Sometimes we do nothing about homelessness because we don’t know what real impact we as individuals, or even as a local church, can make. God never intended for one person to do it all. When everybody does their part, we can make a greater difference.
From Him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Eph. 4:16)
To know your part, start by identifying the spiritual gifts God has given you. Then look for ways to serve that fit your gifting.
Spiritual Gifts Help Identify the Part Everybody Can Have in Helping the Homeless
Below you will find suggestions for how people with different spiritual gifts might engage in ministry with the homeless. This isn’t intended to be all-inclusive but rather to provide ideas of what part people could have based on gifting. (Click on the name of the spiritual gift for a definition.)
Administration: This person could organize the details, scheduling and staffing of local outreach efforts or organize trips groups within the church will take elsewhere to distribute blankets, food, or personal items or perhaps to help rebuild homes destroyed by natural disasters.
Discernment: This person could help the church beware of pitfalls in such a ministry. For example, this person would see that handing money to a homeless person could very well go toward drugs or alcohol rather than food or clothing. This person would tend to differentiate between those who are first time in their homelessness due to a recent crisis and those who are more repeat or long-term due to choices, addictions, etc. Unless accompanied by other gifting, this person might not know the best way to solve these problems but should be consulted about potential issues that could be faced.
Exhortation: This person could come alongside of people who are homeless to help empower them by counseling or discipling them in financial management and life skills, GED preparation, employment assistance, etc.
Evangelism: This person could be in the forefront of efforts to take the gospel to homeless people where they are — street meetings, distributing tracts and Bibles, not just food and other items.
Faith: This person could hold up hope that where there is God, change is possible. This person could persevere in prayer for healing and breakthroughs in individuals’ lives.
Giving: This person might set aside a portion of his/her own non-essential spending to donate food, clothes, personal items, or blankets to be distributed to those who don’t have these basics. Or, perhaps financial giving would go to a rescue mission or other organization reaching out to homeless people. This person might also encourage the church to examine their ministry budget for where funds could be reallocated.
Helps: This person could come alongside administrators or leaders to make phone calls, type up schedules or promotional pieces, order materials needed, or anything else that would free up the leaders to keep planning and dealing with the bigger picture.
Hospitality: This person might open their home to those on the verge of homelessness until they are able to get back on their feet … thus preventing homelessness.
Knowledge: This person could pull together Scripture on homelessness and poverty to be used by others to promote an awareness of our God-given responsibilities. This person could research and develop referral lists of public benefits, legal assistance, and other community programs and ministries.
Leadership: This person could help the church look beyond their own backyard to the homeless situation in other communities and around the world by developing goals and ideas to partner with others in working toward bigger picture solutions.
Mercy: This person would want to go on outreach efforts to rub shoulders with the homeless, to show the love of Christ to them, by distributing coats, blankets, shoes, food, and personal items they might need.
Pastor: This person might become a chaplain to the homeless or at least have regular, on-going contact with the same homeless people so as to disciple or mentor them … perhaps setting up a regular coffee or breakfast (or any meal) meeting at a restaurant or other public setting to invest into their lives.
Prophecy: This person might tend to remind us of the reasons for homelessness and the need to address the deeper issues, to look at the big picture.
Service: This person could help behind the scenes in any way needed, like stocking food shelves, preparing meals, sorting clothes, etc. This could be through the person’s own church’s outreach efforts or at a rescue mission.
Teaching: This person could be the one to bring an educational awareness of homelessness to the church, helping people understand the causes of homelessness and solutions for it, particularly in light of principles from God’s Word.
Wisdom: This person could be the one to offer practical solutions to the pitfalls the person with the gift of discernment sees. For example, this person might suggest giving gift certificates in lieu of money, taking the person to a restaurant or store and paying the bill, wearing a coat you would be willing to give away, carrying some food items with you to give away, etc.
When everybody does their part, we can take a more comprehensive approach to homeless ministry while addressing specific, immediate needs.