How Should I Preach To The Homeless

(Rob Wren) #1

I was just given the opportunity to preach at a homeless ministry. The ministry is part of my churches outreach program. I’ll be preaching to between 50 and 75 people. I am not a pastor yet. I receive my bachelors degree in Theology next year. My question is what type of message should I preach to the homeless? Should it make a difference that the audience is homeless?
I have just began to prayer about this, but would love your feedback.

(Dave Kenny) #2

hi @robwren73,

What a privilege. How long do you have before you need to preach? I do not have the experience necessary to offer anything other than an opinion… (I would be as perplexed as you are)

What are your initial thoughts?

I hope someone in the community has direct pastoral experience with this and can offer you their wisdom in time for your message!


(Carson Weitnauer) #3

Hi @robwren73,

With respect, I’ve moved your post to the #daily-evangelism Category that other members might feel the freedom to share their insights and wisdom with you. The #ask-rzim Category is dedicated to asking questions of our speaking team on the weeks they have made themselves available.

However! Rachel Davis, Operations Manager and Senior Project Analyst for Wellspring International, will be taking our questions in RZIM Connect next week! I’ll put the post up announcing this later this week. Please do ask her your question, as I think she would have keen insight on what you are asking about.

(Rob Wren) #4

Thanks so much. I’m new to the group. That makes complete sense. Thanks for doing what you do!

(Rob Wren) #5

Hello Dave,
I looks like I have around 45 days. My initial thoughts are simply the gospels. I have evangelized to several homeless people on the streets over the years. Of course that was on the street, an intimate setting, not from the pulpit. I have asked a few people, and they’re giving it some thought as well. When I saw RZIM had a connect group, I knew this is the perfect place to post my question. Again, I am still praying.

(Rob Wren) #6

Hello Dave,
I’m still learning this format. I responded to your post below. Thanks for replying!!
If you’re unable to see it, please let me know. Thanks again!

(Melvin Greene) #7

I’ve been working with the homeless for close to 7 years, and I’m still learning! One of the most important things to remember is that you need to be real. Most homeless people can spot a phony very quickly. They have had to survive by reading people, so just be yourself. I was very intimidated the first time I had to preach in chapel. I guess I should explain that I was working as assistant manager for 3 years at a gospel preaching rescue mission. Chapel was held twice a day. Anyway, I was thinking that I didn’t know how to talk to these guys, (it was an all male facility). I’ve never been homeless. I had no idea what they have gone through. But, none of that matters. God will use you. He will give you the words to speak, and you may even think that you messed up, or sounded dumb. But, I’m here to tell you that the Holy Spirit can take your words and drive them into someone’s heart, no matter how bad you think you did. I’ve found that most of them like to hear your testimony. They want to know how Jesus changed your life. They are looking for something real, and they want to know that Jesus is real to you. It doesn’t matter if you think your testimony doesn’t sound exciting. They just want to know whether Jesus is real, and that you believe what your saying to them. One more important thing is that you need to be humble. I’ve been in a chapel service where the speaker sounded like he was talking down to them, or sounding condescending. I could see the men just shutting down and not listening. I always keep in mind that I’m just a beggar telling other beggars where to find bread. The message should always contain the way to salvation, and an invitation to receive Jesus as their savior. Keep in mind that you’ll probably have a mixture of people who know absolutely nothing about Jesus and the Bible, and those who know the Bible better than you. And of course, pray continuously!

(Rob Wren) #8

Thank you so much! I love your quote I posted above. It’s so true. My biggest fear is trying to come off like I’m better then them. I do have a great testimony which will help. I’ve never been homeless, so I cannot tell them that I understand how they feel. Melvin, I do have a question. Do I even mention them being homeless? Do I bring up hope, or just stick to preaching the gospel and have the Holy Spirit help me lead people to Christ? Thanks so much for your post! I really appreciate it.

(Melvin Greene) #9

You’re very welcome, @robwren73. Just so you know, I heard that quote years ago, but I can’t remember who said it. Someone wiser than I, most definitely.

As far as mentioning that they’re homeless, I would have to say that if it some how fits in your message, then I think it would be fine. It’s funny. It’s sort of like the proverbial 800 lb. gorilla in the room. You’re in a homeless shelter sharing the gospel message with people who will spend the night there because they have nowhere else to go. I remember one time when I got up to preach and the first thing I said was, “It’s great to see you all here tonight.” “Uh, well…I mean as opposed to being out on the street.” That was awkward! They didn’t take offense. Actually, I think they rather enjoyed my discomfort. :roll_eyes:

Hope is a good thing. That’s definitely something that Jesus offers. Just don’t lead them to believe that if they accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior, all their troubles will fade away. Too many times I’ve heard well meaning people say that. I emphasize that Jesus through the Holy Spirit will give them strength, and a peace that passes all understanding as they face their trials and hardships.

I’ve found that they respond well to stories, or allegories; something that brings the gospel truth into their reality. I was told by someone older, and wiser than I that we are to be like Jesus, and he spoke the gospel in parables. We should try to do the same. And of course, if the Holy Spirit isn’t in it, all the clever stories and sayings won’t make a difference.

I don’t want to ramble on, but a couple of things came to mind that I’ll just throw out there. Not all homeless people are addicted to drugs or alcohol, but a lot are. And a lot of them are trying to self-medicate a lot of emotional pain and traumatic things in their past. I’m always reminded of that passage of scripture that says, “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench until he brings justice to victory.” Mat. 12:20. They need to know that there is a God who knows their pain, and who loves them so much that he thought them worth dying for.

Rob, I think you’ll be surprised at how God will use you to reach these hurting people. God bless you, brother!

(Rob Wren) #10

Thanks @Melvin_Greene for all of the advice. I’m very grateful, you have been very helpful, and I really appreciate it! I’m going to work on an outline right away. Thanks again! Rob

(Ben Thompson) #11

Realise this is an old post now but I’ll be doing pretty much the same thing for the very first time tomorrow, I have a 5 minute slot with around 20-30 guys before a sit-down meal in which to share something. This recently has become a weekly activity/ministry which has grown over the last year. We now have 20-30 roughsleepers (mixed genders) coming into our local church for a meal. This has been going on for some time and having built some relationships, we now feel it right to carve out some time before the meal to share a testimony, specific scriptures, present the Gospel and hopefully open up a discussion with ‘Big questions’. Any tips, advice or stories of what’s worked and what hasn’t would be really greatly appreciated! So encouraged by @Melvin_Greene 's advice and hoping I can continue to learn some basics as well as some specifics. Hope it went well @robwren73.