Health Ministry Toolkit: Getting Started

Are you ready to create a health ministry for your congregation? The following steps can help you plan for starting a health ministry.

Make a collective commitment


The support of church leadership is crucial to the success of a health ministry. With this support, your health ministry will have better access to financial resources, facilities, volunteers, and a spot on the agenda at services and meetings. Make sure that the pastor and church leaders are committed to making the health ministry a part of their overall outreach.




Select the right leaders


Selecting the right leader(s) for your health ministry is probably the most important decision you will make. It’s most important to identify a leader who has the time, organizational skills, and commitment needed to show results. This person must be capable of maintaining confidentiality should any health issues be discussed with the ministry. Often, a healthcare professional is selected to lead a health ministry, but a lay person can also be a strong leader. Choose leader(s) who are:

  • Dependable (you can count on them)
  • Organized (other aspects of their life are in order)
  • Easy to get along with (they have good people skills and know how to resolve conflict)
  • Punctual (they show up on time)
  • Professional (they conduct themselves in a business-like manner)
  • Motivational (they inspire others)
  • Experienced (they have led before)
  • Trustworthy (can keep information confidential)




Keep the congregation informed


It’s important to keep the congregation informed about the health ministry. Announcements in the bulletin or spoken during the service can raise awareness about the health ministry and encourage people to participate. You’ll need to raise awareness about the health ministry and its activities, recruit members and volunteers, and advertise upcoming events. Work with your church leadership to decide the best timing for making an announcement depending on what you want the congregation to know.




Recruit members


You’ll want a wide variety of people to serve as members of your health ministry. Look for people who have a variety of experience, knowledge, and insight to help your group think about health issues from many perspectives. Consider these factors as you recruit members to your ministry:

  • Professional/life experience – it’s helpful to involve both healthcare professionals and lay members. While it is natural to focus on parents and caregivers, non-parenting members can provide an important perspective, too, on the congregation’s broader role in supporting maternal and child health activities.
  • Different ages and gender – men and women from different generations can help you reach out to everyone in the congregation to find a role in supporting mothers, infants, and families.
  • Diverse skill sets – many different skills will be needed: to write letters, organize spreadsheets, design flyers, manage resources, plan events, speak in public, and more.
  • Size – your health ministry should align with the size of your congregation. As a general rule, a ministry of between 5 and 15 members is the right size to allow for both quick decision-making and enough human power to get the work done.




Plan meetings


You’ll need to plan meetings in order to move the work along. Here are a few tips for running a successful meeting:

  • Choose times that are convenient – ask people when they are available. It can help to have a standing meeting time. You can always cancel a meeting if there’s not a clear need to meet.
  • Prepare an agenda for the meeting and send it out in advance. Allow time for people to raise and discuss ideas and concerns that are not on the agenda.
  • Make sure that someone is taking minutes and distribute them to members within a week.
  • Set some ground rules, so that everyone in the health ministry has an opportunity to contribute.
  • Task setting – at the end of each meeting, take a few minutes to summarize what was decided and who is responsible for each task.




Assess the congregation’s needs and interests


A best practice is to ask the congregation about their needs and interests as they relate to maternal and child health. Examples include holding a group discussion with parents, caregivers or other adults to learn about their concerns or needs for information, or asking individuals to complete a brief survey [skip to last pages in this document] on their own. Regardless of how you choose to collect information, it is very important to plan ahead for confidentiality and to ensure that no one feels pressured to participate or provide information – all information should be provided voluntarily. For more information, contact Rev. Angela Burden at ABHeriress@gmail.com or call 443-983-1184.




Plan for activities


B’more for Healthy Babies has many ideas for activities and resources for your health ministry to choose from. Remember to choose ones that match the skills and capacity of your health ministry. For example: If your health ministry has a licensed healthcare professional or licensed social worker, you may be able to offer direct services to your congregation such as blood pressure screenings, counseling, linkages to medical insurance, and more. Health ministries at large congregations may even have the capacity to hold office hours, or to hold larger community health events or create and distribute newsletters. If your health ministry consists of lay persons, there are still many activities that you can do that will have a real impact on the health of women. These include participating in B’more for Healthy Babies’ Precious Purple Sunday, distributing materials in the community, and holding special events for families that include education and information (e.g. a baby shower, health fair, or Father’s Day breakfast). Check out our activities and resources page to learn more. For tips on how to plan a health fair or event, check out these tips from the Saint Agnes Foundation’s Faith Toolkit.




Evaluate and report your progress


Tracking and reporting the outcomes of your health ministry are important to sustaining your programs. It helps keep members and the larger congregation engaged and motivated to see progress, and it helps your health ministry identify where things are going well and where improvements need to be made. If your health ministry is very active, you may want to document activities every month or each quarter. Or you may only need to document results after an event or other significant activity. Your report could include items such as the purpose and goal of the program, the number of activities completed, the contributions of partners, the number of people attending or materials distributed, and the number of people receiving services and referrals.





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Sponsored by the

Office of Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young,

Baltimore City Health DepartmentFamily League of Baltimore, and HealthCare Access Maryland

 

Made possible by generous funding from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, City of Baltimore, Maryland Department of Health, and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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