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Facing Up to Depression

God did not create us to be strong without him, which is why he is interested in our weaknesses.

Back Story to the Sermon

Editor's Note: Matt Woodley had a chance to interview Mark Meynell about preaching on depression. This interview provides a little more background on why Mark preached a sermon on depression. It also provides a few tips for other preachers who want to talk about this topic. As an introduction to his sermon we are providing the interview below.

1. Why is depression an important topic to cover from the pulpit and not just in a pastoral counseling sessions?

There are several reasons, but here are two. For one, it is guaranteed that there are people listening who have first or second-hand experience of depression and other mental illnesses. They need to know that God is concerned about this, and that they are not odd, less spiritual, or even under some divine curse. Secondly, we are called to share one another's burdens as a church community (Gal 6:2)—understanding is the first step towards compassionate burden-bearing.

2. What was the goal of your sermon?

The goal was to demonstrate that the Bible is fearless in exploring the darker sides of human experience—including mental illness. And therefore to show that God speaks even in the darkness with both realism and hope (too often it is that combination that is lacking in how people try to pastor others' pain). I also wanted (with my colleagues' support and agreement) to testify to my own experience, to show that ministers aren't immune.

3. What are three things preachers should not do if they want to address depression or mental illness?

Be careful not to make false assumptions about what we're talking about here (but that goes for any subject we preach on, doesn't it.) Depression is a matter of ...

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Mark Meynell is Associate Director (Europe) for the Langham Preaching arm of Langham Partnership, having previously been a Senior Minister at All Souls Langham Place in London for nine years.

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Sermon Outline:

Introduction

I. Psalms: God-given liturgy of despair

II. Cry out to God in the midst of pain

III. The need for compassion

IV. Depression obscures the reality and goodness of God

V. The need for community life

VI. Don't be a fixer, be a friend

VII. The mysteries of pain and suffering: hope, humility, grace, and power

Conclusion