Homelessness is an issue a majority of American cities are facing. Those experiencing homelessness are prone to insecurity and isolation because of COVID-19. In this new normal, The PEACE Plan brought together a number of churches with experience in addressing homelessness for a conversation on best-practices. Here are a few learnings your church can use to get started:
1. Create a City-Centric Body of Christ
Part of the breakdown of why there is poverty is the lack of community. Most likely, there are church leaders across your area who are interested in serving the homeless, but nobody is mobilizing them to work together. The lack of coordination is hurting the cause. It doesn’t matter what denomination your fellow church leaders practice. A collective voice can accomplish more than a single effort.
Ways to find other church leaders to team up with:
- Look at nonprofits in your area. Call or email asking to join efforts.
- Talk to your friends. See if they have any connections to homeless charities.
- Talk to your congregation. Often your own congregation is seeking other opportunities to help those in need.
2. Create a Task Force
Once you’ve developed some cross-church relationships, gather your leaders, and create a task force. This task force will help identify what resources are needed to best help those facing housing insecurities. Coming together to coordinate wants and needs helps create a unified voice.
Working with other churches will not compromise your belief system – rather it’s a testament to the world of Christ’s love in action. Jesus said they would know his love by the ways we love one another. Remember, the vision is helping those experiencing homelessness. We see movements begin when the Body of Christ works together.
3. Get to Know Businesses
Homelessness often agitates business owners. Owners and managers are not happy with people camping out in front of their businesses, and they take their issues to city leadership. That makes them stakeholders in the conversation.
The church can play a lead role in the conversation because of the critical mass that we have in our congregations. Members of our centric Body of Christ can form relationships with local businesses so they are the first call made when somebody experiencing homelessness is hindering operations.
4. Talk to City Leadership
City leadership is aware of the homeless population. They do as much as they can within their boundaries. The best way to approach the city council about homelessness is with a unified plan. Your task force should represent a variety of churches in the area who are ready to make a difference.
Pitching to the city council is not something they teach you in seminary school, but you have to be prepared to do it. Speaking at city council meetings is a way for leadership to hear what problems are being faced and start thinking of solutions.
Eradicating homelessness and serving those affected by it allows us to pull the church together and say how we can better address this issue. No one church in any city is going to be the one to accomplish this. We’ve got to do it together. While the solutions you land on will look unique to your context, these steps will help you get started to creating first steps that involve key players, promote unity, and mobilize your members.
Learn more about the PEACE Plan model of church-centric outreach at thePEACEplan.com.