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Hospital and Nursing Home Ministry
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Seventh-day Adventist churches are less likely to be engaged in hospital or nursing home ministry than are congregations of all faiths across the United States. Ministries of this kind include pastors who regularly visit individuals in health care facilities, trained lay visitors, volunteer chaplains and group activities such as worship or Bible study groups for inpatients and the traditional “Sunshine band.”

About one in four Adventist pastors (24%) report that their local church was involved in some kind of hospital or nursing home ministry in the last year, while two in five (42%) of all congregations gave the same response. In both cases about a third of the respondents indicated that they did so in cooperation with one or more other congregations or faith-based organizations.
 
 
It is surprising that, with the Adventist Church so heavily involved in health care, there are not more local churches engaged in this spiritually healing ministry. One explanation might be that there is a widespread feeling among church members that because the denomination sponsors many hospitals and nursing homes, “that base is covered” and local churches need not get involved. A more likely explanation relates to the very high percentage of quite small congregations in the Adventist denomination as compared to many other faiths. The smallest congregations in all religions typically do little more than gather regularly for worship and fellowship.
 
Discussion Questions:
 
1. Does our local church provide any type of hospital or nursing home ministry for our own members or for people in the community? Did it do so in the past?
 
2. Is there a volunteer chaplain or visitation program at the local hospital(s)? Is worship provided regularly at the local nursing home(s)? Is there a cooperative program with congregations of other faiths?
 
3. Is this an area of ministry that we should explore? Should we find a leader for this ministry and get started?
 
The insights provided by The Adventist Congregations Today book and CD-R will help you plan your next outreach activity. Learn more about the Faith Communities Today (FACT) research.
 
Paul Richardson
Executive Director
Center for Creative Ministry

Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, April 19, 2006, Center for Creative Ministry