Tapping the Gifts of Homebound Leaders by Susan E. Gillies and M. Ingrid Dvirnak

People who must remain at home because of physical limitations have often been seen by the church as recipients of ministry rather than as active disciples. The healthy church engages these people in ministry that fits their life situations. Coordinating this ministry is a special leadership opportunity and can often be handled by a homebound person. Following are some ways to engage homebound leaders:

As prayer partners. Have a volunteer take a card with about four prayer concerns to homebound persons. Give them the card and ask them to pray daily for the next week on these particular concerns. Find out if they would prefer to get weekly updates by mail, phone, or email. (Do not give them a long list of names and then have no further contact for six months.) Give someone on the church governing board the responsibility to phone or send a note every few months thanking them for their prayer ministry. From time to time on Sunday mornings, as the pastor asks the congregation to pray, the pastor should remind the congregation of the ongoing prayer ministry of the prayer partners.

As letter writers. Letter writing is nearly a lost art; yet there is something special about taking mail out of the mailbox and discovering a real letter from someone. Some homebound persons are capable of and interested in a ministry of correspondence. They might start by writing notes to students away at college or to those in missionary or military service. If any members or relatives of members are incarcerated, writing to them can be an especially powerful ministry — not to preach at them, but simply to let them know there are people who care for them.

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