What Preachers are Fighting Pt. 1: The Epidemic of Fear

Leaderhelps is a website designed to be a support to church lay leaders, pastors, ministers and small group leaders. This series is designed as a resource for those who preach or teach God’s Word.


Jesus’ disciples went with him as he left in a boat. Suddenly, a severe storm came across the sea. The waves were covering the boat. Yet, Jesus was sleeping. So they woke him up, saying, “Lord! Save us! We’re going to die!” Jesus said to them, “Why do you cowards have so little faith?” Then he got up, gave an order to the wind and the sea, and the sea became very calm. The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the wind and the sea obey him!” Matthew 8:23-27

If the average modern day child were to be teleported back to the year 1957, he or she would likely have sufficient anxiety levels to be institutionalized as emotionally disturbed.

The average child.

“Fully one-third of the nation’s employees suffer chronic debilitating stress, and more than half of all “millennials” (18 to 33 year olds) experience a level of stress that keeps them awake at night, including large numbers diagnosed with depression or anxiety disorder.”  (Kupelian)

There’s more:

  • According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 20% of people in the United States have some form of anxiety disorder.
  • According to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry,  the treatment of anxiety disorders makes up almost 40% of the total mental health bill.
  • One study indicated that either fear, stress, or the combination of the two account for more than three quarters of the appointments general practitioners see in the typical week.
  • In the same study, secular psychologists studying years of data concluded that, of all of the human emotions, fear has the greatest impact on how we feel about our lives.

Fear, as you might guess, is the most powerful cause of the troubled life in need of Hope. The hope you have in those pages.

Girl_suffering_form_anxiety


A few years ago, I was teaching at a men’s retreat. These are always the Godliest and strongest men I know. Men who have taught me a lot. In one of those “heads-down-eyes-closed” moments, I asked anyone who was experiencing fear to raise their hands. At least 80% responded in a room of about 90 men. It’s become clear to me that the folks in our congregations – believers or otherwise – aren’t immune. It’s likely our pastors aren’t either.

It’s real in our churches and can’t, or shouldn’t be ignored.

If it’s ever been clear why the Bible so often encourages us to fear not, to be strong and courageous, and to trust in the Lord, it’s clear today.

While I’m not suggesting you begin a series on fear (although that’s not a bad idea), I am suggesting that a strong preacher/teacher understands his or her audience in order to connect hearers to the Word of God in more powerful ways. Since that’s the case, it’s important you know:

Your hearers are afraid.

And consciously or subconsciously, they are looking to you for help.

Thankfully, you can confidently join the battle against fear by understanding its impacts on your congregation, small group, or class, and battling skillfully with the Word that’s so full of weapons.

Fear is a boa constrictor eyeing the necks of your sheep greedily, but you have true hand and a strong sword .

Don’t be afraid.

Mark 4:35-41
2 Timothy 1:7
Philippians 4:6-7
Psalm 27:1
1 John 4:18
Proverbs 12:25
1 Peter 5:6-7
Joshua 1:9
Deuteronomy 31:6
Isaiah 41:10
John 14:27


Sources

The Stress Factor: Finding Rest in an Uneasy World

Jean M. Twenge. The Age of Anxiety? Birth Cohort Change in Anxiety and Neuroticism, 1952-1993. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 2000. Vol 79.

Candis McLean. The Age of Anxiety.  The Report. January 22, 2001.

Marc Shoen. The Fear Epidemic. Psychology Today. April 27, 2013.

David Kupelian. Americans Snapping by the Millions. World News Daily. September 12, 2013.

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