I just completed an Updated/Expanded version of The Emotionally Healthy Church that is to be released in February, 2010. So this led me to quite a bit of reflection on what is the process for pastors and leaders to engage EHS, especially now that 30+ churches (as of last spring) have finished the Church-wide initiative.
1. Begin the Journey
The most important thing we can do is to engage the message in our own lives, and to apply personally the powerful biblical themes explored in this book. Begin reading Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (Nelson, 2006) and/or The Emotionally Healthy Church (Zondervan, 2003 and 2010). Remember, we lead out of who we are.
2. Introduce to Leadership (EHS in Small Group)
Gather a small group of your key leaders around The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Workbook (Willow Creek Publishing, 2009) and begin providing an experience for your leaders to “go beneath the tip-of-the-iceberg” in their spirituality. This serves two purposes. First, it provides time and space for you to go deeper into the material. And secondly, it enables you to introduce these new biblical themes to a core group before bringing it to the entire church.
3. Slower Healthier Life/New Skills
Emotionally healthy spirituality requires quitting unhealthy behaviors in order to model and to enjoy a healthier life. You will want to learn new skills, and begin to do things differently as a leader, both personally and at home. Slow down to spend more time to rest, to be with God, to be with your spouse. Begin exploring and experimenting with Sabbath-keeping and the Daily Office in order to create rhythms and space in your life so that you can abide in Christ more consistently.
4. Introduce EHS to the Entire Church (Church-Wide Initiative)
This nine-week full church campaign introduces every leader, every small group, every Sunday school class, and every worship service to the powerful concepts of emotional health. Visit www.willowcreek.com to order the Emotionally Spirituality Church Campaign Kit. This will provide you with teaching notes, promotional and training materials, a kickoff DVD, a small group DVD and workbook containing eight sessions for small groups, and an eight week Daily Office devotional to help your people intentionally cultivate their own personal relationship with Jesus.
5. Integration : EHS/Rule of Life into the Church
As you begin to take your church into this journey, remember this is a slow process, not a quick fix. Jesus spent three years, full time with twelve people, and only eleven finished. Moreover, they needed an infusion of power from heaven to live this out!
Consider crafting a Rule of Life for your leadership, your board, or your congregation. You may want to preach related sermon series that build on these powerful themes or offering additional resources to your church. For a more complete listing of suggestions, visit What’s The Next Step After CWI?
The choice now is yours. Jesus asked the paralyzed man in John 5:6, “Do you want to get well?” He asks the same question to each of us. Integrating emotionally healthy spirituality into our churches will mean large changes in our lives. Ask God for revelation and courage to take the steps He sets before you. The impact in people’s lives will be profound, liberating and transformative.
But remember, change begins with you.