UM pastor, others start health-spirituality blog to encourage wholeness
By Jessica Connor
How can we actually take care of these bodies that we say are a gift from God, and gain a deeper understanding of the holistic link between health and spirituality?
That is the premise behind The Echo Life blog started by a trio of Christian friends “ one a South Carolina United Methodist pastor.
The Rev. Richard Reams, who pastors St. Luke United Methodist Church, Walhalla, started The Echo Life with two friends who went to Asbury Theological Seminary with him: Shane DeHaven, who is finishing his doctorate in chiropractic and is ordained in the Wesleyan denomination, and Tab Miller, who works for Tab Smith Ministries, a nonprofit geared toward providing theological education to those who would otherwise go without.
The friends met at Asbury and quickly formed a bond centered on health and spirituality. DeHaven and Reams were running partners, and all were passionate about being good stewards of the many gifts God has given his children, including our bodies.
After seminary, they decided to expand their dialogue to a broader platform so others could join the conversation and find a place of support and accountability for exercise, healthy eating, positive lifestyles and more.
The blog is the holistic understanding of health, faith and spirituality, Reams explained. We re not saying you have to do CrossFit and eat this way and run this many miles or have this certain BMI index. We re just truly trying to echo what it means to be a temple of God in more ways than just our speech.
As a chiropractor who also was on a church staff, DeHaven used to notice many pastors out of breath and sweating after climbing just two flights of stairs. Originally, he hoped the blog ministry would serve pastors who needed someone to talk with them about the need to care for the whole person, not just the soul and mind. But the more he thought about it, the more he realized this was not a problem just for pastors but an epidemic in American culture.
Unhealthy and overweight is quickly becoming the new normal, DeHaven said. Tab, Richard and I believe that this way of unhealthy living is neither the correct way to live, nor is it God-honoring.
After all, DeHaven said, the church is great at talking and teaching about purity and health of the heart, mind and soul, But we never really talk about the vehicle that these elements travel in, he said. We tend to forget that as Christians we are more than just souls waiting to be set free from the prison of the human flesh. Each of us are whole-beings on a journey to redemption.
Miller said The Echo Life exists as a very basic answer to a Christian problem, namely an American church problem: Many Christians are not taking care of themselves physically, and this puts their testimony at a deficit. Yet it all goes deeper than this, he said.
In a way, I see The Echo Life as a particular answer to the angst of this generation, a postmodern generation that has a general distrust in and dislike for fakers, Miller said. Many of our peers are angry at a church that seems to offer no real difference to the way of the world around us. In a sense, we are offering an alternative to the general disquiet and skepticism of our peers, and yet, in another way, this is our way of saying, ˜Yes, we understand. At first glance, one might ask, ˜How can a ministry based on a Christian view of physical health and fitness do this? To this I would say that health and fitness are only our platform, and what our generation needs to see is a holistic faith that not only claims power, but lives out of grace so as to demonstrate that power.
Miller said that, bottom line, The Echo Life is about sanctification, about being stewards of the good things God has given us, including our bodies, for His sake. All of this leads naturally to better witness.
We hope that the end result would be a people living lives that interest others, and when the other asks, ˜Why are you the way you are? the answer will be, ˜Because Christ has given me the grace to steward what He has given me, Miller said. In other words, we hope The Echo Life, while having necessary positive impacts for the self, is still all about ˜the other. We take the best care of what God has given us in order to be our best for others.
Reams said that concept, of being better for others when we are better physically, is a huge element of the blog.
It s not about the vanity, being able to do this or lift this, but my wife will tell you I m a better person and a better pastor when I am engaging my physical health. She ll say, ˜I can tell you haven t run this week because you re just mean. You re off, Reams said
DeHaven often lifts up Luke 10:27 as an example of encouraging healthy holistic living. In that Scripture, Jesus commanded people to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and DeHaven t
hinks those four areas are mentioned intentionally.
I don t think Luke meant this command to say that we should subdivide our lives into these four categories, DeHaven said. When he wrote these words of Jesus it was to communicate the Jewish idea of the whole-being “ every area of the life. This concept is peppered through the biblical narrative “ wholeness. Again, we, as Christian leaders, are really good at talking about the soul, the mind and the heart, but for some reason we gloss over the strength.
These are the ideas that we try to flesh out in the blog.
Visit The Echo Life at www.theecholife.com .