People Exercising OutdoorsIt's likely that your church has support groups for people who have undergone some kind of drastic life experience. A grief support group for those who have lost loved ones gives them the space to process their pain. A peer-led group for LGBTQIA+ members can offer a safe haven for them to discuss the struggles they navigate as they seek acceptance for who they are with the people in their lives. Recovery programs, abuse counseling and groups that help people heal after a divorce are all examples of the community care that the church can extend.

What about coping with everyday stresses, though? Everyone in the church can probably benefit from learning strategies for thriving, but many people often don't think their problems are big enough to ask for help. A vitality ministry not only gives them practical advice but also shows them they are not alone in their struggles.

What Is Vitality?

It's easy to get caught up in routines and just going through the motions in life. This can leave you feeling drained and unfulfilled. What may be even more frustrating is that there's not necessarily one incident you can point to that justifies the feeling. It's the culminating effect of small stressors that wear you down over time.

Vitality is an overall sense of good health and well-being. It involves an intentional decision to stay engaged with the world around you. Dr. Samantha Boardman outlines three basic needs that are boosted by vitality:

  • Autonomy - freedom of choice and a sense of control over certain parts of your life
  • Competence - confidence that you are effective in what you do
  • Relatedness - strong connections with others

A vitality ministry can take on many forms. As long as it addresses these three needs for the participants involved, however, it is likely to be successful.

How Do You Attract Participants?

The difficulty with creating a vitality ministry is that the same activities may not meet the three needs mentioned above for all people. Therefore, you need participants before you can do any real planning. Attracting interested people may be easier than you think. Adding a blurb to the service bulletin that says, "Feeling stuck? Let's figure out how to get unstuck together," may be all it takes. Then you simply choose a place and a time and see who shows up.

Another challenge is that people who are trapped in a rut probably didn't get there on purpose, and if they knew how to get themselves out, they would have already done so. Additionally, they are unlikely to have the time or patience to attend one more fruitless gathering that makes promises on which it can't deliver. The good news is that just being heard by a group of people who care and want them to thrive may be the impetus they need to keep coming back.

What Do You Do in the First Meeting?

The first step is to gauge where everyone is in regard to cultivating vitality in their lives. Some people may be looking for accountability, while others have no idea how to even get started. That's why it's a good idea to make the first meeting an open discussion. All attendees get to share why they are there and what they hope to get out of the group.

You may also discover valuable resources in the people who attend. They don't have to be experts in the science of well-being to understand what has worked for them in the past that might be helpful for others. They may also have recommendations for resources that the group can work through together.

Overcoming the effects of everyday stressors is something that everyone has to learn to do. People who want more out of life may find it more easily within a group setting. A vitality ministry is a great way to meet that need.

Category: Health and Wellness

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