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FIRST-PERSON: Is it possible to intentionally evangelize through healthy living?

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When was the last time you stopped to look at a magazine rack and noticed all the health, fitness, wellness and disease prevention articles and information? Health information is everywhere and our aging culture is very interested in staying healthy and living out the dreams of retirement and futures with family. Yet at the same time, heart disease strikes 1 out of every 3 men under the age of 65, diabetes impacts 16 million lives, cancer kills men and women of all ages, and obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, lack of energy, and stress are main topics among many adults.

The culture is screaming for answers to health issues that Christians are searching for too. Think about yourself and the people in your congregation. Are the ladies trying the latest diet on the market that is “guaranteed” to help you lose “30 pounds in 30 days and keep it off permanently?” Has a deacon recently been told to watch his cholesterol or risk a heart attack? These are very real concerns and opportunities to minister both within the walls of our church and externally to a health oriented culture. What is needed are tools that are relevant to everyday life that impact our culture. Wellness ministry through biblically based health education is a tool your church can use to disciple believers, live a Christ-like example and win your community for Christ. Your church can become a resource to your community that meets existing and future needs.

The steps to intentional discipleship and evangelism through health ministry begin by taking an honest look at your own personal health. As a minister, do you set a good example of wellness for your church members? Have you developed a balanced plan that encourages health for your heart, soul, mind and strength? Jesus clearly defined wellness in Mark 12:30-31. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. And, love your neighbor as you love yourself.” When the emotions (heart), soul, mind and physical being (strength) are all functioning properly in the right balance, we honor God and are a good example to others.

Once you develop a personal plan, communicate the benefits and the importance of wise health choices to your church. Enlist others that have an interest in health, fitness, or nutrition to assist you. This is a perfect ministry and service opportunity for medical professionals in your church to participate and use their knowledge to benefit others. Below are a few ideas to get you going:

— Provide copies of Christian Health magazine, a monthly publication, for your members. It is available on the dated order form along with other family magazines like HomeLife. Use Christian Health as a witnessing tool and place copies in places where people are waiting like doctor’s offices, barbershops, beauty salons, or the Department of Motor Vehicles. Place a label from your church on the cover. Use Christian Health in new member and visitor packets. Since health is something most everyone has an interest in; you can provide this hook and share the gospel at the same time.

— Partner with other health organizations in your community to host a health fair in your church. Many hospitals, colleges, health departments, medical organizations, and the Red Cross are interested in supporting such community efforts. Use this as an outreach tool to minister to the community. Publicize the health fair and promote it in your church as an opportunity to invite neighbors to visit your church in a casual, non-threatening environment. Ask people to register for door prizes by completing a card that gathers prospect information. Enlist a team to follow-up with potential prospects. When you go outside the lines of what is expected and meet a real need of every person, your church becomes a broader resource.

— Offer nutrition and fitness classes that educate individuals and help them achieve their health goals. Weight management and disease prevention help to provide a healthy home environment for growing children.
Polk is the Health Ministry Specialist at LifeWay Christian Resources. For more information about living a healthy lifestyle, check out Fit 4: A LifeWay Christian Wellness Plan or visit the website at www.fit4.com.

    About the Author

  • Branda Polk