HopeKeepers support groups are support groups/Bible studies designed to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of the person who lives with chronic illness or pain, through a Christian environment.
Through the support group/Bible study setting you will have the opportunity to grow spiritually, while surrounded by others who share similar circumstances, unrevealed answers, and even joys, while living with a chronic illness or physical pain.
Are you feeling called to start a group for those with chronic illness?
HopeKeepers(R) is a program for churches and communities to reach out to the chronically ill with comfort and understanding, from a faith-based environment.
If you live with an illness or care about those who do, you may feel as though you are being challenged to start a small group for those who are seeking chronic illness support–with Jesus as the foundation of it. But how do you do this if you are chronically ill yourself? Or an even bigger question may be… how do you get people to attend when they aren’t feeling well?
Welcome to HopeKeepers (R)
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, for an introduction about our HopeKeepers program.
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 .
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… and 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.
Connect with other HopeKeepers leaders
Join our group on Facebook just for HopeKeepers leaders (or those thinking about starting a group). Here you will find resources, support, you can ask questions of other leaders, share your group photos, whatever is on your mind. We are here to support you as a leader.
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!
Order any other resources to help you feel comfortable in presenting your idea to the church
We have a complete HopeKeepers Start-Up Kit for churches but it is NOT required. This kit will provide you with Bible studies, a training manual on the specifics of chronic illness ministry, drama skits for your church, and much more, including books, an audio CD, and a huge binder of resources for the leader to feel well-prepared.
If you are approaching your church about this option, be sure to let them know how valuable such a ministry will be in the church and use your personal experiences as examples. If your church chooses not to order the HopeKeepers Start Up Kit, you can order materials individually. We recommend the following materials written by our founder, Lisa Copen:
- How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry – This 320 page book 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! Buy 3 for just $15 to give a couple away to other church leaders.
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.”)
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 and any profits helps keep Rest Ministries going and designing new resources.
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
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).
Looking for more resources?