I received an e-mail from someone who was asked to coordinate a health ministry in her church and was looking for help. I thought perhaps my response could benefit others.
I’m not in the medical field and I have never been involved in a health ministry of a church. So, right upfront, I need to say that I am not coming at this from an experience base. I am looking at it from a biblical perspective for balance and observation of what churches have done.
Some churches do nothing, solely dealing with spiritual issues. On the other side of the spectrum are churches that have a health and wellness program that is so focused on the physical that it could just as well be done by a secular group. Then there are churches that “dabble” in it, perhaps providing blood pressure screening and having a nurse/doctor within the church recruited to be on-call for emergencies or first-aid. And, some churches have a full program of services but keep focus on people’s whole being and not just the physical.
It would seem to me that if you are going to have a health ministry in a church, it should have some purpose other than purely attending to the physical being of people, a distinct purpose or emphasis that distinguishes it from what people can find elsewhere.
Questions to Ask in Pursuing Ministry Geared to People’s Health & Well-Being
Before beginning a health and wellness ministry, try to answer the following questions. If you already have something in place, it may be helpful to use these questions to assess what you are doing.
How far should your church pursue and provide a health and wellness ministry? How much of the church’s resources (time, volunteers, budget, facilities) should be devoted to it? — I cannot provide answers for your church. Prayer is integral to answering those questions.
How many of the following services should your church provide? blood pressure and other health screening, fitness training, nutrition classes, scheduling medical personnel (nurse, doctor) to be on standby for emergencies or first aid during services, participation in a blood donation program, HIV/Aids awareness, making referrals, providing information & resources about health care, massages of head, neck, and shoulders for stress relief, CPR training, flu clinic, help for living with chronic illness, visitation, basic care for the elderly, basic care for pregnant women or new mothers, visitation, serving as a liaison or advocate, etc.
How far should your church go in instructing about health and wellness? (health fair, classes, preaching, workshops, seminars, newsletters, support groups, counseling of options, etc.)
How far reaching should these services be extended? (your church family only or also as a community outreach)
Starting Points for Coordinating a Church Health Ministry
If you are getting involved on the ground level then you should:
Build a purpose/vision statement. — why you will do what you do
Build a profile of your church members (age, sex, physical issues and needs they face). — where you will focus (start with greatest needs)
Build a team of qualified people and train them. — who will implement the ministry
Build a plan. — how to meet the needs with the time, budget, facilities, and volunteers you have to work with
Build a calendar of activities. — when you will provide services, training, classes, etc.
Build an awareness among the congregation and/or community. — what this ministry can do for them
If you are directing or coordinating a pre-existing health ministry in your church, then you would probably not do the first task listed above unless it was never done. The other tasks will be ongoing activities. You will organize, schedule, plan, recruit, train, and supervise volunteers to achieve the ministry’s objectives.
For more specific help, let me suggest that you network with people from other churches who have implemented an effective holistic health ministry.
Do you know of any curriculum to use for health and wellness classes?
Below is something that I know of in our affiliate stores, Peg.
First Place 4 Health
I am the Parish Nurse & Health Ministry Coordinator for Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital, Binghamton, NY – offering Health Education and Health Promotion in the faith communities. I am supported by a faith based organization, affiliated with Ascension Health, a national corporation of hospital systems. My ministry is ecumenical, supporting a Judeo-Christian background. Parish Nursing has a rich, yet “new” history, starting in the 1980’s by Rev. Granger Westberg, a Lutheran pastor. The Health Ministry Association and International Parish Nurse Resource Center are the National Organizations. Most denominations have a health ministry philosophy/education built into their websites. Health Ministry may be “buried” under one of the ministries. . . . If you just scroll around websites using parish nursing or health ministry, there are so…… many sites! Happy Hunting! You may refer anyone to my regional location. I hold a parish nurse curriculum twice yearly, with the autumn session in October.
Kathy Medovich, Coordinator
Lourdes Parish Nursing
Hi I am a RN and have been asked to develop a nursing ministry at my church…and I would love your advice on ways to get it started.
First thing would be to sit down with your church’s pastor and/or leadership. Since you said you were already asked to develop a nursing ministry at your church, perhaps you have done this. Be sure you discuss with them what their expectations are, what resources (financial and otherwise) they will provide, what your parameters are, facility usage, etc. Also discuss issues like church liabilities and work with them to develop some basic policies for the church’s protection and your protection as well.
The post provides some steps of where to go from there beginning with developing a purpose/vision statement. In building a profile of your church members, you are basically doing a needs assessment to determine greatest areas of need. From there is is a matter of putting into place what needs to be done to meet those needs. Because of all the variables, it is difficult for me to give specific suggestions on how to proceed.
It might be well to start with only one or two needs, get those services going well, and then build on top of that.