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Minister to the Chronically Ill: 20 Ways in 20 Minutes


By Lisa Copen

Rest Ministries, the largest Christian organization that specifically serves the chronically ill, recently did a survey and asked people to “List some of the programs or resources a church could offer to make it more inviting comfortable.” They have provided a sampling of some of the 800+ responses, all of which could be done in 20 minutes or less.

1. Send out encouraging emails.

2. Make sure the handicapped stalls in the restroom are functioning and clean.

3. Add padded chairs or cushions to make church easier to sit through. Room for wheelchairs is always a need and don’t forget to include extra places for family members.

4. Have an open mind about a support group for the chronically ill like HopeKeepers. It would make me feel very special that there was an understanding of people’s needs that are not always visible.

5. Add more disabled parking, even if they are temporary spots.

6. An awareness on the part of the ushers that those arriving late may have difficulty walking or getting out of cars.

7. Have a couple of people who could call chronically ill folks and check on them when they can’t make it to church.

8. When suppers are given, I may need help getting my meal, or at least understanding I cannot wait in a long line.

9. Be cautious when hugging. It may topple over or hurt a person.

10. Have a video tape of the service, not just a live web cast. Not all our computers work that well.

11. Check out the church doors and see if someone with an illness can open them with ease. If not, install a mechanical button to push them open.

12. Please don’t tell me that if I really believed and had faith I would be healed by now. And don’t insist how wonderful I look, because I know for a fact that I look terrible and miserable that day.

13. Offer ways to serve within the church that can be performed regularly, but not on a set schedule so that I can still contribute, but there’s enough flexibility that I can do the job when I feel well enough to do so.

14. Provide sermon notes in case I can’t make it to the worship service and want to listen/take notes later.

15. Acknowledge National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Rest Ministries has a book list of top 100 Christian books for the chronically ill. Having some of those books in our church bookstore as a display would be a great outreach.

16. Just mention chronic illness occasionally! Don’t forget to talk about it in sermons as one of the challenges many people face just like unemployment or divorce.

17. Let me know about Christian volunteers from church that will clean house for small fee. Some have offered to clean my house, but I am not able to accept charity yet, but neither can I afford to pay a regular house cleaning service.

18. Have the church help with some of the small costs of providing encouraging books and resources for the church library. The chronically ill often cannot afford all that they’d like to read and will check them out.

19. Remember how many caregivers are in the church, not just caregiving for their parents, but also for their spouses or ill children.

20. Have copies of sermon for free on CD or computer.

©Lisa Copen. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries, a Christian organization that serves the chronically ill. She has authored eight books, including resources for over 300 HopeKeepers groups, a program of Rest Ministries. As editor of HopeKeepers. Magazine and founder of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week, Lisa seeks to encourage churches to increase an outreach to the chronically ill nearly 1 in 2 people in the U.S.

Lisa’s works have been published in periodicals such as Just Between Us and Faith Writers Magazine, and books including God Allow U-Turns. Lisa is a sought-after speaker and has been a guest of radio programs Decision Today, Family Life and Joni and Friends.

Lisa loves being an entrepreneur online and has taken her knowledge of internet and book marketing to a new level with www.scrapbookmyadoption.com where she designs overlay transparencies and www.youcansellmorebooks.com where she posts daily blog tips for book marketers and is releasing multiple “50 Ways to ____” for book marketing and promotional ideas.

She resides in San Diego with her husband and son, and has lived with degenerative rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia since 1993.

Visit her web site at www.restministries.org and sign up for the free online ezine to receive the first 40 pages of her book “Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend.”