Saturday, August 9, 2008

20 Ways In 20 Minutes

Minister to the Chronically Ill: 20 Ways in 20 Minutes By Lisa Copen

Summary: Ministering to the chronically ill doesn't have to be time consuming for your church!

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 emails that are encouraging.
2. Make an effort to confirm that the handicapped stalls in the restroom are functioning and clean.
3. Padded chairs or cushions, room for wheelchairs, and plenty of room for my family to sit with me.
4. Be open-minded about a support group for the chronically ill like HopeKeepers. It would make me feel very special, knowing that there is an understanding of people's needs that are not always visible.
5. 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. Ask volunteers to call people with chronic illness just to check on them when they don't make it to services.
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 gentle when giving people big hugs. It can topple over or hurt a person.
10. Video tape of the service for DVD, don't just do a live web cast. My computer doesn't 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. Stop telling me that if I truly believed and had faith I'd be healed by now. Please don't go on and on about how good I look even though 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. Have sermon notes available so I can listen later or even just review what I didn't catch the first time.
15. Acknowledge National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week. Rest Ministries has a nice book list of top 100 Christian books for the chronically ill. It would make a nice display in our bookstore that week.
16. Just mention about chronic illness! Talk about it in sermons as one of the challenges many people face just like unemployment.
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. Help with some of the small costs of providing encouraging books and resources for the church library the chronically ill can check 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.

rest@restministries.orgAuthor's URL: a chronic illness support community with dozens of articles, online groups and community groups at Lisa Copen is the founder of Rest Ministries and editor of HopeKeepers Magazine. . She is the author of various books and founder of National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week at

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