When you are ready to start a small group in your church or community it can be tempting to follow all the steps. Studies have shown however, that the leaders who pray more frequently have a more successful group than the leaders who spend more time in the logistics of preparation.
Enthusiasm can be high when you first start putting your plans together to start a small group ministry for those with chronic illness, but even the best of intentions can actually lead to a decrease in prayer time.
Despite your ability to follow through with each step in organizing a small group in the most efficient manner, it all will be fruitless without prayer and a daily walk with God.
There was recently a study completed by the web site of Small Groups and they found the following:
They found that 83% of leaders who had a strong prayer life reported that at least one person who attended their support group came to know Jesus through the influence of the group. But of those leaders who had what they defined a weak prayer life, only 19% of groups had a member that came to know Christ.
Leaders with a strong prayer life have groups have more than four times the evangelistic impact as groups led by leaders with a weak prayer life.
Are you familiar with the scripture John 15:5? It says, 'I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.'
Regardless of what tips you may discover from friends, church small group trainings, books, or seminary and congregational care resources, remember to keep prayer always the first priority.
John 15:5 does not say, 'I am the vine, you are the branches and whoever has the most books, mentors, funds, resources, disability ministries, time, and energy will bear a lot of fruit.'
With the gift of prayer, God has equipped you with the most precious and essential tool to do the work that He has prepared in advance for you to do (Ephesians 2:10).
Support groups for those with chronic illness in a Christian environment can be a special place where people are encouraged for this illness journey and then eventually become disciples themselves.
We can set our sights on having our small group illness ministries being more than just a typical secular support group where members attend to compare the horrors of living with chronic illness. Too frequently regular support groups can be places to vent and compare who is in the most pain or suffering the worst. This doesn't accomplish anything.
Through small groups with a Christian environment, however, a special oasis for those with illness can be designed. It can be a place where the members and visitors feel safe, comfortable and accepted. Together, they can share about their daily challenges, but also what it is that gets them through the difficult times. It can become a place where God and illness can be spoken in the same sentence. People are provided with a place where they can find eternal hope, even when their temporary circumstances seem overwhelming.
If you are wondering where to start as you begin to consider starting a support group for those with chronic illness in your church, the first place to begin is with a conversation with the Father Himself in prayer.
Where to start after you have prayed? Get <a target="_blank" href="http://tinyurl.com/y379zw9">How to Start a Chronic Illness Small Group Ministry</a>, the new book by Lisa Copen, founder of <a target="_blank" href="http://restministries.com">Rest Ministries</a>. 320-pages of everything you need to know from passion to your first meeting.