Taking the Temperature of Your Health Ministry
When Jesus set the example for the early church, he was clear about the role of health promotion and restoration. Matthew records that Jesus’ “health ministry” began almost immediately after choosing his disciples.
Matthew 4:23-25 (NIV) states:
“23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan
Jesus also validated his commitment to health through his miracles. Of the thirty-five miracles recorded in the gospels, twenty-three involved healing the body (and three more involved raising the dead). Jesus not only healed the sick, but he charged his followers with healing as well.
Matthew 10:1 ESV “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every affliction.”
So, (1) if Jesus centered his ministry around healing and (2) he commanded his disciples to heal the sick, why doesn’t the twenty-first century church take more responsibility for the care and health of our members and greater community? Perhaps, we don’t know where to begin. After all, we live in the age of modern medicine with state of the art technology and medical advancements. Isn’t it the physician’s, hospital’s, insurance company’s and now the government’s responsibility to heal the sick? Have they been successful? Unfortunately, the answer is no. Despite our technology and wealth, we aren’t healing. In fact, we are sicker than ever.
The reason for this is simple. Healing doesn’t end in the hospital, it only begins there. Healing doesn't end when we check out of our physician’s office. Instead, we are challenged to begin the real restorative work when we walk out of the waiting room and into our life. We are looking to secular organizations to provide us what traditionally has been owned by our faith body. The church provides the encouragement to steward our body the way we would our bank account and gives us the skills we need to handle stress by relying on our faith. The church brings meals to the sick, transports members to the doctor, and opens pill bottles for those without strength and dexterity. These actions and more restore the sick to wholeness as they are lovingly provided by fellow members.
Prevention. According the CDC, the vast majority of chronic conditions can be prevented. They state in 2009’s The Power of Prevention, “As a nation, more than 75% of our health care spending is on people with chronic conditions. These persistent conditions—the nation’s leading causes of death and disability—leave in their wake deaths that could have been prevented, lifelong disability, compromised quality of life, and burgeoning health care costs.” Health ministries can focus on prevention by providing educational courses on diet and exercise, organizing a walking group or Zumba class, or teaching a CPR course. Flu shot clinics and blood pressure screenings also serve as powerful educational springboards for topics ranging from sodium and stress to hand washing and over-the-counter medication safety.
Discharge Care. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, 23% of heart failure patients, 19% of heart attack patients, and 18% of pneumonia patients are actually readmitted to the hospital within thirty days of hospital discharge. Why? Often times, the patient does not receive adequate care at home. Unfortunately, family members are not prepared, supported, qualified, or able to provide effective home care despite their best intentions. Discharge instructions include cautions on medications, activity, follow-up appointments, and diet. When understanding and implementing the entire discharge plan depends upon one individual, the task can seem daunting. Now add in the age of the caregiver and their own health issues, it may prove impossible. A church’s care team can assist the member with reminder phone calls and encouragement to maintain activity, provide meals that adhere to the patient’s recommended diet, ensure the member has necessary medication and supplies, and provide transportation if needed to follow-up appointments or therapy. These actions, though simple, contribute significantly to patient recovery and ensure the patient avoids re-hospitalization and complications that delay healing.
Support. There is no other organization capable of providing the level of support and sense of community like one’s faith body. Galatians 6:2 NIV says, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” An effective health ministry does just that by providing members opportunities to learn, grow, and share through grief support groups, parenting classes, substance abuse programs, and caregiver respite services.
So how does your health ministry stack up? For resources, information, and support contact Faith Health Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com today.