How to Start a Network




Determining the need:

Determine if there is a need for such ministry in your area. 

            -Is there already a dementia group in your church that ministers to both the patient and     caregiver? 

            -Is there a ministry like this operating in your community? 

            -Do you believe you are called by God to this ministry?

As the business mantra goes:  “Find a need and fill it!”   A biblical example is the destitute widow woman who was told by the prophet to gather pots and begin to pour oil into them.  As long as she was filling empty pots, the oil continued to flow.  If there are “empty pots” spiritually that need filling by this type of ministry, then gather them together.  Begin to pour in the healing oil of the Holy Spirit and know that as long as you continue to fill these empty vessels the Spirit will continue to flow through you to meet their needs.  


Deciding the group affiliation:

Will your group will be a ministry of your church or a community based ministry? If it is to be a church-based ministry, then you should meet with the church leadership and explain your vision;  how this group fits into the vision of the church; why you believe it is needed; and how you plan to implement the ministry.


Formulating a statement of purpose:

If you are affiliating as a local extension of the International Christian Dementia Network, you may use this statement and adapt it as needed to reflect the individual mission your group:


The International Christian Dementia Network was formed in response to the growing number of Christians affected by dementia–whether through mild cognitive impairment whether by  brain injury, stroke, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, or other forms of memory loss.


This network provides support for two groups affected by any type of dementia: 


            -The Christian Care Partners Network is for the person diagnosed with dementia    and      their caregivers, families, and friends.


            -The Christian Caregiver Network provides support for those caring for someone with        any type and at any stage of memory loss.  This group is for caregivers and their support            team only–not the dementia patient.


Through these Christian networks we “…bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ”. (Galatians 6:2-3, NKJV)





Selecting a leader:

In selecting a leader, consider these questions:

            -Who believes that God has called them to this specific ministry?

            -Who has a spiritual passion to lead the group?

            -Who has a heart for those suffering from dementia? 

            -Who has experienced or is experiencing dementia first-hand and can truly identify with   group members? 


Forming a support team:

Seek people of like heart and vision to join you as co-workers. People join a group and remain loyal to it because they believe in the vision to which the ministry is committed.


Determining your strategy:  

You will need to determine:


            -When you will meet.  What day is convenient for most of the members of your group?

            Will you meet weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly?


            -What time you will meet. Remember that some dementia patients are affected by sun-     downing meaning that they are better in the a.m. than the p.m.  For the Care Partners Network, which includes both the caregiver and patient, morning meetings may be best.


            -Where you will meet.  Some people do not feel comfortable going to another person’s      home for a meeting–especially if they do not know them well.  People may be hesitant to        host meetings–the care-giving spouse is under enough pressure as it is without having to    set up for a group meeting.  Many Celebrate Recovery and AA groups use church     facilities for their meetings, and people don’t seem to mind coming there.  Some             communities have community resource rooms at the local library and some restaurants       have a separate room for group meetings where you can share a meal together.


Publicizing your meetings:

            -Put an announcement in the church bulletin.

            -Announce the meetings during services.

            -Send informational brochures to areas churches.

            -Post notices at the local Christian bookstore and other places where Christians gather.

            -Send notification to your social media contacts and request them to share the        information with their contacts.

            -Ask local rest homes if you can post notices on their bulletin boards.

            -Ask local Christian radio and TV stations to announce your meetings and/or have             you as a guest to explain the vision.







Conducting meetings:


Care Partner Meetings: For the dementia patient, caregiver, family, and friends:


            -Open in prayer and welcome participants.


            -Obtain contact information for new members.


            -Incorporate worship, perhaps using old hymns that dementia patients can identify with.  If you do not have a musician, pre-record music on a CD, IPOD, or your phone and use it        with a speaker system. 


            -Have a member of the group or visiting speaker share inspiration from God’s Word           specifically directed towards needs of the group. It is usually best to use the King James          Version of the Bible, as dementia patients often do not identify with the modern versions.

            Make sure messages are filled with hope and encouragement and specifically         targeted to the needs of this group.


            -Prayer and ministry:  Pray for specific needs of group members.


            -Close the meeting and announce time, date, place of the next meeting.


            -Afterglow:  Allow time for participants to interact with one another after the meeting,     share experiences, fellowship, etc.  Those who are uncomfortable with the intimacy of             such sharing can depart after the formal meeting. Those who need this interaction can            remain.


Care Giver Meetings:  For the person caring for someone with dementia. 


             -Open in prayer and welcome participants.


            -Obtain contact information for new members.


            -Conduct a group discussion where members can share problems, questions,           suggestions, and mutual support.  Be sure that no one person dominates the conversation.     Give everyone a chance to participate.  The environment should be open, understanding,             encouraging, and accepting.


            -Close with a short, encouraging exhortation from the Bible.


            -Prayer and ministry:  Pray for specific needs of group members.


            -Close the meeting and announce time, date, place of the next meeting.