Information for Church Leaders
Churches and church leaders can do a lot to support people struggling with eating disorders in their congregation and when working in the community. From simply having a better understanding and an awareness of where people can get help, through to making some simple changes and considering sufferers when planning events or even when preaching, churches can take steps to make sure that they are not places that sufferers find threatening, frightening or even impossible to attend.
The most important reason to support sufferers and help them to be able to come to church is the impact that connecting with God can have for sufferers. We know that full recovery is possible, and many of our members have wonderful testimonies of how God has brought them through their journey to recovery and good caring relationships in church that have supported them through tough times. Remember, caring for those suffering from eating disorders is not just about sufferers, but their family and friends as well. Looking after someone else who is suffering is very hard, and carers need as much support for themselves. But we hear time and time again of well meaning but unhelpful reactions from people in churches who do not understand the complexity of eating disorders.
So we would encourage you to think about what how your church would respond to someone suffering from an eating disorder. ABC has links with many churches and is a resource for them, not only in terms of our literature, our awareness campaigns and the courses for sufferers that you can run in your church but also by way of advice by phone and email. Whatever your role in the church (minister, youth leader, pastoral care leader or member of the congregation), it is possible to make sure that your church is somewhere that sufferers and carers can come and be accepted and supported. Through doing that you may very well form a critical part of their recovery.
For General tips for how to support sufferers in your church and an insight into what eating disorders are about, please request our Guide for Church leaders and a church pack.
We also produce a resource for students and youth workers called Bitesize, please visit our publications page.