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Body Spirit S

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Faith and Health in the Bible Rev. G. Scott Morris, MD FOUNDER OF THE CHURCH HEALTH CENTER

and Susan Martins Miller


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Body Spirit SERIES

Faith and Health in the Bible Rev. G. Scott Morris, MD and Susan Martins Miller

Church Health Center Memphis, TN


About the Church Health Center The Church Health Center seeks to reclaim the church’s biblical commitment to care for our bodies and our spirits. The Center’s ministries provide health care for the working uninsured and promote healthy bodies and spirits for all. To learn more about the Center, visit www.ChurchHealthCenter.org. To learn more about our magazine on health ministry, Church Health Reader, visit www.chreader.org. Body & Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible © 2013 Church Health Center, Inc. Memphis, TN Second Printing, 2015 Scripture quotations contained herein are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, and are used by permission. All rights reserved. ISBN: 978-1-62144-033-8 Printed in the United States of America Written by Dr. Scott Morris and Susan Martins Miller Edited by Rachel Thompson Davis and John Shorb Cover Design by Rachel Thompson Davis Layout and design by Lizy Heard


Table of Contents Introduction 4 Thirteen Questions to Ask Your Congregation

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Session 1:

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Healing and the Gospel

Session 2: God Sees You 15 Session 3:

Putting on Holy Clothes

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Session 4:

More Than Not Being Sick

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Session 5: Better Together 41 Session 6: Call to Community 49 Bonus Session 7:

Brainstorming a Health Ministry

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Introduction A health class at church? What is that about? It’s about engaging with a fundamental dimension of the gospel. Jesus cares about making and keeping people well. Since its early centuries, the church has expressed compassion for the poor through health ministries. More recently, though, we have separated our health and our faith into distinct compartments that rarely intersect. Jesus said he came so we can have abundant life. Wouldn’t we love that? For too many people, real life falls far short of that ideal. Stress at work gets the best of us. Relationships suffer. Time with God turns into frantic prayers when we feel overwhelmed. We whiz through dinner without sitting down with our families. Exercise is something we feel guilty for not doing. Loss crushes us. Is it any wonder that aches and pains drive us to doctors looking for a fix? Just when do we get this abundant life we long for? Despite what many might think, we do not have to die before we get to experience living in God’s kingdom. God created us as whole human beings, body and spirit, and God wants us to live in ways that nourish both body and spirit—together. Body & Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible explores the connection between spirituality and wellness. The Bible has a lot to say about this connection. This is not just a class for health nuts. This is a class for everyone seeking to discover how to connect your health and your faith now.

Regular Sessions In each of six sessions, class participants will explore two areas of learning. Exploring the Bible delves into what the Bible has to say on the session topic. Present the teaching points provided in a style that best suits your class setting. If your timeframe permits, use the optional discussion questions at the end of Exploring the Bible. Exploring My Life gives participants a chance to connect Bible learning to their own lives—and discover how they can move one step closer to discovering abundant life in their real lives. You might like to find a partner and teach and facilitate as a pair. This guide also contains reproducible pages you may choose to provide for your participants. The handouts give visual learners a way to track the major teaching points, as well as ask key questions about how the truths

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Body & Spirit | Faith and Health in the Bible


apply in participants’ lives. The second page of each week’s handout offers personal reflection questions to carry participants through the week. A seventh bonus session offers the opportunity for a group or congregation to brainstorm how you can become involved in health ministries right where you are.

Bonus Box At the end of each lesson you’ll see a Bonus Box. These enrichment ideas will require planning ahead. Some of them can be included in your lesson time, while others will take place at other times during the week. Using the Bonus Box ideas will help people in the class build connections with each other and provide ways for them to experience links between faith and health.

Conversation Starters If you’re wondering how to discover the ways members of your congregation experience health and faith right now, consider using Thirteen Questions to Ask Your Congregation as a starting point. If possible, administer this survey before the first session. Even if not everyone in the congregation will attend the class, invite everyone to answer the questions so you have a picture that reflects your entire congregation. This will serve as a starting point for conversation about health ministry in your church setting as well as your community. Try to take the survey in a setting where people do not have time to over-think the questions. Ideally, they would take no more than ten seconds to choose one of the multiple choice options and then move on to the next question. Also, make sure the answers are anonymous. You want people to give honest answers, not think about how to make themselves look good in the eyes of others. Then look for trends or surprising ways that the answers converge. For instance, one church discovered that its members place a high value on relationships, but most people also were not able to say they felt known and accepted at church. This led leaders to ask, What is the difference between comfortable relationships and true relationships? What might be the path from one to the other? This church also discovered that most of their members felt mostly or completely satisfied with their lives. This made them ask, How can we be sensitive and responsive to those among us who might feel they don’t fit in because they are struggling? These are just two examples. The information that emerges from the questionnaire will generate conversation, rather than conclusions. It may tell you surprising truth about your congregation and move you forward on the shared journey toward health in body and spirit.

Body & Spirit | Faith and Health in the Bible

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Thirteen Questions to Ask Your Congregation 1. In general, how satisfied are you with your life? __ 1. Completely satisfied __ 2. Mostly satisfied __ 3. Partly satisfied __ 4. Not satisfied 2. The words that most closely describe my feelings about my future are __ 1. Uncertain but trusting __ 2. Uncertain and losing sleep __ 3. Expecting hardship __ 4. Nervous wreck 3. What role do major relationships play in your life? __ 1. My relationships sustain me in good times and bad. __ 2. I wish my major relationships were stronger. __ 3. Trying to have significant relationships is stressful. __ 4. I don’t have any truly meaningful relationships. 4. The setting that best feeds my spiritual life is __ 1. Being alone with God __ 2. Learning with a small group of fellow believers __ 3. Sunday worship __ 4. Opportunities for service 5. The most significant issue that negatively affects my physical health is __ 1. Inability to control my weight __ 2. Life stress __ 3. Not understanding my chronic medical condition __ 4. Affording health care 6. Right now, the most meaningful dimension of my life is __ 1. Relationships __ 2. Work __ 3. Service __ 4. Personal spirituality Body & Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible Š Church Health Center, Inc.


7. When it comes to emotional self-care, __ 1. I do a really good job! __ 2. Most of the time I feel successful. __ 3. Most of the time I struggle. __ 4. I feel under water every day. 8. I would most like the church to help me in my health and wellness by __ 1. Increasing opportunities to build relationships. __ 2. Connecting me with someone to talk to. __ 3. Hosting specific events about health issues. __ 4. Supporting me in forming better habits. 9. The best medicine for my soul would be __ 1. Spiritual companionship __ 2. Unconditional love __ 3. Meaningful ways to serve __ 4. A break from the stress of life 10. In your personal experience, which of these statements is most true about relationships in our congregation? __ 1. I experience deep authentic relationships with people at church. __ 2. I experience friendship at church, but it’s not deep. __ 3. I experience helping people in times of special need. __ 4. I experience partnership in ministry. 11. In your personal experience, which of these statements is most true about how we relate with others in our congregation? __ 1. I go deep in the Word with people from church. __ 2. I go deep into life issues with people from church. __ 3. We approach conflict with love. __ 4. I’m confident we listen well to God. 12. In your personal experience, how well do we do with love and acceptance of each other? __ 1. I feel people know me well and accept me anyway. __ 2. I feel most people don’t know me except on the surface. __ 3. We seem to get along, but I’m not always sure. __ 4. Most of us don’t connect with each other. 13. In your personal experience, what keeps you from building deep relationships in the congregation? __ 1. I don’t seem to fit in. __ 2. I’ve been hurt by people in churches in the past. __ 3. I don’t know what will offend people. __ 4. I’m not looking for deep relationships with people at church. Adapted from a congregational survey created for the Church Health Project of Penrose-St. Francis Health Services, which began in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Body & Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible © Church Health Center, Inc.


Session 1

Healing and the Gospel Teaching Goal: Participants will express that healing is a key dimension of the gospel. If we experience this dimension through fullness in our own lives, we are better able to share it with others.

Getting Started: 1

If you are using the handout for Session 1, distribute it now so class members can follow major points and add notes as they wish.

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Welcome your group to the first session of Body & Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible. Begin by asking participants to form groups of six to eight. Give each group a sheet of paper and something to write with. If your setting has tables, you might want to give groups a sheet of easel paper and markers. Ask each group to flip through the gospels and jot down key words that identify any stories about healing. Not every group has to begin in Matthew. Let them know they should do this quickly. Allow eight to ten minutes, and watch the lists grow.

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Debrief the groups by asking one group to read its list, then have the others add any stories the first group missed.

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Present the following teaching points, pausing to invite comments along the way.


Session 1: Healing and the Gospel

Exploring the Bible Today’s Passage Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” —Luke 10:8–9

Take to heart what Jesus thinks about healing. Jesus teaches, preaches, and heals. Fully one-third of the gospel narratives involve healing. Healing was an integral component of his ministry, so we can’t ignore it. Luke is the author of both the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. When looking at these texts together, we see a clear theme: To be followers of Jesus, we must take to heart the teachings of Jesus, and must do what Jesus did—including healing.

Healing announces the kingdom of God. In Luke 10, we read the story of Jesus sending 70 of his followers out in pairs to announce that the kingdom of God—God’s sovereign rule—is here and now.

Tip Pause here to invite a volunteer to read Luke 10:1–11 aloud. Jesus gave specific instructions for how his followers should respond if people received them in peace. They should do three things: accept hospitality without being picky, heal the sick, and tell people the kingdom of God is present. At the heart of those specific, explicit instructions, Jesus said, “Cure the sick who are there and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you’” (Luke 10:9). Jesus did not go along on this particular trek to do the healing work. Rather, he sent his followers with specific instructions to heal as part of their announcement of the kingdom of God. Jesus expected them to do as they had seen him do again and again and to see God’s kingdom power working through their actions. Healing obviously brings benefit to the afflicted person, but Luke makes the point that it is a true sign of the kingdom of God.

Early church stories are full of healing. Tip Encourage class members to have Bibles handy to turn to some of the stories you will highlight from Acts. Paul himself received a healing miracle as part of his experience of the gospel. When he encountered Christ for the first time on the road to 10

Body & Spirit | Faith and Health in the Bible


Damascus, the experience left him blind. God sent a Christian named Ananias to find Paul and heal him (Acts 9:17–18). God demonstrated healing through Paul’s ministry so consistently that people brought handkerchiefs and aprons for him to touch and took them back to cure their sick loved ones (Acts 19:12). Later, when Paul was a Roman prisoner shipwrecked during a bad storm, he had a healing ministry to strangers on an island (Acts 28:8–9). Peter and Paul even have resurrection stories. A woman named Tabitha (also called Dorcas) died while Peter was staying in a nearby town. The Christians went to fetch him. These believers expected healing was possible even though Tabitha had died. They said, “Please come to us without delay” (Acts 9:38). Peter did not shrug them off and say there was nothing he could do because the woman was dead already. He went with them to see what healing God might choose to do. He went upstairs to the room where Tabitha had died and where her body still lay, and there he got down on his knees and prayed. Then he said, “Tabitha, get up.” She opened her eyes, saw Peter, and sat up. Peter escorted her downstairs, a talking and walking announcement of the kingdom of God. Paul knew a captive audience when he saw one. One Sunday in Troas, Paul preached all day and well into the night. Around midnight a young man named Eutychus, sitting in an open third-story window, dropped into a sound sleep—and then plummeted to the ground from that open window. Not surprisingly, Eutychus died. But Paul threw himself on him and said, “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him” (Acts 20:10) and Eutychus went away alive.

Jesus calls us to care about what he cares about. Not every Christian will perform miracles and raise the dead. That is up to God. But Jesus calls all who follow him to live out the same priority of healing of the whole person—body and spirit—that he showed. He asks us to care about what he cares about—wellness and wholeness. Healing that flows through personal care, preventive activities, medical methods, and technology announces that the kingdom of God is present. We cannot separate healing from the gospel message. If we are going to do what Jesus did, and as his first-century followers did, we must find some way to be involved in a ministry of healing. As the body of Christ, the Church, must show the here-and-now nature of the kingdom of God through healing.

Wellness is a pursuit of the wholeness God wants for us. Can we show what we have not experienced? This class is about our experience of God’s healing. It’s about our pursuit of the wholeness God wants us to have, body and spirit. We will not talk only about theological or biblical interpretation in an abstract way, but also ask what those things have to do with our real lives where we get stressed and confused and tired and impatient.

Discussion Questions • How has this review of healing in the first century of the gospel made you think differently about the subject? • In what ways is healing central to the gospel message in the twenty-first century?

Session 1 | Healing and the Gospel

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Session 1: Healing and the Gospel

Exploring My Life Ask participants these questions. If possible, record the responses where everyone can see them. What paralyzes us? What keeps us from moving forward to better health? (You might hear answers such as feeling as if we can’t stay on a diet or find time to exercise. Too much stress. Not enough time.) Feelings of guilt and judgment often prevent us from moving forward toward health. We feel guilty about what we eat, that we don’t exercise enough, and we barely pray at all. The first step we can take toward health is to change our understanding. Health—wholeness of body and spirit—is more than the absence of disease. It means being able to do what God calls us to do. Health revolves around finding significance and meaning. If we don’t have meaning in our lives, we try to find it somewhere, often in unhealthy ways. How might lack of meaning in our lives show up in lifestyle choices? (Answers might include use of tobacco, poor food choices, alcohol, sedentary lifestyles, relationship choices, withdrawal, sexual behavior, illicit drug use.)

Bonus Box

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If you used the Thirteen Question to Ask Your Congregation survey (page 6), today’s session may be a good time to begin discussing the patterns of links between faith and health that emerged from the responses. If you have not yet administered the survey to the congregation, you can ask class members to take it and plan to begin a conversation about results later. Make sure that answers are anonymous and confidential.

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When we don’t have genuine meaning in our lives, or even if we struggle in just some areas of our lives, we comfort ourselves, mask our pain, and take risks. How might comforting ourselves, masking our pain, and taking risks show up in threats to our health? (Answers might include heart disease, cancer, accidents, diabetes, family stress, loss of employment, HIV/AIDS, suicide.) Physical health issues often begin in the spirit, though we may not realize this when we begin habits that threaten our health. Long before we put words on our feelings, a lack of meaning or significance makes us reach for comfort foods or spend another evening on the couch or engage in behaviors we know are risky. Body and spirit are connected. Healthy spirits and healthy bodies go hand in hand. Recognizing this connection is the first step toward improved health in both dimensions.

Tip: If you are using the handout for this session, point out the three questions in the Exploring My Life section. If you have time, encourage class members to share answers with others in their group. If you’re out of time, encourage class members to reflect on the answers at home. You may also want to point out the Personal Reflection Questions on the second page of the handout.

Body & Spirit | Faith and Health in the Bible


Session 1

Healing and the Gospel Whenever you enter a town and its people welcome you, eat what is set before you; cure the sick who are there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” —Luke 10:8–9

Exploring the Bible • Take to heart what Jesus thinks about healing. • Healing announces the kingdom of God. • Early church stories are full of healing. • Jesus calls us to care about what he cares about. • Wellness is a pursuit of the wholeness God wants for us.

Exploring My Life Which point made today gives you the greatest insight into the health of your own spiritual wellbeing?

Think about the health of your congregation. Where could you explore more deeply what it means to connect body and spirit?

Think about the wider community. How do you think the needs of the community compare to the needs of individuals in your church?

Body & Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible © Church Health Center, Inc.


Session 1: Healing and the Gospel

Personal Reflection Through the Week How have you experienced God’s healing in your life in the past?

How would you like to experience God’s healing in your life in the future?

What factors in your life contribute to how you experience God?

Write your own definition of wellness.

What would you say is missing from your personal sense of wellness?

What is your favorite healing story from the Bible? Why?

Body & Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible © Church Health Center, Inc.


Session 2

God Sees You Teaching Goal: Participants will focus on seeing themselves through God’s eyes as body and spirit beings.

Getting Started: 1

Take a moment to invite anyone who wishes to share an insight that came through using the personal reflections handout from Session 1 since you last met.

2

Review main points of first session: • One-third of the gospel narratives give us stories of healing. If we are to be faithful followers of Jesus we will be involved in experiencing and helping others to experience healing.

3

If you are using the handout for Session 2, distribute it now.

4

Present the following teaching points, pausing to invite comments along the way.


Session 6: Call to Community

Personal Reflection Through the Week Are you more comfortable with change that happens in your life quickly or more slowly?

What picture might God have of your future?

Name one thing you would like to be different in your wellness three months from now.

Name one thing you would like to be different in your wellness one year from now.

What resources can you call on to help you make changes for better health?

How might making changes for better health draw you closer to God?

Body & Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible Š Church Health Center, Inc.


Bonus Session 7

Brainstorming a Health Ministry This session is chance to throw the question wide open: What might a health ministry in your church look like? Remember not to go in with any conclusions in mind. The goal is to involve the people in your class, or in your church more widely, in imagining what might come to be in the future by dreaming. Evaluating and sorting ideas come later. • How can your church encourage its members on a journey toward health? • How can your church reach out to the community around you with a health ministry?

Brainstorming Rules Follow basic brainstorming rules. • Any idea is welcome. • Do not judge or evaluate during brainstorming. • Every person has equal worth to contribute. • Gather as many ideas as possible.

Brainstorming Methods Here are a few methods for gathering ideas from your group. Use the ones that seem most suited to the size and temperament of your group. • Give each person sticky-notes. Write individual ideas on notes and stick them up on sheets of newsprint paper on a wall or bulletin board. • Form small groups and ask each group to create a list on newsprint paper. • Pass out index cards and ask people to record each idea on a separate card. • Write the words “Health Ministry” in the center of a white board. Take turns passing around a marker. Each person adds a word or phrase to a growing web on the board. • Use a flip chart and record every idea you hear people mention in an uninterrupted flow of conversation for a specified period of time. • Invite people to make sketches of the health care ministry they dream of.

Brainstorming Follow-up Plan a time to follow up with the ideas generated in your brainstorming session. People who are interested in a future health ministry can help sort and refine ideas. This may be the beginning of a health ministry team that will bring the best ideas to life in your community.

Bonus Session 7 | Brainstorming Health Ministry

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Faith and Health in the Bible

Body Spirit SERIES

About the Authors

Discover how to connect your health and your faith now. A health class at church? What is that about? It’s about engaging with a fundamental dimension of the gospel. Jesus cares about making and keeping people well. Since its early centuries, the church has expressed compassion for the poor through health ministries. More recently, though, we have separated our health and our faith into distinct compartments that rarely intersect. Jesus said he came so we can have Each session gives abundant life. In Body and Spirit: Faith and Health in the Bible, we explore the participants a chance to connect the Bible gospels to discover the connection to their own lives. between spirituality and wellness. The Bible has a lot to say about this connection. This is not just a class for health nuts. This is a class for everyone seeking to discover how to connect your health and your faith now. Filled with thought-provoking questions, this study will serve as a starting point for conversation about health ministry in your church setting as well as your community.

1210 Peabody Avenue Memphis, TN 38104 www.ChurchHealthCenter.org

Rev. G. Scott Morris, MD is a family practice physician and ordained United Methodist minister who founded the Church Health Center in Memphis, Tennessee. The center, formed in 1987 to provide quality health care for working, uninsured people, has grown to become the largest faith-based clinic of its type in the United States with more than 36,000 patient visits per year. He is the author of God, Health, and Happiness: Discover Wholeness in Body and Spirit. Susan Martins Miller is a staff writer for the Church Health Center. She has authored more than 50 books for children and adults, including serving as the collaborative writer for God, Health, and Happiness. Prior to joining the Church Health Center in 2012, she was a full-time freelance writer for seven years. She lives in Colorado with her husband and two twenty-something children.

Faith and Health in the Bible Preview  

A health class at church? What is that about? It’s about engaging with a fundamental dimension of the gospel. Jesus cares about making and k...

Faith and Health in the Bible Preview  

A health class at church? What is that about? It’s about engaging with a fundamental dimension of the gospel. Jesus cares about making and k...

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