Dealing with Homeless People: Its Possibilities and Pitfalls

Dealing with Homeless People: Its Possibilities and Pitfalls

      

      Ministry focused exclusively on the homeless can prove fruitful, but it can also become a bottomless pit of wasted time and resources unless strict guidelines are set in place. Many have focused on the homeless and have found that it is hard establish a church just for them, or even a stable ministry. Most of the homeless suffer with some kind of mental or emotional disorder. They remain content with their identity as victims living in poverty, and seek the attention that their identity brings them.

            Let your compassion be tempered with knowledge of what really helps the homeless. Churches have helped many get cleaned up, get an apartment and get a good job within their ability to handle, yet many soon return to the streets and leave their job without giving a reason. Christians who have set up a business to give the homeless employment have soon found the business earns no profit. Although many of these homeless are solidly converted to Christ and remain in fellowship with their church, they prefer street life for reasons of their own, that even they cannot articulate. What helps the homeless, then, is not always obvious, and seldom involves any significant material help, apart from occasional temporary medication or aid to get into a substance abuse recovery program.

            To help the homeless, the last thing one should do is to feed their phantasies by playing their game. Evangelize them and leave the door open for those who genuinely want to escape the streets, but do not start unrealistic programs that pour thousands of dollars and man-hours into the maw of an insatiably hungry monster, reinforcing their debilitating dependence. Rather, offer to receive the homeless into a special small group organized for them that provides them with Christian instruction and loving acceptance. Get them into a recovery program if they are addicts. If your church has no such group and wants help to form one, then do an online search for those in your city who have experience with recovery groups and can advise you.

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