Becoming a Healing Community

How the church can develop a climate of help to the hurting.

Nearly two decades ago, Gary Sweeten joined the staff at College Hill Presbyterian Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, with a vision for a Christian interpersonal skills program. He enlisted Margaret Rinck to help develop a program that integrated biblical teaching on relationships with listening skills and self-discovery.The result was the church's Teleios Ministry, which equips believers to offer help to the hurting, including a sizable number of divorced persons. Today the congregational care ministry (including Teleios Ministry) has over 225 trained lay helpers officially caring for others, as well as hundreds who minister to the congregation informally.In developing such ministries, Rinck applies "a theology of failure." She cites the many failures in scripture used by God, and she calls for understanding human sinfulness and our need for redemption. "We cannot pretend any longer that Christians do not fail."Following are Rinck's fundamentals for developing a climate of healing within the church.What is helpful to people struggling with divorce and remarriage? What can the church do to bring healing to people whose marriages are broken?As with most complex problems, there are no quick fixes. To help people recover from sin and failure's wounds we need to create a "healing community", a place where it is acceptable to be broken, have problems, admit failure, and where help is expressed in concrete, practical ways.How does a local church build a healing community? It begins with, as World Vision founder Bob Pierce used to say, "letting your hearts be broken with the things that break the heart of God." It begins with a willingness to listen before we speak, and a humbleness that realizes, "there, but for the grace of God, go ...

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Becoming a Healing Community
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