Inspiration for Health Ministry, by LEM

Something for Everyone

Health Ministry to People of Different Ages

Ministry of Healing Chapter 32 The Child, Chapter 33 Home Influences.  (See also chapter 2, pg. 35-38 about children).

(For this study, read also: Ministry of Healing Chapter 32 and Chapter 33 )

 In doing health ministry, we will meet many different ages. At every different stage in life people have different interests, learning needs, and health needs. It’s important to keep in mind these differences when doing ministry.

1. What are some general principles of ministry to different age groups?

     First, consider the common health needs each age group.  There are conditions which commonly effect different age groups and things which different age groups are at risk for.  We want to help prevent people from “becoming a statistic,” and to prevent human suffering.

     Consider the common interests of each age group.  Within reason, we can think about what they would be interested in hearing about related to their life stage and incorporate some of those things into our teaching and personal ministry, in order to reach their hearts.

     Understand the benefits of intergenerational relationships and try to utilize this in planning programs.  Research studies confirm that intergenerational relationship are beneficial. Our textbook for this study course, Ministry of Healing, pg 204, also talks about the benefits of taking care of elderly in the home, and interactions of older and younger generations;

     “There is a blessing in the association of the old and the young. The young may bring sunshine into the hearts and lives of the aged. Those whose hold on life is weakening need the benefit of contact with the hopefulness and buoyancy of youth. And the young may be helped by the wisdom and experience of the old.”

2. What are some principles of ministry to children?

     We take inspiration from the ministry of Jesus.  He loved Children.  Study and seek to follow Christ’s example of personal caring when ministering to children.

     Ministry of Healing, starting on page 38, speaks about Jesus’ ministry to children. It speaks of the effects of his ministry.  He sought to come down to their level in order to reach them.  He knew that they would listen more readily even than those of older generations.

     A huge percentage of the world’s population is made up of youth.  Almost 1/3 of the population in the underdeveloped countries is less than 15 years old.  In many places where adults are dying young from AIDS and other contagious diseases, children may be responsible for entire families.

     Talk to children as a way to reach out to them socially.

     Use verbal praise and encouragement for small successes.

     Try to come down to a level with children, join them in their activities and play.

     Understand that most health habits are established in youth, so efforts to prevent things like substance abuse among young people are extremely important.

     Understand also that habits such as substance abuse are more common among young people who have fewer meaningful relationships with persons of older age groups (per research).  Things like substance abuse can often be merely a symptom of a greater problem, such as depression or (abuse, neglect, discouragement). 

      In order to make a difference we must truly care about people and let them see that we care, not just preach at them.

      Get kids out in nature. The natural environment is an ideal place for children to learn, and best for their physical, mental and spiritual development. God has made nature full of interesting things for children to learn.  Taking them out into nature for lessons or classes, living in the country, going for weekend trips to parks or camping (when carefully planned), all can have beneficial effects on children’s health and help them to disconnect with some of the multimedia influences that are often teaching messages that are not good for health or spirituality.

     When you talk about reasons they should adopt a certain health habit be sure to focus on things they are interested in, things they can see and feel rather than consequences that will not develop until decades later.  For example, say things like “it will help you grow” or “it will make you strong” rather than “it will prevent osteoporosis.” 

     This is especially true of young children, because they may not even know what the words “prevent” nor “osteoporosis” mean and do not have enough experience to be able to imagine what their life may be like after 5 more decades.

     As much as possible, include activities that involve the five senses for learning.  Use lots of colors, pictures, things they can touch not just see (fuzzy wool on lamb picture, etc.), children’s picture Bible, colorful presentation with fruit, etc. encouraging them to eat “red, yellow, green,” vacation bible school crafts, etc.  You can do nature nuggets, games, crafts, etc.

     Instead of just talking a lot, ask them questions and get feedback.  Ask them to raise hands, answer questions that you ask in a friendly give and take manner.  Asking questions will get people to focus their attention immediately on what you are saying.

     Develop a relationship with young people.  Social relationships are one of the greatest influences in life.  Social support research is showing that simple things like learning young people’s names, playing a game of ball with young people can help improve their health behaviors and reduce substance abuse.  Being involved in programs like Big Brother/Big Sister can be a great way to make a difference in the life of a young person.

     Speak with love in your voice, and don’t forget that children may be present when speaking to any large congregation. Even a complicated message can be made so that children who are present may understand some and listen. For example, a lecture for a congregation which includes information which includes a lot of examples, stories and pictures which all ages may be interested in.  Especially when spoken with kindness in your voice, even more complicated messages can be somewhat understood by kids.

     A likely reason why this does not happen more, unfortunately, is that many who get up to speak are more interested in making an impression by using big words and complicated terminology, rather than sincerely hoping to bless the lives of those who are listening. 

     Create a “teachable moment” before trying to give people health information which they aren’t necessarily interested in.  The way to do this is to create an experience where people will feel a personal need to learn more about a health topic.  For example, before talking about weight management have people weigh themselves on a scale.  Or, have a booth where you check young people’s blood pressures before giving them a pamphlet about healthy eating and blood pressure and talk to them a little about it. 

     Anything that involves a physical, personal experience like blood pressure taking will focus their mind on your topic much more than just words or theories – because it makes it personal.  And it can help them to start thinking “what is my blood pressure,” “am I at risk for high blood pressure?” “what can I do to prevent high blood pressure.”  Then you can talk to them and they will be ready to listen.

     Don’t forget to include a gospel presentation- to encourage young people to closely link their lives with God as the source to find power to make lasting health changes.  And, encourage them to become socially engaged with Jesus as their truest friend, as someone they can talk to about all their joys and sorrows and seek help from. 

     This is so important because many teen health behaviors are more strongly affected by social factors than anything else.   So, helping them to connect with Jesus for the fulfillment of an element of their social needs can help them become more strong and independent of peer pressure influences.

 Cautions to consider when ministering to young people;

     Avoid doing all the talking or doing all the demonstrating if you have some kind of demonstration. Call for volunteers to come get their hands into whatever you are demonstrating. Better yet, have a hands-on learning seminar instead of a lecture.  This applies to adults too.

     When attempting to incorporate things that young people are interested in into your ministry, be cautious about going too far.  Not every interest that different age groups have is helpful or uplifting.  For example, avoid music styles which are similar to worldly fleshly lusts and which may leads to drugs and sexually permissive lifestyles. 

     If kids want to go to a rock concert, they can do that somewhere else. But many churches try to use these kinds of methods in order to increase their numbers, which is based on a very superficial numbers-game idea that if we can count more people in church it can be assumed that our ministry was successful. 

     But that is simply not true if you have let go of Christian principles in the process and your efforts actually break down barriers to worldly revelry, becoming as a bridge to “drugs, sex and rock-n-roll” rather than a hedge of protection from those things.

     Having a hypnotic, rhythmic brain drugs experience with lots of exciting noise and color stimulation might draw a crowd…

…but it won’t win a crown.

     We should avoid merely entertainment-style ministry.   Never assume that young people cannot understand some more complex topics or that they would not be interested in learning about spiritual things.  Many young people are capable of more than you might think, and their minds can be fresh and responsive to new ideas which older generations might reject.  It is commonly believed that Jesus chose fairly young disciples, and it is probably for this reason.

     Kids need to learn to take on responsibilities and focus their youthful energies into channels of ministry. They will not be truly satisfied or happy until they learn to do this, and won’t grow in their spiritual life.  In helping them to find a ministry or mission, in giving them opportunities to minister to others you will give them the greatest gift and some of the most enjoyable experiences of their young lives.

     Maintain appropriate professional and emotional boundaries. Even if you have not gotten your “baggage” sorted out, do not involve impressionable young people into personal dramas and relationships in order to feed your own emotional needs.  They are confused enough as it is at this stage in life.  

     Do not be afraid of teenagers.  Do not think that you have to be “cool.” “Care” is cooler than “cool.” Kids will respond to genuine caring, even if you know nothing about the videos, games and movies that they think are “cool.”

     Stop trying to make an impression. From many years of teaching and working with young people and children in various lines of work, it is my honest conclusion that many who work with children are often more interested in their own career development and creating a guru following than in truly uplifting young people.  So, they put on a lot of show and try to get “likes,” but it’s for the purpose of being noticed and glorified rather than because they genuinely care.

     Then, teachers seem to get jealous of each other and try to put each other down or stab each other in the back if they think there’s any chance the students like what another teacher is doing.

    It would be well for Christians to remember that such behavior will not be rewarded in heaven;

     “Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 6:1

     On the other hand, there are those who take a strict, authoritative approach to dealing with children and young people.  We should avoid reprimanding children constantly or being too authoritative.  This often is not really “tough love” as they would try to suggest – it’s actually just “tough,” therefore it does not help children much.  Many adults who constantly reprimand children are doing so because they feel impatient and secretly feel annoyed by children - not because the are really trying to “teach them a lesson.” 

     “Let not your un-Christlike character misrepresent Jesus. Do not keep the little ones away from Him by your coldness and harshness. Never give them cause to feel that heaven would not be a pleasant place to them if you were there.” Ministry of Healing pg. 43.1

     “The Saviour regards with infinite tenderness the souls whom He has purchased with His blood. They are the claim of His love. He looks upon them with unutterable longing. His heart is drawn out, not only to the best-trained and most attractive children, but to those who by inheritance and through neglect have objectionable traits of character… The Christian worker may be Christ's agent in drawing these faulty and erring ones to the Saviour. By wisdom and tact he may bind them to his heart, he may give courage and hope, and through the grace of Christ may see them transformed in character, so that of them it may be said, ‘Of such is the kingdom of God.’” Ministry of Healing pg. 44.3


Examples of health topics for young children;

Dental hygiene
Hand washing
Eating fruits and vegetables, good nutrition
Avoiding talking to strangers
Examples of health topics for school-aged children;
Bike safety
Water, hydration
Avoiding too much sugar
Electrical shock safety

Examples of health topics for teens;

Dangers of smoking and vaping, addictive substances
Avoiding sugar, sugary drinks (finding healthy alternatives – have a cookie contest for cookies that are sweetened with dates or bananas only, for example)
Encouraging increased exercise
Intake of fruits and vegetables, water, etc.
Sexually transmitted disease prevention

3. What are some principles of ministry to adults in their productive years?

     Ministry of Healing chapter 28 pp 6-8, also page Pg 319, 388

     In adults we begin to see the results of life and established habits. It also can afford us opportunity for them to become interested in health, because people start to feel a need.

     Adults can be the best students because they have a sense of responsibility and life experiences which have shown them the importance of things. Many adults may be zealous to learn.

     We can use more complex information with adults, but we must consider their education level and area of professional expertise.  Even college graduates who may know professional terminology in their own professional area may not understand a plethora of health terms, so it’s better to keep things simple or explain some terminology.

     Be gentle and encourage gradual change. Adults often have long-established habits that can be very difficult to change, and have to deal with family members who may not be ready to make changes with them.

     Encourage goal setting based on benefits they may expect to experience.

     Along with discussing long-term benefits and disease prevention, also emphasize many short-term benefits to health changes which people can see and feel immediately.

     Ask questions that make them think and that they can respond to or give their opinion about.  This often gets people interested in something more than just giving them information. 

     Give them a turn with the microphone.  Let people share about their health experiences, testimonies and what has helped them.  Let them ask questions and give feedback. Dialogue is always more beneficial than monologue.

     Emphasize the power of Christ to help them make changes.  Help them connect with Jesus as a personal friend and savior.

     Draw close to people as Jesus did.  While maintaining appropriate personal boundaries, build friendships through which you can care for and influence people in a good direction.  People will learn more from a friend than from a lecture. 

     Make things personal – create teachable moments through health evaluations and screenings, personal counseling and listening skills.

     Find ways for adults to connect with each other for support and encouragement in their health journey and personal struggles.  Encourage prayer partners and support groups.

     Use motivational interviewing techniques which encourage people to take charge of their own health, rather than just trying to tell them what to do.

     Consider influences that effect their life at this stage- their interests, caring for family, family relationships, stress management.  Use therapeutic listening to show them you care about their difficulties. 

3. What are some principles of ministry to older adults?

     Hearing and vision deficits can make it difficult for them to understand what you are saying.  Be sure to speak louder, project your voice and let older adults see your lips moving when you speak so that they can understand easier.

     Depending on their state of mind and health, you may need to speak more slowly and focus on a few more simple topics.

     The learning of adults of all ages is not so different than with children – people learn best when they can involve their 5 senses.  Try to use colorful things that they can taste, touch, feel and see – such as cooking demonstrations.

     Praise and encourage any progress or improvement, in a sincere way.

     Find ways for them to be able to feel that they are making a difference for someone. Those who can knit or sew can make blankets for hospitalized children.

     Involve older adults in interactions with young people and animals.  Examples include having a cat or two in a nursing home or having a group of older adults take care of chickens.  It can really spark their interest and make a huge difference in their happiness.

     Involve them in gardening projects, or even kitchen pot gardens.  Crafts and hobbies are also beneficial, especially if it involves sharing what they have made with others.

     Find opportunities for older adults to tell their stories and share their wisdom, it is very therapeutic for them and can be beneficial to those of younger generations.

     Find ways for older adults to connect with each other for support.

     Teach with simple parables, stories and examples, following Christ’s model.

     Ask questions that make them think and that they can respond to or give their opinion about.

     Older adults are often at risk for dehydration which can lead to dizziness, falls and broken bones, etc.

     Think of creative ways to get them to drink water.  They may enjoy drinking water with citrus slices and mint leaves more than just plain water, for example.  Putting water with apple slices in the refrigerator over night can give it a nice flavor, or give them herbal, non-caffeinated tea instead of just plain water can help.

     Look for free public resources for people with special needs, such as vision or hearing difficulties.

Ellen White Quotes:

Ellen White Quotes: Who was Ellen White? ; Ellen White named by Smithsonian among the 100 most significant Americans of all time , EGW Link 2

Here Are some beautiful words from the pen of Ellen White that could save many a precious life from going down the path of ruin and degradation…

"Our homes should be a place of refuge for the tempted youth. Many there are who stand at the parting of the ways. Every influence, every impression, is determining the choice that shapes their destiny both here and hereafter. Evil invites them. Its resorts are made bright and attractive. They have a welcome for every comer. All about us are youth who have no home, and many whose homes have no helpful, uplifting power, and the youth drift into evil. They are going down to ruin within the very shadow of our own doors." {Ministry of Healing pg 354.3}

"These youth need a hand stretched out to them in sympathy. Kind words simply spoken, little attentions simply bestowed, will sweep away the clouds of temptation which gather over the soul. The true expression of heaven-born sympathy has power to open the door of hearts that need the fragrance of Christlike words, and the simple, delicate touch of the spirit of Christ's love. If we would show an interest in the youth, invite them to our homes, and surround them with cheering, helpful influences, there are many who would gladly turn their steps into the upward path." {Ministry of Healing pg 354.4}

"Our sympathies are to overflow the boundaries of self and the enclosure of family walls. There are precious opportunities for those who will make their homes a blessing to others. Social influence is a wonderful power. We can use it if we will as a means of helping those about us." {Ministry of Healing 354.2}