Tip #2 in our series “Cultivating wellbeing in a church community”
Social isolation is not good for our mental health. Connecting with others in meaningful ways is how God has wired us. Healthy relationships in our church communities nurture our overall wellbeing as well as growing our maturity in Christ.
New research has emerged showing the health benefits for those in our community who are socially isolated with few friends and few regular social activities to increase their network of friendships and social activities. Our churches do small group activities well and provide many opportunities for people to come together to connect and interact.
According to this research:
“On a population level, our estimates suggest if such people were to engage regularly in social activities, we would see a 5-12% increase in people reporting better quality of life and a 4-8% reduction in people experiencing symptoms of depression. This would be a substantial change to population mental health, given more than 70% of people in our sample (aged 50+, in Europe) have three or fewer close relationships.”
the New Testament is full of encouragements for these relationships to reflect the likeness of God in mutual love and support, seen so clearly in the “one another” passages.
Churches have a part to play in improving mental health of their local community, simply by providing these opportunities to connect. Even more, the New Testament is full of encouragements for these relationships to reflect the likeness of God in mutual love and support, seen so clearly in the “one another” passages.
Think, for example, about small bible study groups. These give participants the opportunity to meet weekly, share in the reading of the bible and applying rich truths to their personal lives, praying together and sharing deeply with “one another” the ups and downs of life.
Ways to cultivate this in a church context:
- Encourage people to join a small bible study group or to join a “serving” ministry such as music, playtime, or welcoming.
- Identify members of your church who are isolated and check in with them to find out what may be preventing them from joining a small group.
- Help these small groups build a culture of forming friendship, support, praying together and following one another up if someone is absent. Teach them how to do the ministry of “one another” care.