This year has proven to be exceptionally challenging. We have experienced circumstances not seen in a lifetime: a nation-wide quarantine, new rules for social distancing, and many individuals prevented from earning an income. Never have we seen so many people wearing masks, gloves, and living in a state of fear and anxiety. All of this has created many new kinds of trauma.
Since we have all had to practice “social-distancing” (which can run contrary to our Christian faith), it can be challenging to minister using our usual methods. Sun Tzu said, “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory.” I believe that having a plan is key to helping your flock navigate the psychological toxicity that can result from the current health crisis. As a trained first responder chaplain and as a pastor, I want to present some strategies for you.
Think of “psychological toxicity” as a form of venom that poisons a person, community, or even a society. Just like with real poison, early intervention is key to preventing the spread of the damage as your leadership team attempts to lead people back into a more stable lifestyle.
When intervening in a crisis, there are four goals:
- STABILIZE – keep things from getting worse.
- MITIGATE – make things a little better.
- FACILITATE – make access to further care if necessary.
- FOSTER HOPE! – connect people to a healthier future.
Paul said in 1 Thessalonians 5:8, “But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.”
We can use Critical Incident Stress Management (CISM) to rebuild community resilience. The goal is to foster intrinsic community resources that yield a robust atmosphere of adaptability and capacity for long-term sustainability, helping people to recover from acute adversity. This creates an environment where growth is promoted, support is abundant, and the crisis can be viewed as an opportunity.
There are 6 components of community resilience:
- COHESION: (identity) strong binding of affinity.
- COMPETENCE: (efficacy) self-guided recovery.
- COLLABORATION: (interdependency) strong social networks.
- CONNECTEDNESS: (communication) reliable, accurate, rapid information.
- COMMITMENT: with the church community and shared goals.
- CULTURE CONTEXT: an atmosphere of self-reliance, pro-social mores, pride, and community esteem.
Trauma is a normal feeling or emotion in an abnormal situation. It is also common for individuals to have unique reactions to the same stimuli. The life-altering COVID-19 pandemic is an extreme abnormality that can cause people to react and experience unfamiliar emotions.
- Do you believe that we have a responsibility to encourage people towards healing?
- Do you desire the tools to help move the hurting individuals in your church body towards supernatural restoration?
- Are you interested in learning the methods and skills of critical incident stress management (CISM) to minister to your flock?
- Are you ready to rise up and meet this unprecedented disaster of uncertainty with practical, Biblical solutions?
For many years, I have been training workplace chaplains with the tools for ministering to people in times of crisis. If the people of your community or congregation are in need of help, I would love to serve you and your church body. With God’s grace, we can restore complete psychological and emotional health. Which will, in turn, will help the people you love and care for to become strong again.