Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me,  for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

 Psalm 25:4-5


A wise person warned me today, “Listen to God and be guided by him, and do not be led astray by our feelings that fluctuate from day to day.”

And I wonder to myself am I being led astray—not listening to God—but focusing on those memories of the happiest years of my life when I facilitated my Living Room group?

I founded Living Room in 2006, having already spent several years before that raising mental health awareness in the Church. It was the precursor of Sanctuary Mental Health Ministries which was founded in 2011.

Few would remember what Living Room was like in those days when the Church was in the dark about mental health. People with illness were being shamed out of their churches, hurt by fellow Christians who knew no better..

Living Room became like a church for them—not just a group, not just a place. This was where Jesus expressed himself in a most powerful way—his love reaching out to all who came. Everyone shared in that love as they openly shared their stories of pain. For most it was their first time ever discussing faith and mental health together. No more shame. No longer alone. Only Jesus.

When my health failed in 2014, Sanctuary merged with what was called “Global Living Room”—part of it being the effort to plant new groups. I continued leading the founding group until 2015.

But in 2018, Sanctuary decided to dismantle Global Living Room, no longer training facilitators, or helping new groups form. This was part of its strategy to better focus on developing their mental health course to help churches be places where individuals with mental health challenges could feel safe and supported.

By sacrificing Living Room, they were freed to become bigger and stronger. In essence, the Church was supported while the spiritual needs of those with mental health issues—needs that had always been provided by Living Room—were now abandoned.

If you think back to what I wrote previously you’ll remember this: “In the push to raise Church awareness, we are taught what mental illness is. But we’ll see that Jesus did not teach about leprosy, or blindness. His attention was on helping those who suffered. So should we, as followers of Christ, not place the focus on what mental illness is. Secular agencies already do a good job of that.”

“The Church’s role—like Christ’s—should be on the spiritual food it could share with those who need it. That was the role that Living Room always had, ever since the beginning of its history.”

Due to the hole left by the absence of Living Room, spiritual care has gone missing.

Over the last while I hoped to bring Living Room back to life. Because Living Room is about learning from Jesus. And how else could churches address the spiritual needs of people with mental health issues except through gathering them together to learn and worship in their own way?

Have you talked to God about giving your testimony to fellow Christians at church communities? Think how good it would be to tell them how important your faith has been to you and how it keeps you well. Churches may awake to the need for Living Room groups at their church.

Let me know if you’d be interested in doing that.