It is easy to accidentally overlook the homebound in our churches because we do not see them often, if at all. These members may be elderly, undergoing cancer treatment, living with a severe chronic illness, or facing another type of disability. Although these brothers and sisters in Christ cannot attend church services regularly, they are an indispensable part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:22).
Those who are homebound need spiritual care from their church, and some of them may need physical help as well. How can a church serve and include their homebound members? Consider these practical ways to reach out to them.
1) Visit them in their homes. Those who are homebound need fellowship with the body of Christ. A short visit can be very encouraging to one who is often alone. Taking time to read Scripture and pray with them will minister to their souls. In some cases an in-person visit may not be possible, but a phone call, gift, or letter will communicate love and care.
2) Help with transportation. Some members may be able to attend church if someone can provide transportation. Others may be able to attend if someone is willing to arrive late or take them home early. Many of the homebound members may never be able to attend a service, but may need assistance with transportation to medical appointments.
3) Provide physical assistance at their home. If the homebound member is living in their own home, they may need help with cleaning, yard work, or shopping. It could be helpful to ask if this type of assistance is needed, and then organize help if it is.
4) Live-stream the church service online. Church members who are homebound often miss the preaching of the Word and corporate worship through singing. Listening to the church service from home will help feed their souls. If a live-stream is not possible, providing recordings of the services would be beneficial.
5) Send a card in the mail. A card is a lovely gift for someone who often misses out on fellowship due to being confined to their home. Cards from individual members are special, and a basket of cards from the whole congregation would be an especially delightful gift!
Those who are homebound in our churches are precious in the sight of God. Although we may not see them often, they are vital members of the body of Christ. Let us look for ways to serve them and include them in the life of the church even when they are confined to their homes.
How have you been blessed by serving a homebound member of the church? If you are a homebound member, how has your local church served you?
Rachel Lundy is a wife and mother of two children. She lives with dysautonomia, a condition that leaves her mostly homebound. She writes at Cranberry Tea Time about life with a chronic illness and the hope and joy she has in Christ.