The Church's healing ministry is increasingly a visibly established dimension of normal daily life within Christian communities, expressed in many ways including publicly and privately, ecumenically and in co-operation with the provision of healthcare. We need recognisable and accepted standards of good practice for all involved in this ministry, to encourage and retain the confidence of people who seek this ministry and those who minister, as well as affirming good practice where it already exists.
The ways in which the healing ministry is carried out reflect continually changing values and attitudes within contemporary society, to health and healing. The Church of England's response is...
to seek to ensure that the ways in which it is carried out are theologically sound, responsible, loving and leading people into a closer relationship with God. The ways in which we minister to people in need is one of the most important ways in which we spread the message of the gospel. (page 18, A Time to Heal: The Development of Good Practice in the Healing Ministry — A Handbook, published on behalf of the House of Bishops in 2000, by Church House Publishing, London).
In 2000 the House of Bishops of the Church of England agreed to the publication on its behalf of the House of Bishops' guidelines for good practice in the healing ministry.
The healing ministry is Jesus' ministry entrusted to us, always to be exercised with reverence, love and compassion. The guiding principle is to recognize the presence of God in those receiving this ministry and honour his presence in them.
- Prayer and preparation. The healing ministry is based on prayer in the name of Jesus Christ; those involved in this ministry should be prayerful, regularly practicing Christians who acknowledge his healing love and are willing to pray and listen for guidance in order to minister appropriately to others.
- Safety. All reasonable steps should be taken to ensure the safety of the person receiving this ministry. People have a right to know what is being provided and how they will be ministered to.
- Accountability and diocesan regulations. Everyone involved in the healing ministry needs clear lines of accountability to recognize who holds relevant authority within their parish church. All reasonable steps should be taken by those involved to ensure their awareness of current law as it applies to this ministry, e.g. data protection, informed consent. Legal liability issues must be considered from an insurance viewpoint. Existing diocesan regulations should be also followed.
- Training. Individuals should receive appropriate training in this ministry and be kept up to date with developments and its ecumenical expression. Healing team leaders must ensure that members have opportunities for training and a common understanding of good practice.
- Competence and boundaries. Persons in this ministry should be aware of their personal limitations and ensure that they are properly prepared and fit to be involved. If fitness is doubtful or compromised or there is a conflict of interest, they should withdraw from ministering to others. Professional boundaries with health care professionals and chaplaincies should be observed.
- Personal conduct. The healing ministry is part of the message of the gospel; the personal conduct of everyone involved should encourage confidence in this ministry and not undermine it. Language, personal hygiene, general appearance, body language and touch used by those ministering should be appropriate, considerate and courteous towards those receiving it. No-one should be ministered to against their will.
- Confidentiality and public statements. People's privacy and dignity should be respected and protected. Any limitations to confidentiality should be explained in advance and any disclosure should be restricted to relevant information. It should be conveyed only to appropriate people, normally with the parishioner's consent, and not misused in any way.
- Counselling and psychotherapy. These specific treatments, as distinct from pastoral care and listening, should only be provided by accredited counsellors and therapists who adhere to the codes of ethics and practice of their regulatory organizations and who have professional insurance cover.
- Deliverance. The House of Bishops' guidelines (1975) should be followed and diocesan advisors consulted when necessary.
- Partnership. The healing ministry should be carried out in co-operation, where appropriate, with chaplains and representatives of our ecumenical partners, and those involved in professional and voluntary healthcare, whilst recognizing that they may be bound by other codes of conduct.
Copyright © The Archbishops' Council 2000, from the report A Time to Heal.
Download a PDF copy of these guidelines.
The Church of England's House of Bishops' guidelines for Good Practice in the Deliverance Ministry 1975 (revised 2012)
Jesus, in his life, suffering and death, and in his resurrection and ascension defeated evil and brought the hope of salvation to everyone. So we can be confident that when we pray the Lord's Prayer for deliverance from evil, God hears us, and that praying with people for their needs and protection is often an appropriate way of ministering to them.
Some people, however, seek specific help when going through times of suffering and anxiety, or when distressed by what seem to be continuing experiences of evil within them or around them. For these people, it may be right to ask for God's saving help through the Church's deliverance ministry.
However, particular caution needs to be exercised, especially when ministering to someone who is in a distressed or disturbed state. Consequently, the guidelines should be borne in mind in relation to requests for the ministry of deliverance.
For the full text of these updated guidelines for good practice in the deliverance ministry, please go to: Guidelines
For general information about safeguarding and national policy and practice guidance in the Church of England and for further links, go to the Church of England website and search for the most up-to-date policy and practice statements, the latest news and resources with regard to safeguarding.