It’s common knowledge that seminary doesn’t teach everything needed for professional ministry in the 21st Century. Yes, we get Hebrew, Greek, Exegesis, Church History, Theology, Worship, Preaching, Ethics, Administration, Christian Education, and Field Education. We don’t generally get Community Organizing, Non-Profit Management, Finance, Property Maintenance, or Conflict Mediation.
Much like CPR and Mental Health First Aid training, church leaders today need to know how to administer Narcan (naloxone ) the opioid overdose reversing nasal spray.
(Note: by “church leaders” I mean anybody willing to love people with substance use disorders.)
The North Carolina Council of Churches is to be applauded for offering free breakfast gatherings in cities throughout the state to teach people of faith what we can do to address the opioid crisis. Please seek out such events often sponsored by Harm Reduction Coalitions in your own states.
Perhaps you don’t think your particular congregation needs this training, but here in NC, we have pastors asking for training in:
- Disposing of dirty needles left in church parking lots
- Clean needle exchange programs
- What to do if they find unresponsive people on church or other public property.
I’m asked this of pastors in our lovely rural communities as well as our lovely suburban neighborhoods. It’s not the kind of thing any of us trained for when we signed up to lead the Church. And yet there are many things we Church People can do to serve Jesus by serving those with substance use disorders.
What can The Church do?
- We can use stop using stigmatizing language (“actively using” instead of “dirty.”)
- We can offer Sunday School classes about substance abuse and its impact on our community.
- We can do a prescription pill drive inviting people to bring in all old prescriptions to be picked up by local authorities. (This is better than flushing them down the toilet which pollutes water systems.)
- We can install boxes for people to safely turn in needles.
- We can start a local needle exchange.
Check out the Top 25 cities for opioid abuse in the United States:
Yikes. As you can see, most of these cities are in the Bible Belt. If we sincerely intend to serve Jesus, we can start by learning how to administer Narcan and then keep a couple doses in our cars, our homes, our offices. It’s become the new CPR. We need to learn how to do this for the love of God. #21stCenturyLeadershipTraining
Image of Narcan Nasal Spray (Naloxone) which can be purchased without a prescription in most states. Tell your pharmacist you are hoping to channel your inner Good Samaritan if you are embarrassed to buy it. If you have medical insurance, it will most likely cover all or most of the purchase price. In North Carolina, sign up for one of these free training events to learn more: