How We Do It
There are over 50 instructions or exhortations in the New Testament on how to treat “one another”. In various places we are given directives to encourage, build up, comfort and support one another. Here are two examples:
John 13:34-35 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. NIV
Rom 15:7 – Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. NIV
The ministry of Merimnao focuses on how to put these 50 plus “one another” instructions into practice in the lives of individuals who are experiencing troubles. This is how we do it.
There are two components to how we function. The first is developing, maintaining and improving an environment for our various sub-ministries to operate. The second is the sub-ministry group system.
The work of the leadership initially is to develop an environment where the “in the trenches” work of the sub-ministries can be effectively carried out. When we talk about an environment, in the context of the work we do, we mean the following things:
- Identifying and qualifying ministry leaders.
- Providing ongoing education and training.
- Applying ongoing oversight and accountability.
- Furnishing financial, physical and logistical resources.
- Supplying spiritual and emotional support and encouragement.
Putting all those things into one sentence we could say it like this. The leadership at Merimnao is responsible for the identifying and qualifying of leaders, extensively training them, overseeing their activities and personal emotional and spiritual well being, and finally, giving them the resources they need to do the job.
The second part of our ministry efforts, that we have called above “in the trenches” involves the actual care for the souls of troubled and burdened individuals. This is mostly accomplished through the use of groups that are led by a member of the leadership team of Merimnao.
Groups come in many shapes and styles. They can be very large having 50 or more members to as small as groups of 3 members. An example of a large group would be a 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a small group of 3 could be a men’s sexual addiction accountability group.
Some groups will focus on support and comfort of members; others on dealing with personal issues, and others on maintenance of new learned functional behaviors. A support group could be a breast cancer support group, or maybe a “spouses of partners who have had extramarital affairs” group. Personal issue groups could focus on dealing with pornography or gambling. Maintenance groups might cover staying out of debt or remaining sober from drugs or alcohol.
Some groups may choose to meet only once a month, some weekly and others may even meet daily, with the frequency of meeting is determined by the group leader and its members.
There are some commonalities or characteristics that all groups will have. All groups under the Merimnao umbrella will be conducted as Christian groups; no secular or other oriented groups will be permitted. All groups are subject to the supervision and spiritual authority of the Merimnao leadership. All group leaders will be approved as such by the leadership team of Merimnao, and will all be members of the church.
Some other activities of the ministry will focus on individual-to-individual care. This might include mentoring, or something similar to the Stephens ministry, or possibly sponsoring an addict in a 12-step program. Any person becoming a sponsor style advisor will approved for that role by the Merimnao ministry.
One role that Merimnao leaders or volunteers will not be allowed to fulfill is that of therapist or counselor. Formal psychological therapy is conducted by counselors who are individually licensed by the state. Merimnao maintains a separate fund to assist troubled individuals in the cost of counseling, and a list of local counselors is available from the ministry administrator.