FAITH AND HEALTH CONNECTED
Rationale and Process
Who we are: A health care system with a faith foundation and ongoing belief regarding how spiritual issues relate to health and wellness.
What we want to achieve: To draw attention to the spiritual language of health.
Rationale: A key premise of our program is that one's spiritual well being serves as a catalyst for the lifestyle choices one might make. Our goal is to augment the communication of spiritual language to engage and encourage places of faith to also be places of wellness.
Social determinants of health such as poverty and social exclusion, often over look existential/spiritual indicators such as shame, hope or reconciliation. Attempts to engage faith communities can be lost within this non-spiritual language, and yet they are critical partners in addressing these spiritual determinants that affect lifestyle and overall health. (In this toolkit you will find a flyer addressing these issues.) It is critical to utilize the expertise of the faith community in addressing health concerns of their members and therefore our community at large.
Respecting and understanding spiritual language is key to engaging faith communities. Making the connection between the language of faith and the language of health allows communication in the partnership.
In a pilot program to address this discrepancy, Penrose –St. Francis Health Services in Colorado Springs engaged with partnering local churches of six different denominations and demographics. The Pastor/Priest set the stage by preaching on health from a spiritual perspective and then utilizing an anonymous survey tool that projected immediate results on a large screen in a PowerPoint format during their normal weekly Sunday service. With an electronic survey tool in hand, a 20 question lifestyle tool was administered. The survey included issues such as fear, forgiveness, relationships, self-image and stress which are believed to impact health and personal well-being. During the month following the survey, church leaders assessed the data and created a congregational year-long health improvement plan. This plan potentially included a sermon series, bible study, wellness coaching by a Faith Community Nurse, Sunday school classes or education forums all dependent on the personal faith community’s assessment of their members’ needs and church resources.
Churches without current health ministries or a Faith Community Nurse were encouraged to explore the option of this intentional ministry to promote health within their congregation.
This project demonstrated an innovative strategy to assess spiritual well being within the context of a community church. Faith communities engaged in public health work using their own culture of spirituality. This toolkit is provided as support for health-minded congregations or community health care organizations needing foundational information on merging faith and health. With the passing of the Affordable Care Act, creativity and innovation within health care will need programs such as this to create partnerships of care.
- All six churches involved in the pilot project continue to develop relationships with the hospital through the resources provided.
- Three churches developed follow-up surveys to tweak out specific areas of development.
- One church partnered to develop and implement a Sunday school curriculum based on health (included in toolkit).
- Two churches utilized the hospital resources to further educational offerings.
- One church developed an extensive outreach program in their neighborhood based on survey results.
What we learned and are learning: It is about the journey on the road to health for our congregations and our organizations.
As a leader in wellness for the staff in our organization we continue to develop a culture of health requiring more education regarding the religious versus spiritual components. The spiritual aspect of health continues to be a growing edge even when there is commitment to wellness from the physical perspective. People “get it” that spiritual issues undermine wellness but are not sure how to address it within a business setting.
Churches in the pilot are more likely to carry on the work of mind, body and spirit when there is modeling from the pulpit and engagement with an intentional ministry of health and wellness within the congregation. One pastor stated that “ the
Survey results were surprisingly similar in spite of the cultural, demographic and denominational differences. The one stand out was the importance of personal relationships for addressing whole health.
In the end, we learned that the incredible network of churches which exist in every community in America is a key catalyst for improving health and the practice of health in a community.
Click here to open a PDF of the survey.
The Spiritual Well Being Survey is property of Penrose-St. Francis Mission Outreach and the Church Health Project. We request that use of this survey is with permission and collaboration with our staff. There are no fees attached but call or email to find out more about use of the survey.
Click here to open a PDF of the survey's results