Addressing Homelessness in Bible Class

The last two Sunday’s we have had people from the homeless coalition come into our 20s & 30s class and talk about the problem of homelessness in our county. It has been really helpful to me and to many others in the class get our minds around the size of the problem and what we can do to help. There are ways to address this on the macro level and on the micro level.

On the macro level, homelessness is a problem in our county that needs to be addressed as a whole.One interesting point that was brought up was that we have more churches in our county than we do homeless people. What if churches took on a family or two and helped get them back on their feet? It is an interesting thought.The question was brought up on several occasions of whether we, as a nation, have the will to really take this problem on head on.

On the micro level, the most important point was that it all boiled down to seeing the homeless as valuable people. The most important thing we can give someone is not a handout but to form a relationship with them, recognize their worth, and care for them as people. This makes the whole task of taking on homelessness a bit more manageable because now it is not one small group trying to fix everything but each of us taking time out to foster relationships with the homeless we see on a regular basis (for those of us who are in environments where that is possible).

Last, one question that came up was how do you balance scriptures that talk about personal responsibility (2 Thess 3:10) with our responsibility to love everyone and be people of service. We don’t want to be enablers. We can take someone and house them, feed them, offer them jobs and social services and them still be not willing to help themselves. The answer that was offered was that it is important that we start with those who want to change their lives and who are willing to work. We put them to the test and see if they really can do it. We partner with those who want to change and are willing to do the hard work to make their lives better and try to help them pull themselves out of a difficult situation.

It was great to have an open and honest discussion about a problem that is very visible in our county and one that we talk about a lot and offer some helpful solutions to try to manage this problem and care for people as we know God wants us to.

Bible Class – Connecting with Community Resources

As our 20s & 30s Bible class continues to try new things and reach out to more people we decided we needed someone to come in and talk with our class about homelessness in our county. There are over 6000 homeless people in our county and growing. So there is definitely a need and a very visible one at that. I can’t tell you how many times we have discussed the problem of homelessness in our Bible class and we haven’t really had ready solutions or answers other than putting a band aid on the problem or throwing a few dollars at it. Either approach seems more focused on making ourselves feel better than actually fixing the problem or really doing something meaningful to help lift someone out of that situation.

We had the director of the coalition for the homeless in our county come and speak to our class. He brought with him a gentleman who used to be homeless, but lifted himself out, to share his story. It was powerful and helpful. It normalized it a bit for us and really put a face on the problem. We had a lot of questions left to ask about how we can make a difference that we weren’t able to get to so we are having them back for one more week to be able to ask them our questions and learn how to really address this issue. I hope to share some of that information next week.

It is important that we partner with relevant community resources so that we do things that are meaningful, effective, and so that we don’t spin our wheels. We want to make a difference. Often we have to evaluate things and talk with those who have more experience and expertise in these areas than we do. So we have taken one small step to partner with community resources to expand our efforts to impact homelessness in this county.

Has your church ever partnered with non-church agencies or organizations to make an impact on your community?

How was it done and what was the result?

More next week on practical things we can do to address this issue.