In the medical world, serious illnesses and death are treated in very specific ways. Most often there are two types of care provided: Hospice and Palliative Care. Hospice most often is for the most serious of health threats. Palliative Care is a special type of care provided for people with serious illnesses as well as end of life situations. This type of care is becoming better known as it is more about providing quality of life. I cannot help but question what we, the church, can learn from this type of care.
Palliative Care is a team approach and provides:
- Close communication
- Expert management of pain and other symptoms
- Help navigating the healthcare system
- Guidance with difficult and complex treatment choices
For us, in the church, perhaps taking heed of the wisdom behind the Palliative Care approach would be helpful as we thirst to establish healthy congregations where worship and Bible study thrive. I am convinced quality care of our congregations can lead to vibrant faith formation.
What can we, in the congregation, provide using the approach listed above?
- Close communication: How can we build relationships to help us to know one another better and provide clear communication through personal contact, social media, and emails?
- Expert management of dealing with “naysayers”: Much of the conflict in our congregations stems from those who tend to have negative feelings and verbalize them. Most of the time, there is no one to address this person’s needs. And in cases where it is best to just let go, we struggle. This can lead to “pain” for the rest of the congregation and in particular, the leadership if not dealt with. How do we bring together a management team?
- Help navigating the church system: Find resources and provide opportunities for those in the congregation unfamiliar with a denomination to learn how to “navigate” and understand the structure of their particular congregation and know what is available to help one grow a deeper faith life. How does one navigate in the congregation presently?
- Guidance: If we deal only with the surface issues, what type of guidance is needed to go deeper and find solutions to the difficulties arising that may cause “pain”? How can we develop a guidance plan?
These are just a few of my own suggestions. I hope you take some time to be realistic about steps needed to ensure continued faith formation growth in the congregation. Although we do not want to think about an end of life situation, it is important to consider how we can maintain a quality of life that makes us healthy and strong for generations to come.
“I pray that all goes well for you. I hope that you are as strong in body, as I know you are in spirit.”
(3 John 1:2)