My phone is buzzing in my pocket. It’s Craig trying to find out where I am. He’s waiting to go home, but I’m stuck in the prayer room.

He’s preached three times and is tired. I know that. But this lady is really hurting. I sense God moving in her pain but we’ve been here for an hour. I know the Spirit led me to this conversation, but there’s got to be a wiser way to navigate this.

There is!!! And it doesn’t mean ignoring the voice of the Holy Spirit when He leads you to people who are hurting – or leads them to you. It means stewarding that moment in a wiser way, a way that brings more hope and better help for the person God has entrusted to us in that moment.

The circumstances are pretty consistent. I either see them dissolving during worship or they see me afterwards in the lobby area. It’s clear there’s something wrong and they need help.

I used to touch them on the shoulder and ask them if they wanted to talk. They’d always respond “Oh yes, please” and I’d find a quiet corner where we could unpack whatever was happening. Problem was, there was no end in sight once we started down that rabbit hole. And I found myself in the prayer room several times, an hour and a half after service ended ministering to someone in need.

Don’t get me wrong, there are times when that is exactly what we should do. But they need not be the norm in order to maintain healthy rhythms.




Here’s an alternative that I’ve discovered helps us to 1) be what God has called me to be for them in that moment 2) stay aware that I am a PART of a Body He has called to love them.

When someone is struggling on a Sunday morning and God has placed me in that moment with them, instead of letting the crisis and their need for processing drive the time we spend together, I do three things:


1.  I affirm their value by listening.

How?  “Can we take a few minutes to talk? I can tell this is a really hard time for you.”

Why? This affirms their value, letting them know that you want to take some time to listen to their problem. But it also puts a boundary on it. By saying “a few minutes”, it’s understood that we aren’t going to sit here for hours.


2.  I pray over them.

How?  Asking them if I can pray over them, so that they are giving permission, helps release anxiety.

Why? Praying over them, (instead of you praying and then expecting them to pray) releases them from nervousness about the expectation that they would pray out loud. When people are in crisis, they often can’t find words. God knows that. (See Romans 8:26)  Praying over them also helps them settle a bit so that you can move to the next step.


3.  Help them find the next step.

How? “I’d like to help you connect with someone that can help”. This might be a counselor (I have a list of people in our town that I feel comfortable referring someone to), a community crisis service, or someone on our Care Team. If your church doesn’t have a Care Team yet and you (and your husband) are it, take a listen to this podcast episode, where LeighAnn Brisbin (LPC and Trauma specialist)  and I dive into caring for people in crisis and developing our Team so that we can better care for the people God brings to our doorstep.

Why? You are a first step, the front door in people getting cared for in your church body. They often trust you because they trust your husband. This is because he’s been transparent and vulnerable from up front and they feel they know him deeply – so they feel like they know you – by proximity.  This does NOT mean that you become the person that cares for all of the emotional needs in your church. God gave us His Body, equipped with others that can take a part in meeting the needs of those in pain.


Practically, I usually say something like, “It seems like this is a really hard time for you. Can we find a place to talk for a few minutes? Then, I’d like to pray over you and connect you with someone who can help (or suggest a next step they can take.)  Super simple. Three things: listen, pray, connect.

These initial melt down moments that happen on a Sunday morning are great opportunities to help our people practice vulnerability, see the church as people who will see them and love them, and find longer term help in taking their next steps of faith. Let’s make sure we don’t run from the chances to engage with people on this level because we’re afraid of getting sucked in to an endless abyss of needs. Instead, with a little structure and managing of expectations, we can love well, entrust them to Jesus and connect them to real help. 




Start your Tool Box 

(create a note in your phone with these resources) 


To find a food bank:


Food for struggling moms – WIC


To find a counselor: 


Domestic abuse or violence:


National Suicide and Crisis hotline 

Dial 988


National Sexual Abuse hotline:



Some others to add: 


State Suicide Crisis Hotline (every state has one)


Local Counselor for referrals (women, couples, children, trauma, etc)