June 25, 2012
Deborah Patterson knows health ministry. As the executive director of Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries and author of Health Ministries: A Primer for Clergy and Congregations, she works daily with parish nurses, pastors, and health professionals. In this feature, she answers your most pressing or perplexing questions on health ministry. Are you hitting a roadblock with a program in your church? Are you wondering where to start with health ministry? Do you feel like you need a new idea on a specific topic? Ask Deborah!
QUESTION: I am a new parish nurse, and I have been given permission to post a few things on our church’s website. I am wondering what I should put there.
ANSWER: It’s wonderful that the congregation is giving you space on its website, and it is good for the visibility of this ministry. Here are a few suggestions of items you might wish to include:
Write a short description of what you do to let folks know about your ministry. The United Methodist Church has a great example of this on their website. Here is a sample description:
NAME OF CHURCH is pleased to offer health ministry through the services of a faith community nurse (or faith community nurse team) working in partnership with a health committee and other members of the congregation. This health ministry combines the therapeutic qualities of church, community, and faith in God to strengthen the healing task of individuals, families, and communities.
Our faith community/parish nurse is a registered nurse with a current license who has completed a Foundations in Faith Community Nursing course and operates under the Scope and Standards for this professional specialty practice approved by the American Nurses Association.
Our faith community nurse uses his or her training and experience to serve the needs of our church community and wider community through a range of programs and services, including the following:
Visiting the sick at home or in the hospital
Providing health counseling
Assisting with referrals for needed health-related services
Teaching classes on a variety of health-related topics.
Arranging for health screenings
Developing support groups
Training and coordinating volunteers
Include your name and the e-mail address you want to use for your work, along with the phone number you would like people to call. You will need to have a phone number where people can leave private messages related to their health information, should they wish to do so. You will probably not want to put your home phone number on the website.
If you keep regular office hours, list those on your webpage. State whether or not you would prefer people to make appointments or drop in.
You may wish to include the names of the people (no contact information) who serve on your health cabinet or committee to show that this is a ministry of the congregation, not just of one person.
Include announcements for any upcoming events, such as classes, support groups, health fairs, blood pressure screenings, etc. Give time, place, and any additional contact information.
You may wish to have a special focus each month related to a particular health topic. For example, August is National Immunization Awareness Month. For a list of national health observances, visit the website of the National Health Information Center here.
Consider including links to other resources related to health ministry, such as to the Church Health Reader (www.chreader.org) and other health ministry organizations with which your congregation is affiliated. This might include the International Parish Nurse Resource Center Health Ministries Association, or a regional health ministry organization such as Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries.
A couple of final notes: Be sure to keep your website current, because then people will use it as a source of information. And if your church is on Facebook, be sure you share updates with the person who is the administrator for that, too.