It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused organizational leadership to feel an immense weight and responsibility that comes with increased societal need. Churches and ministry leaders have felt and seen the impact of this first-hand. The need for the resources and support that ministries provide has increased from merely spiritual needs and monetary needs to include physical and mental needs. This has left many church leaders asking how they can better support the congregation in a time of medical crisis.
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To understand how ministry leaders can support our parishioners, it is vital to understand their specific needs. In the first few months of the pandemic, over 22 million individuals lost their jobs, which caused greater strain on many individuals’ ability to provide for basic needs such as food and housing. For a number of Americans, this loss was especially detrimental as their employer provided their plan of health care. The loss of a health care plan during a time where individuals needed it the most caused many individuals to be unable to access additional care unrelated to the pandemic. Many individuals and families are still struggling to cover medical bills even after their employment has been restored.
The result of this detrimental loss paired with an increase in medical costs has created an increased burden within our Faith Community. When individuals are unable to receive the proper care they need, it impacts not only the physical well-being of the person, but also their soul through grief, worry, and strife. Some of these debts end up coming back to our Faith Community, resulting in a reduction in tithes and donations, even in attendance.
As church and ministry leaders, we have to prayerfully consider what our response is when members of our congregation express a proven need. Many churches plan for benevolence, but what happens in an unprecedented time when more than lack of food and housing affect the lives of parishioners? While we often do a good job accounting for the elderly individual who needs their lawn mowed or the young single mother who needs help feeding her children, conversations around church and healthcare are not as prevalent.
Galatians 6:2 commissions us with a great task as the body of Christ, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” As the burdens of our congregations increase, how can we ensure that we are bearing the burden with them? Not every church has the budget to provide direct monetary support for its members; but what if you could offer a solution for your Faith Community in crisis, help your church body avoid their debt and strife, and encourage a healthy body as well as a healthy spirit?
The answer isn’t one-size-fits-all, but it is important to consider the resources made available to you through the Faith Community that could aid in the support of your congregation. For many, Health Care Sharing Ministries (HSCM) have been able to support and aid in physical, spiritual, and mental well-being through the support of fellow members of their faith. Christian healthshare ministries allow us to walk out our faith through regular financial contribution, while also allowing our own physical health needs to be met through the contribution of others.
Health care support through a religious group is becoming more commonplace as churches consider how to most effectively use their pastoral care funds. Alternatively, ministry leaders may consider providing information on HCSMs like OneShare Health to parishioners. It is important to create a plan to connect the church body to additional resources to meet their needs.
If we are to be a people who truly bear one another's burdens, we as the church must take up our responsibility to support each other in both body and spirit. As ministry leaders, we should be at the forefront of leading this charge. Before we can lead true change, we must prayerfully consider how to “Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ,” and encourage our congregation to do the same. Learn more about alternative resources such as HCSMs by visiting our knowledge center or browsing our blog!
Want to join us to expand your missions and your reach? When you partner with OSH, you can give people in your congregation something many of them are missing – affordable access to health care. Plus, we’ll donate to your church’s missions and provide valuable marketing exposure for your congregation. It’s a win-win!
“Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act.”
Proverbs 3:27 (NIV)