If you have a chronic illness you may feel as though you are being called to start a small group or support group environment for those who are seeking chronic illness support. This could be a HopeKeepers (R) group! HopeKeepers groups are an exciting way to reach out to people who live with illness or pain. You will discover that they need encouragement and support, but they are oftentimes desiring to encourage others and pass along how God has worked in their life!
Please watch the short video clip from Rest Ministries founder, Lisa Copen:
Starting a support group doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Here are the first steps to helping you get a HopeKeepers group off the ground. Sign up above and you will instantly receive a free chapter of a How to Start a Chronic illness Small Group Ministry . For additional resources and information in getting your HopeKeepers group started, click on the category of blog posts that feature HopeKeepers Start Up Resources.
This page you are on now is one you will want to come back to, so make a note of it!
THE NEXT STEPS
Think about it – Pray about it. Pain is never fun, but pain with purpose is so much easier to live with. We encourage you to consider starting a chronic illness support group in your church or community and becoming a “wounded-healer.” We encourage you to pray about it and talk it over with your family. If you do not currently receive our daily devotionals, sign up in the column on the right to not just be encouraged, but to become more familiar with our Rest Ministries support family here.
Get to know Rest Ministries and HopeKeepers a little better. Visit our social network here at Rest Ministries, called “The Sunroom.” There is a message board there (a group) just for HopeKeepers leaders or those who are interested in learning more. You don’t even have to join to read.
Get specific information on leading an illness group. Buy “How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry” - This 320-page book, written by Rest Ministries founder Lisa Copen (2010) is packed full of all of the group leadership information you can imagine! You may also be interested in this article by Lisa: A Checklist of 36 Steps to Starting a Support Group – invaluable! Podcast - Listen to a 1-hour podcast by Rest Ministries founder, Lisa Copen, about starting a HopeKeepers Group.
Start taking notes to be able to write up a draft proposal to present to your church. See an example here. (Send us yours too to post!) There are also instructions on how to do this in the book if you are feeling a bit lost.
How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry - This 320 page book, written by Rest Ministries founder Lisa Copen (20101) is packed full of nearly all of the leadership information you will need.
- When Chronic Illness Enters Your Life Bible Study (You can order more later if you decided to start a group.)
- We also have a number of helpful books available about Christians and chronic illness. A great one to use for devotional time is Mosaic Moments, by Rest Ministries founder and friends.
- Beyond Casseroles: 505 Ways to Encourage a Chronically Ill Friend is a must!
These materials and the HopeKeepers’ Info Packet will lead you through the “Am I really prepared to do this?” questions, the practical things to keep in mind when organizing such a group, and the theological issues that you may encounter and how to address them. (People are often hesitant to lead such a group, feeling, “What would I say if someone say, ‘Why is God doing this to me? Why aren’t some people healed?’ etc.”)
Lisa Copen, our founder, wrote the above books because she was unable to find any resources that directly addressed chronic illness ministry within the church. We highly recommend them. If you are able to order just 1 item, How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry is the book to read. It will lead you from wondering about leading a group to either deciding against it for now or up through the actual group meetings, materials.
>Most churches will be happy to pay the small amount necessary for these materials. Although we are non-profit, we have not received enough funding to distribute these resources free of charge. Thanks for understanding.
Register as a HopeKeepers group! We like to keep in touch with you so that we can better understand the needs of the chronically ill, and what other programs and resources you desire. We will follow up in time to see if you have noticed changes in your church since you began the ministry and outreach. You may fill out the online form or print out this one and mail it to us Registration form – .pdf file
NEXT: Please drop by our HopeKeepers Leaders Group in the Sunroom and introduce yourself! To enter the room use this link to “be invited” and join (we are currently updating our social network so this is available, but will soon be much better! You can network with other churches and find out what is working best for them.
As our ministry grows, you’ll be glad to be a part of the HopeKeepers ministry, a large network of churches, dedicated to addressing the personal needs of those dealing with illness, which is nearly half of your congregation (Chronic Care in American study).