The health service in the UK is vast and complex, and the pressure its under is well recorded. In 2015 the NHS dealt with over 1 million patients every 36 hours, according to the NHS Confederation, so where do we even begin to understand how we can support those who need health services?
On 16 May, we will be launching new research into the Church’s Impact on Health and Care at St Thomas’s Hospital in London. The research will answer two key questions:
- What impact do church communities currently have on health and social care?
- What potential is there for them to be scalable and replicable, in order to have more impact?
If we take a step back, perhaps we should ask ourselves why the church should get involved in healthcare anyway– is that not what we pay our taxes for?
If we need a reason to care about the health of our communities, then we need look no further than Jesus’s example. When he said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10), Jesus demonstrates that he cares about every details of our lives – including our physical wellbeing.
If we need any more evidence that Jesus wants us to be well, then we only need to look at the miracles he performed: he cleansed ten lepers on the way to Jerusalem (Luke 17:11-19); he healed an official’s son in Capernaum (John 4:43-54); he raised Jairus’s daughter back to life (Matthew 9:18-26), to name just three. The list of healing miracles that Jesus performed goes on.
To know that Jesus wants us to be well is not enough – as Christians we are called to follow his lead and, as he says in John 13:34: “Love one another. As I have loved you.” This isn’t a request, it’s a direct command to the church to take an interest in the complete wellbeing of their communities, just as Jesus would have.
Here at Cinnamon, we are focused on doing everything we can to help churches to transform their communities, and one way we do this is by developing evidence that increases confidence in the work carried out by those churches.
Cinnamon Network’s research into The Church’s Impact on Health and Care will explore the extent to which church-led social action projects can help to alleviate stress within the health service, and support patients to achieve better outcomes in relation to health and wellbeing.
The research will be available on the Cinnamon website very soon, and our prayer is that it inspires interest, conversations and opportunities for churches to help even more people live life to the full.