Evangelism is often demanding and intimidating. Overemphasizing self-care could discourage evangelistic efforts that feel too demanding for the individual Christian. But counterintuitively, the spiritual growth and wellness of a Christ-follower are enhanced when he or she engages the lost world with the hope of the gospel. Avoiding evangelism (or simply trying to make it easier) won’t lead to flourishing inside or outside the church. Faithful evangelism, by contrast, leads to joy.
In recent years, a new vision of human flourishing has entered the church: self-care. “Self-care” is now one of the most common terms used to discuss personal and spiritual health, and it means different things to different people. It can be used to reference basic needs like sleep and exercise, or bingeing a new show, or prayer retreats in the woods.
On the surface, self-care seems like an unarguable commitment—of course we need to care for ourselves. But when cultural messages about self-care aren’t reframed by biblical principles of mutual care, this can negatively affect us personally, and a church’s culture corporately. The church that prioritizes care for self over care for others will suffer shallow relationships, a misunderstanding of sanctification, and complacency in evangelism.
Balance Self-Care and Mutual Care
The gospel’s beauty shines when we no longer live for ourselves but lovingly care for others out of a transformed heart (2 Cor. 5:11–21). After all, spiritual growth begins in the heart, but it manifests through intentional expressions of care for others (Col. 3:1–4:6).
There’s no either-or here. Our churches should prioritize the healthy development of the self but do so cautiously, lest we neglect the beauty and belonging that come when a local church practices the New Testament’s one-another commands.
Growth Needs Friends
Self-care without mutual care seldom produces deep and vulnerable relationships. It instead promotes isolation and self-protection. If this tendency is unaddressed, a church can become a place filled with individuals but not brothers and sisters.