful and eager as the church is to focus on spiritual concerns, we have a long way to go to practice the theological convergence of spiritual, emotional, physical, and public wellness. Often regarded as an unmentionable topic in church and governing body conversations, our individual and corporate mental health, and its advocacy, is mission critical for a missional church to be a compassionate blessing in the world.

I believe Newark Presbytery’s churches are increasingly poised to intentionally, humbly, and authentically become an agent of community wholeness, not merely an example of it. How's your team doing? Congregations can choose to promote community wellness and wholeness, not just in being generous with funds placed in a plate, but helping people walk in the newness and in the fullness of life. We must address the fragmentation our communities, and churches, experience.

Healthy communities self-correct. Healthy communities make for healthy congregations. What can our churches do? More of what we are already doing! And much more.I will post a few missional ideas for your leadership team and congregation to explore. I hope you find them helpful.

What has worked for you?