Faith Community Nurse Mission
The Faith Community Nurse responds to Christ's redeeming love by offering her/his personal gifts and nursing knowledge/skills in service for all. This activity occurs in the context of the faith community as part of the Christian church's response to Jesus' message:
"...whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25: 40
The Faith Community Nurse cares for the body, mind and spirit, nurturing the growth towards wholeness in and through Christ. The Faith Community Nurse ministry seeks to assist the Christian church in caring for God's people to facilitate their journey towards forgiveness, healing, hope, peace and wholeness.
"…Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action is dead." James 2:17
The mission of all health ministry is transformation of individuals and communities regarding conceptualisation of health and healing, empowering people to act in ways that enable them to transition successfully through life's changing conditions to maintain and improve their well-being. This transformative process is a dynamic life-long journey that enables us to grow closer to Jesus Christ thus locating our wholeness in and through God. Thus all functions of the Faith Community Nurse should nurture spiritual growth and clarify the relationships between faith and health.
The cultural and religious group within which the Faith Community Nurse is working will determine the individual mission of each Faith Community Nurse. The aim of all education, counselling, advocacy, resource and referral, and care management is to help people to integrate the spiritual aspect of life in their current circumstance so they may find health, healing and well-being of body, mind and spirit. All health care is aimed at facilitating the physical, mental, social and spiritual integrity of people and communities as they experience life's transitions.
A Faith Community Nurse works as a team member of the faith community to serve the congregation and members of the wider community. A Faith Community Nurse, while active in one-on-one work with clients, also has a significant role in empowering others to exercise their God-given gifts. A Faith Community Nurse liaises with and supports clients in their dealings with other local health professionals.
What Does a Faith Community Nurse Do?
A Faith Community Nurse aims to promote individual and community health and well-being through education, counselling, pastoral support, information and referral, and care management services.
The Faith Communtiy nurse seeks to integrate body, mind and spirit, and nurture the growth toward wholeness in and through Jesus Christ the source of healing. A primary goal is to help individuals and those in the community to take responsibility for their own health and to help them understand the many causes of illness, be they physical, mental, social or spiritual.
Why is this the Church’s work?
Health ministry is a practical response to Christ’s invitation to serve our fellow human beings, as Jesus did. The principles and foundations of our practice are Biblical, demonstrating connections between faith and health. Many of the pre-conditions for health are present in a life lived in positive relationships with other people, the created environment, and with God. Health ministry seeks to nurture these conditions.
Why have faith community nursing or a Health Ministry in your Community?
Congregations are being called to recognise that the underlying cause of disease is often social, economic, and spiritual in nature as well as biophysical. Health and healing are enhanced in a supportive community that sustains social networks, provides physical resources, assists in orienting emotional wellbeing, and promotes spiritual harmony.
It is an excellent outreach ministry to many who approach the faith community in times of crisis and debilitating life changes, which are related to health and illness issues. It facilitates a loving and healing community that cares and shares with each other, and the community in which they serve.
Faith Community Nursing in a New Zealand Social Context
We have an ageing population, which needs increasing support from the community, to maintain independence and a quality of life that is conducive to health and well-being. Increased social mobility has led to fragmentation of the extended family, leaving many unsupported individuals, seniors and single parent families. Financial pressures on families lead to stress related illness and other health difficulties.
Our ‘health’ system is heavily focused on curative technologies and disease treatments. This support is important but the root cause of much illness is not addressed. Healing of relationships with God, other people and the creation are the work of the church and this is the missing link in our current health system.
The health system is complex and confusing and a Faith Community Nurse can provide navigation through that maze, to locate and procure appropriate assistance for people in need. The faith community can provide health promotion and disease prevention programmes that occur in the context of a community that provides the conditions which can support behaviour change. The congregation is the only source of inter-generational community that is sustained over long periods of time, and thus it is an ideal supportive environment in which education and support programs may occur.
Why does it have to be a nurse?
A nurse is in a unique and privileged position to bring together his/her faith experience and professional knowledge and skills in the service of others, and the ministry of the church. Nurses have wide ranging knowledge across multiple health disciplines, which make them ideally suited to help people.
The Faith Community Nurse is a registered nurse with a current practising certificate (and preferably several years of experience), who can assist the whole person body, mind and spirit, so that they might experience an “abundant life” (John 10:10). The nurse seeks to empower individuals and families to actively participate in their health promotion, disease prevention and illness management. The aim is to provide the best quality of life for each individual and the community.
Who else should be involved?
The congregation and the pastor/priest must support the health and healing ministry. The leadership needs to be committed to maintain and sustain this ministry through prayer and resources.
The health ministry team always needs people to volunteer their talents to provide care for one another. The skills used are many and varied and people of any age can participate. In giving to each other, both the carer and care-giver receive, and congregations become more loving and healing communities. People may volunteer for activities such as:
- Home and hospital visiting,
- regular written and phone contact of sick, house bound, and elderly,
- home cleaning and maintenance,
- short respite care,
- education activity support,
- prayer and communion visits, and
- any other activities requested from time to time, to support and sustain people within their congregation and the neighbouring community.
- Everyone can support the work of FCNs and the NZFCNA in New Zealand by praying for this vital health and healing ministry and sharing the potential it offers with other faith communities.
“He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.” Luke 9:2