In a world of complexity, riddled with despair, sickness, and crime, it is good to know that there are many pastors with caring hearts. Pastors are usually at the forefront of many of the events taking place in a community and in the church. However, they should be aware that they are not alone. They should know that there is help within each church congregation in the form of Faith Community Nurses, who can assist in this most important work. Faith Community Nursing (FCN; previously known as Parish Nursing) is a specialized practice that has historically focused on disease prevention, health promotion and providing care within a faith community. Our job as FCNs is to be a catalyst of help to the pastor and the congregation at large. After all, as FCNs we are nursing professionals who are trained practically and theoretically to identify such individuals.
In 1 Thessalonians 2:7, Paul wrote, “We were gentle among you, as a nurse nurture her own children.” He knew it was crucial to the church that believers were cared for.
The same is true for us today: Relationships take time, and the process of nurturing isn’t fully accomplished with one email, text, or even a phone call. It’s done with consistent, regular personal contact and follow-up.
For this reason, we should educate pastors on the vast resource of assistance FCNs can provide for the enhancement of the overall mission and health of the church. The church and the community can benefit from having healthy members. As FCNs, our goal and our mission is to be the hands and feet of Jesus, to ensure that we are effectively engaging with the members in every possible way we can.
While the church serves as a hospital for sinners, it also serves as a hospital for the chronically, mentally, and acutely ill. Pastors should be educated about our uniquely important role and how we can serve as a liaison between church departments, the congregation and the community in our perspective roles.
What exactly can we do as FCNs that would make a difference in a church congregation? Let’s examine a few avenues: (1) we can have a listening ear, (2) be vigilant to those that sit next to us, (3) assess needs, (4) report the needs to the interdisciplinary team which includes the pastor and health ministries team leader. All entities collaborating can make healthy individuals, which in turn contributes to healthy church members and communities. How can this be accomplished through the interconnectedness of the FCN? It is not always easy to collaborate. It takes courage to collaborate. True collaboration requires a commitment to greater good, coordination, cooperation and mutual work (Smith-Trudeau. 2018).
Wei-Skillen and Silver (2013) suggest these principles for effective collaboration:
- Focus on mission rather than growth.
- Focus on others rather than yourself.
- Focus on sharing resources rather than garnering resources.
Let’s engage, encourage and educate pastors about our collaborative work and how together, we can make a difference in the lives of congregants. Pastors, you can learn more about the important work of FCNs and their resource-fullness and how they function as referenced below.
God uses FCNs as a help meet to our pastors in the following ways:
- Work closely with the health ministry committee to develop and plan the health ministry activities within the congregation.
- Meet regularly with the pastor to report on the activities of the FCN ministry and to share information about those who are ill and in need within the congregation, respecting members’ confidentiality.
- Serve as a personal health counselor.
- Plan and facilitate classes, secure guest speakers and coordinate support groups and special sessions on specific health topics, in coordination with the health ministry committee members.
- Provide regular health screenings and monitoring based on assessed needs of the membership.
- Work with the Health Ministry Committee to promote health education through the church newsletter, bulletin, bulletin boards, website, and other church services.
- Provide health referral information.
- Serve as a liaison between church departments, the congregation and community resources.
- Identify and recommend areas of need that can be supplemented through community grants.
- Maintain appropriate Faith Community Nursing records.
- Work with health ministry to recruit and train volunteers to help with health ministry, i.e., visiting homebound and hospitalized members.
- Attend meetings in the community and the meetings of all who participate in the corporate network of Faith Community nursing partnerships.
- Foundations of Faith Community Nursing, Participant Guide 2019 Revision
- Preston, Pamela (2018) “Faith Community Nursing in Community/Public Health Education. Available at: https://digitalcommons.wku.edu/ijfcn/vol4/iss2/
- A Positive Student Nursing Experience,” International Journal of Faith Community Nursing: Vol. 4 : Iss. 2