As leaders, it is vital that we initiate ministry to this culture of often-forgotten people.
On any given night in the United States, between to a local shelter. 700,000 to 2 million people are homeless. In some cities, the homeless population seems so ubiquitous that it can become easy to overlook them. As Christians, we are called to care for the poor. As leaders, it is vital that we initiate ministry to this culture of often-forgotten people, and help our group practice compassion.
Read the biblical mandates to care for the poor. The Bible is full of commands to care for the less fortunate. Consider putting together a message series on serving the poor. Some key passages to include would be Exodus 23:10–12, Isaiah 58:6–1 and Luke 14:12–14. As you teach about care for the poor, you can build a passion in your group to take practical action on behalf of the impoverished.
Set up a feeding program. Make sure you check local laws to affirm that group feedings are legal, and if so, what areas of town you can hold them in. A group feeding program can be a great way to not only build relationships with the homeless community, but to increase a sense of community in your group. Cook the meals together, and transport them to a predetermined site. Make sure you have plenty of plastic utensils, paper plates and napkins available. After everyone has received food, encourage your group to go out in
groups of two or three and begin to build relationships with the homeless. Strong bonds will form as your group comes back week after week, and starts to gain the trust of the community.
Organize a night of solidarity with the homeless. Consider having your group camp out in a public area, and perhaps even informing local media outlets of the endeavor. You could have your group make shelters out of boxes, but make sure that the focus remains on the plight of the homeless, not on making elaborate domiciles. Another possibility is having members of your group seek sponsorships for every hour they sleep outdoors, then donate the money.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website contains facts as well
as links for federal aid for the homeless and agencies reaching out to the homeless.
The National Coalition for the Homeless works to meet immediate needs, as well as to
address systemic causes of homelessness.
Shelter Partnerships is a group committed to providing transitional, short-term and
permanent housing for the homeless.