Site Leader Resources


Admitting our vulnerability can be uncomfortable. But if we take an honest look at Scripture, we discover God motivates vulnerable people like you and me to love other vulnerable people by becoming vulnerable for them. Vulnerability is not a curse but rather the key to connection and community.

In Genesis 2:18, God declared, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” God created humans with an innate need for one another. Community is an invitation to participate in life together, complete with all the differences that make us who we are as unique beings. Though many in the local church can appreciate community in theory, its implementation and practice are often a different story. Many people living with mental illness can testify to this fact.

Mental illness is simultaneously overlooked and often stigmatized in local church settings. According to Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, a 2021 survey showed that “While preaching on mental illness is the norm and even more pastors feel their church is responsible to help the mentally ill, still 37% of pastors rarely or never bring it up from the pulpit.”¹ This culture of silence must change for us to experience the community and connection God desires for us in the local church.


1. Normalize discussion about mental health.

If a particular church is not discussing mental health or mental illness, the congregation will assume it is not a high priority for those in leadership. Encourage your pastor to find opportunities to talk about it from the pulpit regularly. Plan to have systematic studies about it in your small groups. Offer training on mental health, abuse, and becoming trauma-informed for those who would like to learn more. Create and provide a list of mental health resources and services available in your area. By addressing mental illness from the pulpit and in groups, you give the congregation multiple connection points to enter the conversation.

2. Reach out to local nonprofits and social services in your community.

You don’t have to do this work alone. There are likely many organizations and service providers in your community you can contact. Google “mental health” plus “nonprofits” and your zip code. Set up a meeting to learn more. Invite the organization or service provider to offer training at your church.

3. Offer counseling in your church.

Though talking to your church and your community is a start, confidential mental health services are also crucial. Reach out to local counseling centers, establish a relationship with them, and refer people to them.

4. Embrace your vulnerability.

It’s difficult to discuss the mental health of others when we neglect our own. By addressing our issues, we are better poised to engage with others. Choosing to process through your brokenness, pain, anxiety, and disillusionment will lead to self-awareness. As we become acquainted with our frailty, the boundary between “us” and “them” will fade, and we will realize that it’s just us. We’re all living with the tangible effects from the Fall. Understanding what we bring to the conversation helps provide an equal footing as we talk to others in our communities.


The words we say matter. In many cases, we hurt people around us without even knowing. Here are a few things we should avoid saying and what we can say instead:

  • Avoid saying the phrases “suffering from” or “battling” mental illness, which convey a negative connotation. Instead, you can say “living with a mental illness” to unlock empathy, compassion, and many other positive things.
  • Avoid using words like crazynuts, or schizophrenic in conversation to describe things that do not pertain to mental health. Though these statements may be casual to you, they can send a stigmatized message to someone living with a mental illness.
  • Avoid saying things like “pray harder” or “if only your faith were stronger, you wouldn’t struggle with [fill in the blank].” This statement is shame-inducing and accuses rather than heals. Instead, if you have built the relational capital with the person, offer to pray with him or her. Remind others of how Christ lived, died, and rose in their place. Focus on what was done for them rather than what you feel they should do.
  • The Bible tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Being thoughtful about the words we say can make the difference between someone engaging further with the church or feeling rejected.

Raleigh Sadler founded and serves as the executive director of Let My People Go, a national ministry focused on empowering the local church to address human trafficking. He is the author of two books, Vulnerable: Rethinking Human Trafficking and The Let My People Go Handbook.


For more information about national WMU’s focus on mental health, visit wmu.com/mentalhealth.

Disclaimer: The information shared on this page is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

Site Leader Resources


A plethora of mental health definitions exist. There’s even a basic definition of “an absence of a mental disorder,” proving the one thing we can all agree on is it is difficult to define mental health. This speaks to the complexity of the Lord’s creation and how we are made in His image.

The American Psychiatric Association states mental health is “the effective functioning in daily activities resulting in productive activities (work, school, caregiving), healthy relationships, [and the] ability to adapt to change and cope with adversity.” In addition, a compilation of resources cite mental health as demonstrated through realizing one’s potential, feelings of self-worth, and community contributions as well as intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development. Mental health is the foundation of these characteristics and a crucial element for meaningful participation in society.

In contrast, the American Psychiatric Association defines mental illness as “changes in emotions, thinking, or behavior, or a combination of these.” Mental illnesses can be mild to severe and may take on many forms; however, to meet the criteria for a mental illness, the symptoms must cause significant distress in life domains and occur for an extended and specified amount of time. Significant mental illness may require hospitalization and varied treatment modalities, including medication.

Although we all experience the ups and downs of mental health, temporary valleys of mental health may be related to stressful events, such as the loss of a loved one or other life events. These do not require professional intervention. It is important to note there is no single cause of mental illness but more so a combination or range of variables, including biology, environmental exposure, genetics, and life experiences that may result in mental illness.


The Bible speaks about mental health as it addresses our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as well as our hearts and souls. The concept of mental health is integral in all of Scripture. In fact, Jesus said the greatest commandment states, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).

The Lord cares about our mental health because we matter to Him, and He desires to be intimate with our thoughts and feelings through prayer. He provides for our mental health through the Holy Spirit, who is our comforter and counselor. The Lord provides hope through support systems, godly Christian mental health professionals, and medications as needed when our mental health suffers.

Scripture offers examples related to mental health that indicate self-care can be both physical and mental. Paul acknowledged physical exercise as profitable (1 Tim. 4:8) and encouraged Christ’s followers to maintain a positive thought life (Phil. 4:8), while Jesus took several respites from His demanding time on earth.

As a church body, it is important to promote positive mental health because it allows people to realize their full potential in their relationships with God, others, and their communities. Positive mental health allows individuals to serve, minister, and evangelize effectively.


As followers of Christ, we are to share the hope we have in the knowledge of the restoration of the world through Jesus Christ (Col. 1:19–20). God also commands us to love our neighbors. Those with mental health struggles require us to address the uncomfortableness of the often-perplexing nature of the mind, body, and soul. As Christians, there is a common propensity to fear when ministering to those experiencing mental health struggles, and if not thwarted, this attitude can exacerbate the marginalization of those with mental health struggles in and out of the church body.

The church can use the following practices to promote mental health:

  • Provide mental health education as a method to reduce stigmatization.
  • Become a trauma-informed care church by realizing the widespread impact of trauma, understanding the pathways to recovery, recognizing the signs and symptoms of trauma, responding by fully integrating knowledge into practices, and resisting re-traumatization.
  • Cultivate certified Mental Health First Aid practitioners in the church. Click here for information on Mental Health First Aid trainings offered through WMU.
  • Equip members to lead and champion mental health initiatives within the church.
  • Ensure the church provides a resource website for trustworthy mental health providers in the area who subscribe to sound Christian theology.

Dr. Pam Whitaker, EdD, LMHC, CCTP, serves as senior vice president of program development at One More Child. As a Licensed Mental Health Counselor serving children and families for many years, she has witnessed the value of sound mental health that has provided helpful navigation through the stressors of life, resulting in personal growth and spiritual development.

For more information about national WMU’s mental health focus, visit wmu.com/mentalhealth.

Disclaimer: The information shared on this page is not meant to diagnose or treat a mental health condition. We encourage you to follow up with your health-care provider and seek a mental health professional for individual consultation and care.

Site Stories

Entrepreneurship Program for Women in Texas Gets Boost from Grant

(Photo courtesy of Jacob Lackey)

Sometimes things start with one person who is really passionate, and then they take off from there.

That’s Lydia Tate’s opinion at least.

She’s seeing it happen at Christian Women’s Job Corps of McLennan County, Texas, where an already-thriving ministry has moved to the next level thanks to a college student volunteer and a program development grant from WMU Foundation.

Tate, director of the CWJC site, said the idea for their new entrepreneurship program started in early 2020 when she spoke to a business class at Baylor University. One student — Jacob Lackey — was particularly interested in the mission and vision of the CWJC site and wanted to see how he might help.

Seeing, responding to a need

“Afterward he came up to me to talk about entrepreneurship and the vision he has for bringing those skills to the community,” Tate said. “He offered to volunteer and bring his knowledge in entrepreneurship to the program. He offered to bring a curriculum to us to teach this concept to our women.”

Lackey had started his first successful business at 14 and gave a TEDx Talk about it at 16.

“I see this need, I want to meet it and I’m passionate about it,” he said.

He said he wanted to be able to share with the women at CWJC of McLennan County that it’s OK to have challenges and barriers against starting a business — he experienced that uphill battle as a teenager.

But it’s doable if someone is passionate, Lackey said.

“Only 30 percent or so of entrepreneurs have a high school diploma,” he said. “It’s not a field dominated by people with doctorates.”

So in spring 2020, Lackey led a three-day workshop via Zoom for students at the CWJC site to teach them about entrepreneurship, evaluate their own ideas and see if they had the expertise and passion to get started in their own business. He also gave them resources to plan their next steps.

“I loved seeing how engaged the women were and the ideas they already had,” said Lackey, who is now a Baylor graduate and member of the CWJC of McLennan County board of directors.

‘Wildly successful’

Tate said the workshop was “wildly successful — everybody loved it.”

The grant will be seed money to start wrapping some structure around the idea, she said.

“Essentially what we would like to do was to start a program where a student will come in and take a host of classes given by volunteers in the community. They will learn about marketing strategies, digital spaces, brick-and-mortar spaces and how those happen,” Tate said. “They will learn about everything from what does it look like to have a business all the way to launching a business.”

CWJC would also have student interns who would have hands-on learning opportunities through running an online shop modeled after Woman’s Missionary Union’s WorldCrafts space, she said.

“Those interns would complete a year with us from September to May, then apply for a micro loan to start their own business,” Tate said.

“Our goal is to fund those micro loans and those opportunities so that a woman can start with us not knowing anything about a business to starting and funding a business. That’s the hope, and WMU Foundation has created a space for us to start dreaming about that.”

The entrepreneurship program is part of the site’s GLOW (Growth Learning Opportunities for Women) program, which offers free job skills and career building workshops and classes.

Tate said they hope through the entrepreneurship program to “really and truly empower women to start their own businesses and have some ownership over their income.”

by Grace Thornton, writer for The Baptist Paper

Participant StoriesSite Stories

Ministry Helps Those Seeking Employment

Kim McDermott serves as administrative coordinator for Pivot ministry, a role supported by a recent site grant from the WMU Foundation.
(Photo courtesy of Pivot)

Kim McDermott had been unemployed for six months, steadily interviewing for jobs with no success, when a friend told her about the classes offered at Pivot.

“I heard about this and thought, ‘What’s it going to hurt? I’ll give it a try,’” McDermott said.

What is Pivot?

Pivot, a ministry that uses the Christian Women’s Job Corps classroom model with one-on-one mentors, has served women in the Winston-Salem, North Carolina, area since 2018.

Carol Polk, Pivot’s executive director, said it opened after two years of research, during which time they found that women with no dependents were often turned away by agencies.

“So that’s what we focused on,” she said. “We just had our fifth graduation.”

So far, Pivot has had a graduation rate of 75 percent — more than double what was predicted, Polk said. The women who come through the program learn life skills and job readiness, take part in regular Bible studies and have a personal Christian mentor.

“It’s an incredible ministry,” she said.

McDermott agrees. She said her experience as a participant at Pivot in 2019 was “amazing.”

‘Helped me get my confidence back’

“I thoroughly enjoyed every session,” she said. “I was beginning to think I was unemployable. Pivot helped me get my confidence back.”

And a few months back, McDermott became a part of Pivot in a new way — she’s serving in a part-time role as administrative coordinator.

“I’m loving what I do here,” she said.

Her role is supported by a site grant from the CWJC/CMJC Endowment that the Woman’s Missionary Union(WMU) Foundation recently awarded to Pivot, a gift Polk said they were “blown away” to receive.

Pivot Plus

The grant is also supporting Pivot’s new alumnae association, Pivot Plus, which offers graduates a chance to stay connected and participate in Bible study and further professional development. Two volunteers have taken ownership of that new effort and run with it, Polk said.

She hopes it will help Pivot continue to come alongside women like McDermott over the long haul and offer support and community.

McDermott’s story has highlighted God’s faithfulness, and she has been a great fit for the Pivot team too, Polk said. She said McDermott’s computer skills are strong, she’s a great researcher and support person and has a cheerful demeanor and positive approach.

“She turned her life back around and now has two part time jobs and is faithful and dedicated and a joy to work with,” Polk said.

by Grace Thornton, writer for The Baptist Paper