Follow in Luther’s Footsteps

Pastor the Mentally Ill

Mental illness in church members can feel as impossible to navigate as a hike up Everest. Many pastors feel ill-equipped to counsel those who suffer from severe anxiety, psychosis, and other severe issues. Dr. Bob Kellemen points to the example of Martin Luther to encourage pastors to extend compassionate care to those with mental illness. 

Bob Kellemen is the Vice President for Institutional Development and Chair of the Biblical Counseling Department at Crossroads Bible College. Bob also serves as the Executive Director of the Biblical Counseling Coalition and as the Founder and CEO of RPM Ministries. 

Bob traced how Luther responded to those with mental illness. Luther pastored with compassion and care. He brought the suffering into community and presented the gospel to them. Bob encouraged us to adopt Luther’s strategy with the mentally ill in our lives.  

What stood out to you about Bob’s description of Luther and his letters? Why?
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Have you encountered someone with severe mental illness before? If so, what did you do? What went well? What could you improve on? If not, how could you be compassionate and care for those with mental illness who you might meet in the future?
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What aspects of the gospel do you find the most healing? How could you communicate those concepts to people with mental health problems in your preaching, ministry, or actions?
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Bob said we should provide holistic care to those with mental illness. We should bring them into community, saturate them with truth, and love them well. In what ways could you holistically care for the people in your church this week?
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All people need Jesus and His gospel. Exercise compassionate care with your church this week. Invite the mentally ill into community. Share the gospel with them. Love them as Christ loved us. But keep in mind that mental health professionals are there to help—don’t hesitate to refer some members to a trusted counselor or professional.  

To learn more about The Biblical Counseling Coalition, click here.