Biola University’s Rosemead School of Psychology launched a Mental Health and the Church Initiative this year to address how the enduring mental health crisis is affecting clergy. Lingering isolation, fears and uncertainties that characterized the pandemic are prevalent in today’s society and affect everyone, particularly clergy members.
“We see a direct connection between the health of our church families and the mental health needs of our communities,” said Dr. Chris Adams, executive director of Biola’s Mental Health and the Church initiative. “The local church is positioned to be a ‘first responder’ as people struggle with mental and emotional burdens. We desperately want people to find support, grace, understanding and hope in Christ in our church communities, rather than apathy, judgment or division.”
On October 26, Biola will host a webinar on the topic of Resilience in Ministry in a Post-Covid Era. Everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, religion or circumstance, is impacted by this new reality — especially clergy and their families, since believers often turn first to their pastors and churches for help, states Adams.
“The pastoral role has lost much of the status that it once had in our increasingly post-Christian culture, and bi-vocational ministry is increasingly more of a norm than an exception,” said Adams. “The inherent interpersonal stress and role complexity are exacerbated by these challenges.”
Biola’s initiative is a dedicated effort to support pastors, priests and church leaders in their vocation by addressing their well-being and mental health. Central to this initiative is “Flourishing in Ministry (FiM),” a comprehensive resource that explores the motivations and challenges faced by clergy in their roles. FiM identifies shared gaps in experience and offers a range of courses and training to bridge these gaps.
Under the direction of FiM, the initiative has provided coach training, research and a variety of engagements with pastors. Adams, a leader in researching and coaching clergy well-being, was hired as the executive director of the initiative in 2022. Through his years of research, Adams is convinced that the Flourishing in Ministry (FiM) model is a comprehensive framework for understanding the unique challenges of pastoral ministry. Research for FiM started more than 10 years ago and is ongoing, now housed within this initiative.
“Our research has confirmed that flourishing pastors view ministry as participating with what God is already doing in their own lives, their congregations, communities and the world,” said Adams. “This allows pastors to focus on the process of being in ministry with God, rather than feeling the weight of producing results in ministry.”
As America continues to wrestle with mental health challenges, church leaders need to be equipped to handle these delicate matters.
“I believe that the Lord is leading Biola University and the Rosemead School of Psychology to strengthen the church so that we collectively shine the light of Christ to the world. In this world of increasing division, upheaval and confusion, people turn to the church for help,” said President Barry H. Corey. “Pastors and congregations increasingly bear the weight of caring for many who are hurting, and they themselves are in increasing need of care.”
Adams will be doing a variety of speaking engagements this fall both in-person and online and is available for interviews about the growing need for resources to support mental health in the church and specifically how clergy can maintain positive mental health.
Learn more about the initiative by visiting the Flourishing in Ministry website.
Written by Sarah Dougher, media relations coordinator. For more information about the initiative, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.