The Case for Care - Why Care Ministry is Needed More Than Ever Skip to next element
Care and Counseling

The Case for Care

CTA - Christ to All /Dec. 18, 2023
Two people's hands clasping one another helping each other in care ministry

Written by Kristin Schultz

Editor’s Note: This article begins a three-part series exploring ways your care-ministry program can minister to your congregation and your community through your care teams.

It’s time to take another look at care ministry. When the pandemic hit, it upended our lives and our work. Lockdowns and social distancing completely changed our day-to-day routines along with the ways we interact with people and the community.

For all that is different now, our call to care for people has not changed. If anything, people’s needs are greater now than they’ve ever been. If care ministry has taken a back seat in your ministry recently, it’s time to recognize the need and reengage.

Care ministry is, of course, highly personal.

When people return home from the hospital, whether after having a baby or for a serious medical issue, it was common to take a meal to the home and hold the baby or pray with the family. Again, this kind of physical care may have changed.

But statistics show that the need for human and spiritual care has only increased after the pandemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study  showing 40 percent of American adults reported struggling with mental health and substance abuse. Of that 40 percent, 31 percent reported anxiety and depression, 26 percent reported trauma or stress-related symptoms, 13 percent started using or increased their substance use, and 11 percent reported considering suicide.

These numbers, while maybe alarming, are not surprising. Isolation and loneliness, especially among the elderly, has been a growing concern. The risk of isolation and other health problems like depression and memory loss is increased in the elderly population.

Stress and trauma affected working-aged people and families. Many lost jobs and many of those have not yet found work. Parents suddenly became full-time teachers and full-time employees. Many couples and families adjusted well to the new paradigm. Others struggled with the upheaval. Studies show that many women left the workforce in order to meet the demands of homeschooling and child care. And many cannot find available child care now and may find it necessary to continue staying out of the work force. The loss of income, as well as the shift in the shared roles and responsibilities in the household causes stress and potentially resentment. Divorce rates seem to be down but some experts think the decline is due to the expense of getting divorced. It’s not that marriages are stronger or healthier now compared to before the pandemic; it’s that couples want to get divorced but can’t afford it.

It is no wonder that many of our parishioners, friends, and relatives are looking for any kind of stress relief. According to the CDC study, many are turning to alcohol or substance use/abuse to escape. A study from the RAND Corporation showed that alcohol consumption increased during the pandemic mainly among women and those between 30 and 59. This should not come as a surprise. Self-medication is an easy (and sometimes culturally enabled) way to deal with increasing isolation, loneliness, and tremendous amounts of stress.

Perhaps the most troubling is the number of people who have thought about suicide since the pandemic. While many studies have looked at how the pandemic affected adults and seniors, it is clear that children are not immune to the stress and trauma of their new daily reality. Clark County schools in Nevada, the 5th-largest school district in the country, returned to in-person classes due to a rise in student suicide. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please stop reading and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

The need for compassionate, Christian care is greater now than maybe any time in recent memory. If you’ve scaled back or halted care ministry, consider bringing it back. Reassemble the care team or identify people who have the heart for the hurting.  CTA provides many care ministry items that are Christ-centered and won't break the bank.  


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