We know that 1:5 Australians live with a mental or behavioural condition therefore every church will have many people living with this experience in their church and possibly more living in the communities they serve. In 2017 a commissioned survey of Australian church leaders was undertaken by the National Church Life Survey. They survey found:
The top three pastoral care needs in Australian churches today are:
- Faith issues – 57%,
- Mental health – 52%
- Physical health – 50%
The survey participants said the fastest growing need in their local community was Mental health – 66%. Additionally, 1 in 3 church leaders said they felt that they and their church, were inadequately equipped regarding pastoral care and counselling.
The top three issues in which faith community leaders said they were least equipped and wanted further training in so that they could respond effectively, are:
- Sexual identity – 63%
- Substance addiction – 59%
- Mental health – 52%.
These findings indicate a lack of confidence and perhaps a limited understanding regarding mental health issues. AFCNA can meet this need for education and equipping for our churches in many of these areas. This is especially important when we know that a healthy church that reflects Jesus Christ has so many wonderful life-giving assets and care activities that can ignite hope, develop genuine friendships and promote wholistic recovery and healing for people experiencing mental distress, mental illness, addiction and many chronic physical health conditions.
The above information underscores the importance of having a health focus to pastoral care as an effective outreach opportunity and genuine demonstration of Christ’s healing LOVE by today’s churches as they provide compassionate quality care to their communities.
The knowledge and skills of health professionals, especially Faith Community Nurses, accompanied by lay Faith Community Care workers provides today’s churches with a real answer to effectively ‘LOVE one another’ (John 13:34-35) and ‘LOVE your neighbour’ (Mark 12:30-31).
The Christian focus of Faith Community Care is the WHOLE HEALTH of the person, the community, and the creation. This biblical, wholistic, and life-enhancing focus addresses many of the key health and wellbeing concerns of our community, that are unmet by Australia’s pressured and fragmented health and community care systems.
It is time for our churches to step into this growing gap and demonstrate what it means to ‘love your neighbour’! It is not a charitable choice but a commandment from God! We cannot hesitate any longer.
We have an answer to this demanding and rapidly growing social issue and it is Faith Community Care. To find out more about the wonderful opportunities this ministry provides visit www.afcna.org.au.. If you want to discuss how AFCNA can support you or your church in this ministry please contact us or email at firstname.lastname@example.org and leave your contact details and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
 Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) (2020) Mental Health, Australia’s Health 2020, ACT: AIHW, https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-health/mental-health
 Australian Institute of Family Counselling (AIFC) (2017) Get Equipped: responding to the growing mental health needs in our churches and communities. Mitchell, ACT: Australian Institute of Family Counselling, www.aifc.com.au