Faith Communities Today
New Fact Information
One in six Seventh-day Adventist churches in the United States (16%) sponsors or co-sponsors a homeless shelter as a service to the community. That figure may come as a surprise, considering how little attention these ministries get in denominational journals.
Most of these churches (10 of the 16 percentage points) co-sponsor a homeless shelter in cooperation with another agency or a coalition of churches. This includes churches that participate one or two weeks a year with an emergency shelter that moves from church to church only during the winter months. The homeless are fed by church volunteers, have access to the bathrooms in the church and sleep on the floor or on temporary cots trucked from church to church by the collaborative program.
Six percent (about 300 local churches) conduct a homeless shelter on their own. It requires a lot of hard work, and the church eventually has to fund at least one or two paid employees to assure that all of the necessary resources are gathered, security is maintained, volunteers recruited and trained in sufficient supply, etc. But it provides a tremendous impact on the community, way beyond traditional Adventist Community Services activities. Why union papers and other denominational journals seem to ignore these exceptional programs is beyond the scope of this research.
The number of homeless is increasing again in America, especially as the cost of real estate zooms up, and the number of homeless families and homeless mothers with children is growing at an even faster rate. There is still a need for this type of ministry just as surely as there is for the work of ADRA in Darfur, Indonesia or Kosovo.
Discussion Questions: 1. Has our congregation ever been involved in providing a homeless shelter for the community?
2. Is there a need for additional shelter space for the homeless in our community? Is there a specialized need for homeless families or homeless mothers with children?
3. Is there a coalition of churches or a Christian community service agency with which we might collaborate helping the homeless?
4. Shall we appoint someone or a working group to explore this area of need and report back on the opportunities involved?
Want more insights into Adventist congregations? Order your copy of the insightful Adventist Congregations Today book and CD-R set or learn more about Faith Communities Today (FACT )research.
Center for Creative Ministry
Creative Pastor e-Newsletter, June 14, 2006, Center for Creative Ministry