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Here’s five reasons why churches should be emphasizing physical wellness. 1) It’s our roots. Jesus healed as a way to proclaim the kingdom. We have a long history of health care/hospitals/outreach to the sick. 2) We’re not neo-platonists. We don’t believe the spirit is good but the flesh is evil. 3) We have work to do. Stay fit; fill your vocations. 4) The Church has always been counter-cultural, and our culture is a mess physically. 5) What a great way to connect with health conscious people in our neighborhoods, or those who seek greater physical wellbeing!
That’s the theory. Here’s four practical ways that healthy churches can truly be healthy places that care for body as well as mind and spirit…
1) Consider Parish Nurse Ministry in your congregation. Parish Nursing is the fastest growing nursing specialty in America. The Synod has resources available for starting a parish health ministry in your congregation.
Some districts have organized coalitions of Parish Nurses and they’d all be glad to serve as a resource to your congregation to help get started. Many health and wellness related Foundations will help a congregation get started also.
Some churches begin with a part time RN as a staff person, but most begin their committee with health care professionals who are members of the congregation. Parish Nurses do not provide care, but rather serve as consultants, educators and advocates for the wellbeing of church members. They conduct screenings, seminars for young and old and use many different forums for health education.
I was fortunate to serve with a nurse for over 12 years in parish ministry. What a blessing!
2) Hire the Pastry Police. Empower and embolden a few watchdogs who will turn church suppers and coffee hours into adventures in healthy eating and respect for the magnificent bodies God has given us. Start a movement away from donuts and over to fresh fruit. Turn the potluck that includes 47 cans of creamy soup mix slathered on the veggies into a salad bar (with desserts, of course… in moderation!) Eat food the way God made it, not the way Sarah Lee does!
3) Teach what the Bible teaches about physical wellbeing. The Apostles’ Creed teaches that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139). It was by Christ’s physical body that we were redeemed (1 Peter 1:18-19). We believe in the resurrection of the body (1 Corinthians 15) and that while in these bodies, we have work to do (Philippians 1:23-24).
Christians get this far better than atheists or practitioners of eastern mysticism. We understand stewardship of the physical body. Let’s share the good news of God’s creation and redemption of the physical creatures that we are.
4) Model it. Professional church workers are called to be examples of righteousness in every area of life, and that includes the care and maintenance of the body. If you’re on the Concordia Health Plan, cash in the Be Well, Serve Well money each year by practicing good habits.
Let people know, “I don’t eat that!” when the empty calories are served at church. Live life to the fullest, in worship and adoration of our loving Creator, and model for others the joy of a vibrant, life of vitality, energy and fitness!
Thanks for reading!
Do you serve on a professional church worker conference planning committee? Our staff has vast experience leading groups of all sizes from every church work background through innovative wellness programs custom designed to meet your needs. Contact Program Director Darrell Zimmerman today to begin exploring the possibilities or visit our website to see some of our ideas for your conference!