Faith Community Nursing Frequently Asked Questions

Learn about Adventist Health Sonora’s faith community nursing services

​What is faith community nursing?
Faith community nursing, also known as parish nursing, is a specialty nursing practice that focuses on the intentional care of the spirit as part of the process of promoting whole health and minimizing illness in a congregation or faith community. A faith community nurse is a registered nurse with specialty training in preparation for this specialty practice.

What is health ministry?
Health ministry is a broad ministry through which many distinct ministries might emerge, such as visitation, educational presentations, bereavement and a host of others. A health ministry team is typically comprised of lay individuals as well as health professionals who respond to the call to minister to the health and wellness of the congregation and surrounding community. The faith community nurse is an integral part of a health ministry team but a congregation may or may not have a faith community nurse on their health ministry team.

How do faith community nurses and health ministry teams work together with existing ministries?
The value of each ministry is distinct yet equally important, just as Paul illustrates in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 12. As a congregation moves forward in growing a health and/or faith community nurse ministry, other ministries are considered. Approaches to sharing and caring for the congregation are encouraged to use the model of interdependent wholeness to keep ministries operating in harmony.

What are the main roles of a faith community nurse?

The faith community nurse mainly serves as a:

  • Integrator of faith and health
  • Health educator
  • Health counselor
  • Health advocate
  • Resource and referral agent
  • Trainer of volunteers
  • Developer of support groups

What are the main roles of a health minister?
Each health minister functions according to their abilities and gifts, serving as part of the health ministry team. Roles will vary with each team member. While one might help organize a health education program, another might provide visitation or respite care to a caregiver.

How much does a ministry like this usually cost?
The financial aspects of the program depend to a large extent on the organizational framework chosen, the size and resources of the congregation, and the support from the leadership and denominational philosophies. Faith community nurses work from paid or unpaid models.

If the position is to be paid, will any benefits be provided?
Whether working from a paid or unpaid model, also to be considered are supplies, material, equipment, and initial and ongoing education for the nurse and/or the health ministry team members. Liability insurance also needs to be a factor. It is good to deal with finances early in the development of the program. Networking with other congregations who have this ministry may help address some of your specific financial questions.

How long does it usually take to grow a faith community nursing/health ministry program?
The short answer to this is that it's usually longer than we think! It’s important to remember that this ministry is a marathon, not a sprint. Most everyone knowledgeable in this field recommends taking it slowly and building over time. Whatever direction you take with your ministry, it’s important to put quality into your offering and not try to be too diversified unless you have a multitude of resources. A typical time frame for launching such a ministry is 12 to 24 months.

How do the church and the hospital work together in developing and sustaining this ministry?
The mission of Adventist Health is to share God's love by providing physical, mental and spiritual healing. Partnering with area churches provides us with the opportunity to work within the framework of that mission. Hospitals are committed to providing healing just as the church is a place of healing. By partnering with area churches, the mission of both are enhanced. Resources are shared and built upon. Many hospitals provide training and host regular support and educational meetings for the faith community nurses and health ministry team members. Information regarding needed medical services is also more accessible by having a contact person on staff at the hospital. Hospitals are benefited by having opportunities to educate communities regarding important healthcare issues and services they offer.

Education is essential for initiating such a ministry. Church leadership must be involved from the outset and be willing to support the team or individual who wants to serve. Learn all you can about faith community nursing and health ministry. Helpful websites include the International Parish Nurse Resource Center and Health Ministries Association.

In the areas we serve, Adventist Health is committed to assisting any church in beginning this process and will be available to consult and provide you with material along the way. We also offer a one-day introductory class that provides a manual that will serve as a resource throughout the development of your ministry. Feel free to contact us by e-mail to obtain more information.