By: Dr. Paul Raybon

You may have heard this word in the news, it is one of the “go to” words of our times.

Resilience is the capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulty, trauma, and disaster.

The interesting thing about resilience is that scientists have determined that there are ways to build resilience in human beings. We can train our neural pathways to respond to terrible circumstances in ways that will help us get through.

Here is a brief list of proven ways to build resilience from the Mayo Clinic.
● Get connected with a community
● Make every day have meaning
● Learn from the past.
● Stay hopeful.
● Take care of yourself.
● Take action.

On a recent trip to Cuba I and our team met with leaders of Iglesia Bautista Kerygma in Holguin. Co-Pastors Ernesto and Marisol Bazan are leading that church to see building resilience as the mission of their church. Ernesto is finishing up his doctorate studying the “theology of resilience” because he and others have looked at that list and said: This is what being the church is all about—Connecting, Meaning, Hope, Care and Action. Don’t those words resonate with the work of the church?

Kerygma was by far the most prosperous of the churches we encountered, Leaders included doctors, engineers, teachers, nurses and other professionals. But like so many U.S. churches, they are facing the devastation of losing young adults they had counted on as the future of their church. So they are focusing not only on caring for the people of their community struggling to get through life, but accompanying them through crisis and equipping them with the capacity to withstand and recover from all that life is throwing at them.

Doesn’t that sound like the Jesus thing to do?
Doesn’t that sound like “Church”?
If it doesn’t, it should.

I was blown over. Here I was staying awake at night wondering “what can we do to help these poor people of Cuba?” and God uses them to show me a way we can make a difference back home. It will take time and thought and prayer to determine how churches might be able to incorporate resilience as a way to describe, think about, and do ministry, but it’s exciting to know that God uses folks we never knew we were going to see to show us something we never knew we needed to know.

How is your church building resilience?
How are you accompanying people in crisis?
How are you equipping people to recover from their next crisis?

These thoughts are from Rev. Dr. Paul Raybon, our partner in ministry in the Western Carolinas, who can help you and your ministry navigate congregational identity, mission, and effectiveness. He is Co-Pastor at Hominy Baptist Church near Asheville, NC and works with churches and leaders as a coach and consultant in communication, visioning, administration, and spiritual formation. Contact him for more information about how he can help you.

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