One of the basic tenets of churches of most religions is to reach out into the community and show the love of God to others. Nursing home ministries are a wonderful way to do this. The church can reach out to a sometimes forgotten portion of the population and be a blessing to them while allowing older saints to be a blessing to the ministry workers as well. Setting up a nursing home ministry may require jumping through some hoops, but by following these few simple steps is possible.
Ask your pastor to write a letter that you can take with you to meet nursing home directors. The letter should tell a little bit about the church as well as give some information about you and your testimony and what you mean to the church. The letter also should give the pastor's blessing of this program. In the end this letter will give you credibility when you meet with the directors. It is the nursing home director's job to make sure that her residents are safe and those running activities know what they are doing.
Call local nursing homes and tell them you are interested in having church services for their residents. Some nursing homes will allow this and others won't, but generally they are happy for people to come in and run activities because it will give their staff a little down time. Be aware that nursing home ministries are fairly popular and you may have to be put on a waiting list or share time with other churches and only have services once a month.
Visit the residents of the nursing home a couple of times before you have your first Sunday service. Also encourage those that are going to volunteer to visit the residents of the nursing home. This will allow the residents to get to know you and your workers and they'll be more apt to come to your church service.
Decide what supplies you are going to need and organize them. When you visit the residents, take a look at the space that will be used for your church service. See if there are song books or a piano, and make a note if you need to make arrangements to bring song books and a keyboard.
Prepare for the first Sunday by gathering your volunteers and discussing the way the service will go. If you have a piano player and a song leader give them the names of the songs that will be sung. Pick familiar songs such as "Amazing Grace," so that the residents can sing along even if they can't see the song books.
Have your first service. Everyone should arrive about half an hour before the service begins. Delegate responsibilities so that everyone has something to do. There should be someone responsible for staying in the service area to greet and talk to those who come to the service early. The piano player should begin playing five to 10 minutes before the service. Others should be going room to room and inviting the residents to church and assisting them to the service if need be. For the first Sunday have several large-print Bibles available for residents and consider giving them away.
- Ask the nurses before you give any resident something to eat. Most residents will have some type dietary restrictions.
- Try to keep a core group to work in your ministry so the residents will see the same faces from your church and recognize you.