Lifewell: holistic community ministry

As Christians, we believe that the gospel of Jesus Christ is relevant today and is so in every age. We know Jesus is the answer to our world’s hopelessness and yet, too often, church is not the place people turn to in times of deep need. How do we turn this around? How does a church change the perception of its local community to be seen as a place of healing and hope rather than ‘an island of irrelevance in a sea of despair’? The people of Enfield Baptist Church in Adelaide have developed an interesting model that is worth a closer look. They identified the major needs felt by the people who lived around them. They then looked at the resources they had available to match some of those needs. The result has been an outstanding community ministry called Lifewell.

Lifewell is a Christian, faith-based care and support service designed to serve the whole person – body, mind, and spirit. It operates from the old manse adjacent to the church, which has been converted into an attractive wellness centre.

Senior Pastor of Enfield Baptist Church, John Beasy, tells how the vision for Lifewell developed: “We encountered significant life crises within our own faith community, including breast cancer, a still-born child, and addictive life behaviours. While we could pray and express genuine concern, we realised we weren’t equipped to offer the deeper, tangible care people needed. We reflected on the importance of Isaiah 61 as Jesus’ job description (Luke 4:16-21).

Jesus came to restore the broken and bring recovery and healing to the hurting. We came to see that when Jesus called us to be his followers, his mandate became ours.”

Today, Lifewell offers a comprehensive range of practical and professional services to people in the community. These services include:
• Professional counselling – personal, relationship, and behavioural
• Faith nursing – practical advice on health and healing
• Touch therapy – massage and tactile therapies designed to reduce stress
• Spiritual direction – individual and group reflection, meditation, and mentoring
• Mutual support groups – helping people adjust to major challenges and loss
• Cancer support groups – strategies for coping with serious illness
• Hairdressing – at an affordable rate for low income families
• Financial counselling and budgeting advice Lifewell also offers a range of small group courses based on material developed by Careforce LifeKeys. These courses address issues from sexual intimacy to helping kids deal with peer pressure.

John Beasy comments further: “Lifewell was conceived in response to the gap that existed in our community; the absence of affordable support and recovery programs during or following significant life crises. We sought to bring wholeness and wellness to people as a high, holy, and thoroughly biblical goal. As we have remained focused on this goal, many significant missional opportunities have arisen. Our hope for the people we serve is that they experience increased ability to cope with life’s challenges, greater self-esteem, and reduced destructive and addictive life patterns. We hope people discover how to live life well as God intended.”

Lifewell is a local church model of missional behaviour. Rather than merely existing to meet the needs of those within the church community, Enfield Baptist Church has chosen to deploy its resources in touching the needs of people within the broader community, putting arms and legs to the love of Jesus. To find out more visit their website www.lifewell.net.au

Case Study (prac8): Lifewell.