Some people are called to minister to the mentally ill and some are not. I ask you to pray about whether or not you are. My feeling is that there is surface ministry and deep ministry. Surface is being warm and friendly. The ‘hello’ and stick out your hand level. Perhaps some small talk. Make them feel noticed warmly. Ask God to reveal these people to you. Be mindful before and after the service. Most of the people who aren’t in control of their illness dash to their car as fast as they can. Ask around. Figure out who that guy is. Reach out. That’s surface ministry.
Deeper ministry requires a commitment. It does not require a a degree, a workshop, or a seminar to provide deeper ministry to mentally ill people. Deeper ministry involves the cultivation of a relationship. It starts like any other relationship, with phone calls, thinking of you notes, prayer for the person, asking the person what they need prayer for. Evaluate the person’s participation in the body. Do they come to church regularly? Do they sit with someone? Adopt them. Sit with them. I would usually sit in the back in fear of a panic attack. I would dash from the building as soon as I could. Unfortunately, my family was not like me and would socialize for 15 or 20 minutes and I would stand there freaking out on the inside, not appearing to be approachable and afraid someone would approach me.
I will always say to pray for the ‘irregular’ people in our midst. Pray for vision, pray for the desire to make a little bit of a difference. Pray for specific people God has laid on your heart. Prayer is always the least we can do and the most we can do.
Be kind, be gentle, be aware. Ask questions.
It’s really pretty simple.