Christopher LeMark grew up in the church but left 14 years ago when he experienced Church Hurt. Inspired by what was happening in therapy, he decided to create Coffee Hip Hop and Mental Health, LLC. As part of that, LeMark will host Church Hurts from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at Full Gospel Christian Assembly, 3451 W. 175th St., in Hazel Crest, Ill.
“Our goal is to bridge the gap between the community and mental health,” he said.
The panel discussion will include church leaders and therapists. A coffee bar and music will precede the discussion.
As a way to mend broken relationships with the people who hurt him, LeMark said he reached out to the Pastor of Full Gospel Christian Assembly. The Pastor was very interested in hosting the event at the church.
LeMark said some of the hurt comes from unrealistic expectations on both sides.
“Pastors and members are the same. Everyone’s trying to find God. We all have issues. We’re all in one space hoping God sees us. The building is filled with undisclosed unrealistic expectations,” he said.
In the midst of his hurt he was visiting other churches, and what he found was that the issues were the issues.
“People tend to leave one church and go to another only to find the same type of broken people,” he said.
LeMark said one thing the church can do better is discipleship.
“You can’t walk behind one person, walk alongside another person…You can’t disciple them the same way,” he said.
He’s hosting the event in October because in the faith community it is known as Pastor Appreciation Month. He said he has been getting a lot of positive responses from pastors and church leaders.
“This is a global conversation that’s happening in the Southern suburbs,” he said. “We’re being very careful who we’re putting in that seat.”
LeMark said he is not letting anyone know beforehand what church leader will be on the panel. He said he wants to create and cultivate a safe space for people to come to. He wants to take care of the people who attend the conversation and love on them.
“People come into that place, that building, the sanctuary, vulnerable,” he said. “The end goal of Church Hurts is to start a path of healing.”
He said that he sits down with therapists to make sure he is being very responsible with the conversations he is hosting.
“Everything we do is motivated by love. I want to retain that spirit and retain that energy,” he said. “All roads lead to mental health and emotional freedom.”
LeMark said often, there are roundtable discussions between himself and his team and those discussions are very necessary to the process.
“We look at what’s the problem, how can we fix it and what’s the proper approach,” he said.
“We don’t just jump out there, we plan things out.”
He said the end result of all of his conversations is to get people to go to therapy.
For more information on Church Hurts, visit coffehiphopandmentalhealth.com.