You learn that one of your group has just been rushed to the hospital for emergency care.
What do you do?
A member of your group shares with you that her grown son was killed in a car accident.
What do you do?
Someone in your group shares that they are having some real financial problems and may lose their car because they can't keep up the payments.
What do you do?
These are all real-life scenarios that happen in the context of group life. And it is one of the wonderful places where God is able to work through your group and the church to extend His love to those who are in a time of need.
These are examples of crisis. Physical, emotional, financial. All of them are traumatic, and all of them call out for the ministry of compassion & helps in different ways.
Physical crisis. In the example above, one of your members has been taken to the hospital, and may be admitted for an extended time of treatment. The first thing to do is take a moment to pray for him/her as best you can with the information that you have. Don't wait to get all the details, God knows them already anyway. Include in that prayer that God would give you and others a mindset that would prevent gossip to work it's way into the mix in regard to the situation. Then, if you don't know many of the details, you may want to call someone in his/her family to see if you can learn more information about their condition and what the expectation is for their treatment. Remember that it's okay if the family is being conservative with details (as should we be when relating the news to others). Next, notify the others in your group about the situation, soliciting their prayers and sharing what you know. You may begin to discuss any needs that the hospitalization may create for the person's family and how you might help out, such as designing a meal rotation to bring food to the family, snowblow the driveway, etc.
Another aspect of care for your hospitalized member is visiting them while they are away from home. In addition to just dropping in to say hello, you can discuss with them how your group might help out, as well as to pray for them before you leave. These visits should not be long, as the person may need rest and your presence could be very taxing for them. But this visit is an important way to show your concern in a practical and spiritual way. If you are not comfortable making a hospital call and praying for the person, please call the church office and explain that you would like one of the pastoral staff to make a call on the person.
Remember that we all need to use wisdom and discretion in crisis, withholding from sensationalism or imagination. This is one of the biggest challenges in crisis or hospitalizations.
These are just a few tips to help your group get the ball rolling. Be sure to seek God's wisdom and understanding for a better idea of specific ways you can "be there" at your friend's time of need.
For an article about helping a group member going through an emotional crisis, click here.
...there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Proverbs 18:24b