THE PARACLETE INITIATIVE:
Sustainability in Christian Ministry
Imagine with me for a moment - what if sin could never again pin us down? If fear, fatigue, or the mental load of managing everyone and everything (even with fires, floods, and a pandemic), could never hold us back? If our madly chaotic schedules, life stresses, even burnout, could never again hinder us in life and ministry?
That's the dream behind the Paraclete Initiative, the ministry-focused aspect of my practice. It is inspired by Hebrews 12:1-2, and named to honour the One who comes alongside to encourage us through all the battles that we face. Take a look:
I come alongside you and/or your teams with effective, practical, and faith-sensitive strategies that you can use to detangle from the stresses our broken world throws at you, so you can love and serve God and others more freely and effectively both short- and long-term. (Check out a blog post here with some tips on dealing with a crazy year!)
Did you realise that the mind, body and spirit are like an engine, powering our conscious actions and taking us wherever God wants us to go? We fill up with so many things - not just food and drink and air, but our long-held beliefs and memories, daily activities, expectations and interactions, personal coping and stress mastery skills, and distinctively spiritual resources (such as your attachment to God and sense of purpose or calling). But some of these things either help us run... and others run us into the ground.
Like oil impurities clogging up an engine, stress can hit anywhere in the system (be it physical, emotional, mental, social or spiritual), and then rip through our health and wellbeing in all of the other areas. It affects our presence. Our attention. Our focus. Our memory. Our sleep. Our capacity for caring and connection. Our ability to complete tasks and do them well. And all of this impairs our relationships, communities and ministries. And if other health issues are present (e.g. arthritis, heart disease, workplace injury)? The detrimental impact of stress can skyrocket 400% - or more! And if excessive mental or work demands or lack of resources gets thrown into the mix as well, it makes us vulnerable to exhaustion, disengagement, and burnout. And in a pandemic-ridden world, where an estimated 50% of COVID survivors experience ongoing symptoms and problems... we're looking at a huge percentage of our people, struggling.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
Every year, more than 30% of the Australian workforce struggles with significant levels of stress/ distress, yet more than 70% of those people will not receive adequate support. And that was before the 2019 bushfires, and the pandemic, and 2022 floods, and the renewed focus on racism, poverty and inequality in the community.
If we assume that the church in Sydney is reasonably reflective of this sample and has 100000 members, we have more than 21,000 Christians every year suffering the effects of unmanaged stress and trauma in the Sydney-Illawarra basin alone. That means thousands of hours lost and tasks not done every week; thousands of people on edge, and that many relationships fracturing under the pressure.
It typically goes unaddressed because people are either unaware of the problem, they’ve been treated previously but not currently, or they are aware of the problem but won’t seek treatment. It’s like they don’t realise they need to change out the old sludgy oil in their internal engine, or they don’t know how... or they're scared to try.
The Paraclete Initiative operates in relaxed, casual settings, from one-on-one coaching, supervision, and consultancy to eLearning to group training and retreats. In every mode, you can be certain of receiving reliable, evidence-based, God-honouring strategies the body of Christ can use - even when feeling overwhelmed by extreme workloads, psychological pressures, health or other concerns - to take back their time, effort, energy and wellbeing, to thrive, and to build up their families and communities in whatever Kingdom work God has set for them.
For further information:
The Paraclete Initiative has its own Facebook page as Shepherding Your Flock Online, pivoted to focus on providing online support to the shepherds of God's flock, which I would strongly encourage you to follow.
Check out my services below. And get in touch for particular information on how I might serve you or your team. Let's make things better and give you and your people the tools they need to flourish in Kingdom work and deepen their connection with God and each other!