Confidential Mental Health Care for Church Workers3 min read

When I was a young dad, I was feeling mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted. Can you relate? I had worked over 70 hours that week and it was only Friday. I realized I needed to talk with someone after my dear wife pulled me aside and told me she was concerned about me, that she needed my help, and that I was gone too much.

I had no idea how alone she felt. Admittedly, I didn’t want to hear all of that, I only knew all the responsibilities and pressures I was feeling in my congregational position. In my anger I said I’d make it better, but I knew at that moment I was depressed, overwhelmed, and didn’t want to let everyone down. I reached out to a friend on staff at another church, and he gave me the name of a counselor who was a Christian. I started meeting with that counselor and began a journey of growing that has continued to this day.

Whether or not you are struggling, you have a friend on staff at your Michigan District Office that can give you the names of counselors near you. A trained Mental Health Case Manager helps individuals make informed decisions about their mental and emotional health. Insurance plans often cover such services, but if not, the District is prepared to offer financial assistance for ordained and commissioned church workers and their family members.

If you or your family member needs counseling, contact Deaconess Christie Hansard RN BSN, Michigan District Mental Health Case Manager, to get started. Christie is a confidential referral source for such counseling support. She will gather some basic information and connect you with a counselor in your area. You can contact her at 734.845.2972 or

The list of counselors has been approved through a process, including license and liability insurance verification. The approval process begins with a conversation to see if they agree with the LCMS theological perspective, to understand their integration of theology and good clinical practice, discover their specialties, and much more. Many of these counselors are LCMS Lutherans themselves.

The District’s Commission on Church Worker Care is always looking for more counselors to serve in this role. The goal of the Michigan District is to have approved counselors in every area of the state as well as virtual counseling to provide even more access. Currently, there is a need for more approved counselors in the Upper Peninsula and in the northern part of the Lower Peninsula. The Commission’s vision is to build a list of statewide counselors to be an ongoing resource for church workers and their families. Scripture gives this image: If the leaders in Christ’s Church are the healthiest they can be, then their ministry and mission of love toward others can be the healthiest it can be—as the Head goes, so goes the Body (ref: 1 Timothy 3, 1 Corinthians 12, 15).

Please join us in praying for all church workers and their families.

Photo (c) Jim Reardan/Unsplash

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About the Author

Rev. John Rathje (LPC, NCC, SPM) serves as Dean of Students at Concordia University Ann Arbor and as the Michigan District Mental Health Support Coordinator.

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