Everybody Can Have a Part in Helping the Homeless

Everybody Has a Part Even in Ministry with the HomelessSometimes 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.

Connected for a Purpose

Connected to One Another for a Purpose

The first part of Ephesians 4:16 shows us how God designed the Body, His Church, to be connected to one another.

But, for what purpose?

The second part of the verse answers that question. — It’s God’s blueprint for the growth of the Body.

Exposition of Ephesians 4:16b shows the Purpose for which We’re Connected to One another

“grows and builds itself up in love”

In the Body of Christ every connection adds into the whole Body. When we work together, with each part doing its work, the Body functions most efficiently, causing it to become all it can be. And, when we are who we should be, we see growth. Look at the example of the early church in Acts 2:42-47. As they lined up with God’s design, “the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” That’s real church growth. We’re not talking about increase through transplants of people leaving one church to become part of another group.

But, it isn’t all about growing numerically. The Body “builds itself up” — an edification and equipping process done “in love” but also resulting in greater love. Hence, when the Church follows God’s design, we learn to love more. We live out His purpose for us to love Him and others, the Greatest Commandments according to Jesus (Matt. 22:37-40).

“as each part does its work.”

The word “as” denotes the measuring rod to which we will see this kind of growth and edification in the Body. Growth will be in proportion to “as each part does its work.”

“Each” of us holds a vital part in this process … each a part of the whole.

The Greek word for “work” – energia – used in the New Testament in conjunction with superhuman power is significant. What separates the church from other growing organizations is the power source. The true church isn’t a man-made institution but rather a living organism infused with the “energia” of an Almighty God.

What each “part” or member of the Body has to offer to the whole would be tied into spiritual gifts as seen in the context of this verse. Spiritual gifts can be defined as “special divine empowerments.” Given by the Holy Spirit, they enable believers to do their part supernaturally so that the body “grows and builds itself up in love.”

Also Read:

Connected to One Another

Connected to One Another in the Body of ChristGod provides the blueprint for Church growth in Ephesians 4:16.

The first part of the verse establishes our connection to one another which will be the topic of this post.

The second part of the verse shows the purpose or outcome of following God’s design — the topic of the next post.

Exposition of Ephesians 4:16a on How We are Connected to One Another

“From Him”

“From” is a primary preposition signifying origin, the point from which something happens or proceeds.

We find the identity of “Him” within the context. Verse 15 references Christ as the Head of the Body.

As the Head, He is the control center of the Body. He has both the authority to make the decisions and power to make it happen. (Eph. 1:19-23)

As the Head, He has first place. He is preeminent. It’s all about Him. (Col. 1:17-18)

Jesus, then, as the source, is qualified to bring the effect yet to be described later in this verse.

“the whole Body”

1 Corinthians 12 likens the church to the human body … a collective whole, yet made up of many individual parts. By using the adjective “whole” we must thus conclude that this verse pertains to every member, any and every one in the Body.

Without exception, then, what is yet to be described in this verse affects and is relevant to every believer.

“joined and held together”

Being “joined” together is more of a building concept, similar to framing a structure together. Ephesians 2:11-22 describes the institution of the church as “being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” When we are in Christ, we are no longer isolated entities. We belong to something bigger than ourselves. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body … and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Cor. 12:12-13). Our identity shifts from “me” to “we” as we are one in Him, “fitly framed” together as translated in the ASV.

Being “held together” suggests that this joining together is meant to last. We are “knit together” (ASV) signifying such an intertwining that what affects one, affects the others (1 Cor. 12:24-26).

“by every supporting ligament”

The word “by” lets us know that we are going to be given the means through which we are joined and held together.

“Every” is the same Greek word used earlier translated “whole.” So, again, we must conclude that this affects any and every member of the Body.

The NIV use of “supporting ligament” fails to adequately communicate its meaning. Most other translations help us better understand by wording it as that which every joint supplies. These are connection points, the junction at which the parts are fastened or bonded together … the points where we connect one to the other.

Though every part doesn’t connect to all parts, by virtue of the point at which it does, it now belongs to the whole. Using the analogy of the human body, we would acknowledge that the arm is not directly connected to the leg. Yet, they are members of the same body. Where one goes, the other goes.

Certainly we must conclude that in Christ we are connected to one another, but for what purpose? — The topic of the next post.

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Thoroughly Equipped for What?

Scripture Thoroughly Equips for Every Good Work
(Click image to get enlarged version to repin in Pinterest)

2 Timothy 3:16-17 teaches about:

Now we get to the final phrase which shows the purpose for which Scripture thoroughly equips us — “for every good work”.

Scripture is Enough to Equip Us for Every Good Work

Scripture contains all we need to equip us for whatever good work we might do. While we can learn from psychology and science, we must always run it through the grid of Scripture. But, if we only had the Bible, it would be enough. — “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” (2 Pet. 1:3) — Scripture provides knowledge about God. — “Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Pet. 1:4)

This is why the Train Church Leaders Practicum runs various tasks leaders do through the grid of God’s Word in regard to His purposes, design and mission for the Church, Christ-like character, power, etc. People from around the world can be equipped through this training since it seeks to be scripturally rather than culturally based.

The Kind of Work for Which Scripture Thoroughly Equips

The adjectives used in 2 Timothy 3:17 describe the kind of work Scripture equips us to do.

1) Good Work

What constitutes something good?

  • It’s fruitful effect: beneficial, useful
  • It’s excellent quality: meets a standard
  • It’s upright character: done with integrity, pleasing to God

God uses His Word to teach us what fits the above criteria. Any work we do which is purely selfish or carnal, will not be that which benefits others or pleases God. Don’t expect God to provide wisdom or strength for that which does not align with Him. Scripture equips us for “good” work.

2) Every Good Work

No task falls outside of the scope of “every” good work. Scripture equips us for each and every individual good work we do of all types of good deeds. That means God will equip us, through His Word, for ministry that is …

  • behind-the-scenes or upfront
  • task-oriented or people-oriented
  • a big ministry assignment or a seemingly small one
  • full-time, part-time, or volunteer

The Ultimate Purpose in Being Thoroughly Equipped for Every Good Work

If we look at the whole of Scripture, we find the ultimate effect of Christians doing good. The more thoroughly equipped, the more we will bear fruit to the glory of God.

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. (Matt. 5:6)

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, (Col. 1:9-10)

When we are thoroughly equipped for every good work, we grow in our relationship with God, others are helped, and most importantly, God is glorified.

Who Needs to be Thoroughly Equipped?

Scripture Thoroughly Equips All Servants of God
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God uses His Word to thoroughly equip but who needs that kind of equipping? Certainly we would say pastors, missionaries, and others in full-time ministry. And, we might add Bible teachers and ministry leaders to the list.

If we look at 2 Timothy 3:16-17, however, we find that those God intends to thoroughly equip aren’t just people in certain positions or types of ministry but rather, all of His people.

All God’s People Need to be Thoroughly Equipped

Depending on the Bible version we use, we might read that either the “man of God” or “servant of God” be equipped. The Greek word anthropos used in this verse does mean “man” but generally refers more to mankind or human beings, whether male or female. The verse does not use the typical word for servant. The “of God” phrase, however, narrows down the target to those who belong to God so, by implication, “servant of God” would be accurate.

God does use His Word to bring unbelievers to Himself as seen in the verse just prior that refers to “the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). Elsewhere we read, “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Rom. 10:17).

The full benefit of God’s Word, however, comes after salvation in the lives of those now in Him — people “of God” (2 Tim.3:17). Why? We have the Spirit within us who is able to take what is God’s and make it known to us.

What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us. This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. (1 Cor. 2:12-14)

Because of God’s Spirit within us, we are able to understand God’s Word and use it as the grid through which we make decisions. God and His Word become the standard against which we line up whatever we do. Consequently the Holy Spirit within us makes it possible for God’s Word to thoroughly equip us. No matter our gender, ministry position, age, background, or any other factor, if we belong to God, He not only intends for us to be thoroughly equipped but has also provided the means.

But, for what purpose does He want us to be thoroughly equipped? That’s the topic for the next post.

How are we Thoroughly Equipped?

Scripture is Means to be Thoroughly EquippedWe’ve established in the previous post that God intends for us to be thoroughly equipped for the ministry He gives us to do.

As we’ll also see in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, God provides the means for such equipping through His Word.

(Click on image to go to Pinterest for an enlarged version and repin.)

The Comprehensive Nature of Scripture Means We can be Thoroughly Equipped

Notice that “ALL Scripture is … useful” according to 2 Timothy 3:16-17. If we handpick what parts of the Bible we want to believe or apply to life, we may not find ourselves thoroughly equipped. Even the genealogies and detailed measurements can have a place in equipping us.

Perhaps before we can appreciate the details, we need a big picture perspective of Scripture and particularly of the God of the Bible. Understanding the fullness of the character and ways of God can make such a difference. Although written with Bible teachers in mind, the following posts on the TrainBibleTeachers.com blog may increase the value we place on gaining the bigger picture.

Suggestion: Come up with a plan to read through and study all of Scripture, not just the easy to understand or more palatable parts.

The Authoritative Basis of God’s Word for Equipping

The reason all Scripture is useful is because “all Scripture is God-breathed” and thereby not only has a purpose for being included but also the authority and power to make a difference. If we don’t believe this, we will have more of a tendency to pick and choose what we want to believe and apply. As a result, we will very likely not find ourselves thoroughly equipped. For more about this point, read the following:

Suggestion: If you doubt the veracity of Scripture, or tend to pick and choose, take time to get to know the God of the Bible better. If He truly is the God of whom there is none greater, then He has absolute authority.

The Targeted Means through Which the Bible Equips

We are at different places. What one person needs to be ready for service may differ from the next person. Some may need to learn something new. Others may need to become aware of something they’re doing wrong. Or, it might be simply tweaking or improving what we’re doing. Perhaps some need to be taken to the next step in their walk and service. Whatever the need, God’s Word is what will teach, rebuke, correct, and train us. Thorough equipping cannot be a “one size fits all” or “cookie cutter” approach.

Suggestion: Examine your approach to God and His Word. Are you hearing from Him or merely copying and comparing yourself to what others are doing?

The Depth or Extent to Which Scripture Equips

Notice how God uses His Word to train us “in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). This is a very important point as God cares about the process, not just the end result. If God didn’t address the heart, our equipping wouldn’t be thorough. He wants to transform our hearts not merely our behavior. Motivation matters. Character matters. Integrity in serving matters. Thorough equipping happens from the inside out. — For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb. 4:12)

Suggestion: Ask God to search your heart and thoughts to see what needs to change and to equip you accordingly (Ps. 139:23-24).