chronic illness tools and resources for churches
COMPASSION. INCLUSION. RELATIONSHIP.
Vital, practical, Christ-centered, and inclusive resources created and curated by those who understand the sweeping impact of chronic illness, mental illness, chronic pain, and disability on every aspect of life are provided below. Together, we are the Body of Christ on earth.
It all begins with God and the decision to follow Him. For Chronic Joy, that includes a clear Statement of Faith.
In addition to having a relationship with God, we are created for relationships with one another. Community spurs us on, encouraging and inspiring us. Community is where we care for each other and help one another up.
It takes time for churches and organizations to flesh out chronic illness ministries within their walls – and it takes people willing to lead even when they might not feel well. Before we even wrote our first book, we created and developed streamlined and easy-to-use tools and resources to make this process easier:
COMMUNITY CAN BE CHALLENGING FOR THOSE WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS.
- Churches may not understand the significant challenges associated with chronic illness, mental illness, chronic pain, and disability.
- Churches may not recognize our needs when we don’t look sick.
- Churches may not yet know how to “do” community for those affected by chronic illness or how to flesh out small groups in creative ways.
- We might need transportation to meetings.
- Meeting times and places may be difficult due to symptoms, medications, treatments, and energy reserves.
- We might need financial assistance to purchase materials.
- We might need wheelchair access to bathrooms, elevators, and classrooms.
These hurdles and many more make traditional community challenging. Yet we were made for community, so where does that leave us?
Let’s begin to broaden the vision for community. Many creative options, such as Google Meets, FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype, are available today. With God at the center, community can creatively thrive.
Because community is essential to God, it’s also important to Chronic Joy. That’s why we’ve published the first three books in the Chronic Joy Thrive study series, the first book in our Abide study series, and a companion resource for small group leaders.
Our hearts’ desire is for small group communities to develop, grow, and thrive.
Build an Illness Ministry
This practical guide walks you through the first steps toward building a chronic illness small group.
Ask Generous Questions
Lean into the living presence of Jesus and cultivate a deeper relationship with one another. When we slow down and really listen to each other, we grow together as the Body of Christ on earth.
Ministry of Reconciliation
Reconciliation is the process of restoring broken relationships, of building something new from the tender soil of forgiveness.
A ministry I support and have benefited from is Chronic Joy. They offer Bible studies, support group materials, and much more for both those with chronic illness and those who serve or care for them. Many congregations have implemented support groups with the tools Chronic Joy provides.
[How Can the Church Better Serve those Suffering from Chronic Illness? Christianity Today]
PARTNERING WITH CHRONIC JOY
Our Licensing Agreement provides the framework for churches and organizations to launch Chronic Joy programs for those affected by chronic illness, mental illness, chronic pain, and disability. Taking this important step opens the door to community and invites people to discover hope, find purpose, embrace worth, and encounter God’s indescribable joy as they learn to do life together.
Are you interested in starting a small group or a chronic illness ministry in your church?
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Christian community is the place where we keep the flame of hope alive among us and take it seriously so that it can grow and become stronger in us. (Henri Nouwen)
Books We Love • Churches
Chronic Joy Publishing
A Labor of Love • Words steeped in prayer become a courageous harvest of books.
Are you struggling? Wounded? Suffering? Lonely? Fraying at the edges? You are not alone. Step into a new journey through illness with Jesus, and discover how radically and perfectly you are loved.
Don't Sing Songs to a Heavy Heart: How to Relate to Those Who are Suffering
Kenneth C. Haugk, PhD
Haugk has written an essential guide on caring for and relating to people as they encounter difficult times in life. This book draws on extensive research of those who have experienced various kinds of suffering and offers key insights and suggestions of what to say and do (and what not to say or do) when people are hurting. With its biblical foundation, compassionate approach, and concrete ideas, this book will help you bring God’s loving presence to hurting people when they need it most.
Joy in the Sorrow: How a Thriving Church (and Its Pastor) Learned to Suffer Well
Matt Chandler and Friends
We all wonder how we will cope in times of terrible suffering and how we can best support others who are suffering. We all ask, "How does suffering square with God's character and purpose?" Joy in the Sorrow is Matt's story of his battle with a potentially fatal brain tumor and the stories of those who taught him – and teach him – how to walk with joy in sorrow.
Mental illness is the sort of thing we don't like to talk about. It doesn't reduce nicely to simple solutions and happy outcomes. So instead, too often we reduce people who are mentally ill to caricatures and ghosts, simply pretending they don't exist. They do exist...
Mental Health and the Church: A Ministry Handbook for Including Children and Adults with ADHD, Anxiety, Mood Disorders, and Other Common Mental Health Conditions
Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness
Matthew S. Stanford
Why has the church struggled in ministering to those with mental illnesses? Each day men and women diagnosed with mental disorders are told to pray more and turn from their sin. Mental illness is equated with demonic possession, weak faith, and generational sin. In Grace for the Afflicted, Stanford informs us about mental illness from biblical and scientific perspectives.
Grace for the Children: Finding Hope in the Midst of Child and Adolescent Mental Illness
Matthew S. Stanford
The church's response to childhood and adolescent mental health disorders has too often been characterized by fear and misinformation rather than grace or wisdom. The result has been families that desperately need practical advice and pastoral care on these disorders and on the thorny issues that surround them.
Is Your Teen Stressed or Depressed?: A Practical and Inspirational Guide for Parents of Hurting Teenagers
Dr. Arch Hart and Dr. Catherine Hart Weber
The teen years are complicated and challenging enough without the addition of contemporary society's increased pressures. It's no wonder many teens are overwhelmed. The result is a generation experiencing greater stress and feeling more depressed than any other. Discover practical suggestions, spiritual solutions, and encouragement in Is Your Teen Stressed or Depressed? This resource helps parents and teens face their feelings of fear, anger, and hurt.
Hold on to possibility every day.
Are you thinking about ending your life? Reach out for support. Are you concerned about a friend or loved one ending their life? Ask. Listen. Love. Pray.
WELCOME. YOU’RE INVITED.
An invitation to Discover Hope, Find Purpose, Embrace Worth and Encounter Joy. Find awareness tools, community connection and a wide range of faith-based educational resources. (Approx. 2 minutes.)
triage your busy life
In this helpful TED TALK, ER doctor Darria Long explains key lessons from hospital emergency rooms on handling stress, chaos, and life. Some helpful insights and tools, simple applications, and ideas for everyday life that everyone (including small group leaders, church and organization leaders, and pastors) can apply include:
- Crazy Busy vs. Ready Mode
- How to Triage
- Prepare for Crazy
- Reduce Your Daily Decisions
- Get Out of Your Head