Starting a Health Ministry
Begin with Prayer
“Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” Mark 11:24. Like all ministries, this should not be entered into lightly. The decision to have a parish nurse is one that should be made after much prayer and thoughtful conversation.
Learn all you can about parish nursing and health ministry
Parish nursing is very different than simply having a nurse in the church; it is a nursing specialty with scope and standards of professional practice. Read books, journals, newspaper, and website articles on parish nursing. Talk to other churches who have parish nurses. Learn how this might fit within your congregation.
Form a health ministry committee/cabinet
Under the leadership or sponsorship of the pastor, convene a committee of members who will study the implications of a health ministry in your church, how parish nursing fits with the structure of the church, who he/she will report to, etc. This group can serve as an advisory group to the parish nurse and can actively engage in health ministry activities. The committee can be made up of healthcare and non-healthcare members. A good place to begin is conducting a health needs assessment of the church.
Educate the congregation
Engage others in this conversation. Make a presentation at your Staff Parish Relations committee and other key committees in your church. Ask another parish nurse to come and discuss parish nursing Offer a sermon on the body, mind and spirit connection. Post flyers in church bulletins and newsletters. Provide small brochures such as CareNotes “What a Parish Nurse Can do for You.”
Hire a parish nurse
Beginning with a formal job description, conduct interviews with nurses who are currently parish nurses or plan to become a parish nurse. Parish nurses must have an active MN registered nursing license and have completed a faith community nursing course.