Millions of people receive healthcare at faith-based organizations (FBOs) across the nation every year. But do they know what makes a faith-based healthcare organization different from its secular counterparts? If they did, would they seek out faith-based facilities based on their missions of ministry?

There are more differences than first meet the eye. Of course, there are the financial implications of being a nonprofit, as well as the likelihood of a more robust chaplaincy program and perhaps a touch more religious symbolism on the front sign or in the hallways. But these are tertiary differences — simply effects of the ultimate identifier: The ‘Why.’

Why faith-based organizations do what they do is the game-changer. It’s what defines them — literally and figuratively. An FBO operates under a mission statement reflective of particular spiritual convictions, and out of this develops a vision for how they will affect change and spread healing in the community as they move forward.

Healthcare organizations founded upon belief, specifically belief in Christ, are rooted in a power other than themselves. Leadership at these organizations ultimately strives to fulfill the mission of all God’s people — to love others and serve them well. Every decision made, from the CEO to registered nurses to administrative assistants, flows through this core value. Outstanding quality care and service are built on a foundation not of the strength of the individuals but the strength of the God they serve.

Individuals at a faith-based healthcare organization should have a unique dedication to their calling, a personal conviction to serve each patient who walks through the door to the best of their God-given ability.

“The faith-based hospital fulfilling its mission of ministry will be led by people personally committed to that mission,” said Ed Fry, President of FaithSearch Partners. “That commitment may be demonstrated in a variety of ways, some more apparent than others. But that commitment will be there.”

Though secular healthcare organizations all over the world continue to advance healthcare and provide quality care, the ‘Why’ of faith-based organizations of the same caliber enables them to truly care for the whole person, not just physically. FBOs often encourage their staff to pray with patients and their families – when it’s welcome and appropriate — or integrate faith-infused activities into the types of care available to patients to heal the soul as well as the body.

“The ongoing struggle a faith-based healthcare leader faces is balancing the need for humility with being ‘unashamed of the Gospel,’ as the Apostle Paul writes. We should strive to be strong in our conviction, yet vulnerable in our service. Most importantly, we should be obedient to our calling.”

When the driving force behind providing healthcare is a deep personal creed, providing healthcare transforms into more than just fixing a problem, but tending to an individual body and soul. A patient who steps through the doors of a faith-based healthcare organization can rest assured the staff there will do their best to show him the love of Christ by providing a nurturing and comforting environment and top-quality care.

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