The Ministry of Lisa Copen

Lisa Copen, Founder of Rest Ministries which serves the chronically ill, shares about mothering, illness, ministry and more.

ARTICLE: 20 Ways Your Church Can Minister to the Chronically Ill in 20 Minutes or Less


20 Ways Your Church Can Minister to the Chronically Ill in 20 Minutes or Less
By Lisa Copen

Rest Ministries, the largest Christian organization that serves the chronically ill, recently did a poll, asking “List some of the programs or resources a church could offer to make it more inviting comfortable” Below is a sampling of the 800+ responses.

1. Encouragement emails.

2. Make an effort to confirm that 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. An open attitude for a support group like HopeKeepers. It would make me feel very special that there was an understanding of 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, recognize that I may need help getting my meal–or at least understand that I won’t be able to wait in a long line.

9. Be cautious when giving people big hugs. It can topple over or hurt the 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. Can someone with an illness 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 me ways to serve within the church that can be performed regularly, but not on a set schedule. I still want to contribute, but I need some flexibility so that I can do a job when I feel well enough to do so.

14. Make the sermon notes available to download and print out 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. A selection of books on the topic in the church bookstore would be nice. Rest Ministries has a top 100 list of Christian books for the chronically ill for some ideas.

16. Just talk about chronic illness! Mention it in sermons as one of the challenges many people face just like unemployment.

17. Have Christian volunteers from church that will clean house for small fee.  Some have offered to clean my house, but I cannot accept charity yet, but neither can I afford to pay a regular house cleaning service.

18. Help even a fraction with the cost of encouraging books and resources for the church library for the chronically ill.

19. Remember all of the caregivers in the church–not just caregivers of parents, but spouses and ill children as well.

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

Get a free list of 200 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend from “Beyond Casseroles” by Lisa Copen, just signup for to HopeNotes invisible illness ezine at Rest Ministries. Lisa founded of Invisible Illness Week


  susan wrote @

please send me the roller coaster video so i can send it to my family and friends. i would love for them to get a better understanding of my disease. thanks, susan

  Janet Herschel wrote @

Adopting even a few of these suggestions would help those with pain or chronic conditions feel they are not forgotten, that they didn’t fall through the cracks in the minds of their church.

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