Preaching at a Homeless Shelter

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Puritan Board Sophomore
I have been down to a "feeding the homeless" ministry on several occassions where they have a quasi-Church service, followed by distributing food/feeding them.

The times I have been, the "preaching" has been unbearable! I mean really, really bad. So much so, that I can hardly bear to sit through another "sermon" again. Picture this: these poor, destitute, ragged men and women are strung out all over these chairs through-out the audience, just trying to get a brief respite from the harshness of the world; and this guy gets up there and tells them that they:
1) Need to be "in the Word" daily (they don't even have Bibles)
2) Need to pray
3) Need to witness/share their faith (they're not even Christians)
And this all in a completely disorganized, Gospel-less manner.

I contacted my church (where numerous seminary students attend) to see if they could possibly supply some "talent" for these Saturday afternoon sessions. I'm still waiting to hear back.

In the meantime, I have been asked to preach/teach by one of the guys whose responsibility it is to fill the lecturn that day. I am definitely not going to do it; foremost because I'm unprepared.

But if I was prepared, would it be better for me NOT to do it, and allow these poor people to be tortured with suffering through such bad preaching/teaching; or to choose the lesser of two evils and at least give them the Gospel?


PLEASE do it and give them a simple exposition of Christ's imputed righteousness and his sacrifice - it will probably be the first time many have heard it. Keep in mind that they probably aren't entirely in their right minds, due to being high, coming down from same, or just lack of sleep and poor nutrition, so no big theological words like we like here.


Puritan Board Doctor
Agreed with Meg. However, Steve does street ministry with the homeless (thus the handle "street preacher". He gets home in a little bit, I'll tell him of this thread and I'm sure he'll have some advice for you. With all our little ones, he usually goes sometimes with our older two, but I tend to have my hands full with the others at home...thus, I really don't have the experience to advise.


Puritan Board Junior
Hey, Chris...

You do it! Why not simply READ through one of the Gospels? Or perhaps Psalm 139? (Remember, Christ expounded Himself via the Psalms as in Luke 24?)

Just read/proclaim the Gospel as it is in the Word -- the information about Christ. Make no appeals...let it simply BE.

Remember, read big portions of Text (in order) - from beginning to end, if you can. Another idea would be the whole of Acts 17 might be great - since it's addressed to pagans (assuming a lack of Jewish background.) For that matter, takes about an hour to get through it.

There is something quite powerful and different about hearing the Scriptures proclaimed.

What an exciting opportunity!


Robin :book2:


Puritan Board Senior
I agree. But would also add: Don't focus on eloquence.

I presented a simple, easy to understand, gospel "sermon" at a homeless shelter a few years back. Say what you know from the scriptures you're most familiar with. Since this isn't a "sermon", per se, don't get bogged down like pastor/teachers do. Repentance and faith in Christ should be the focus. Then serve them afterward. I had a number of people approach me afterward...they were surprised I had no theological training and wasn't a pastor: These were the people serving in the shelters. Many probably heard the clearest presentation of the gospel ever that day.So remember, those serving in the shelters may also be starving too: not just the homeless will hear the gospel!

Sharing the truth with clarity, and simplicity will be welcomed there I imagine. It's a shame that no one preparing for the preaching ministry will stand up and those not called do, and generally fail horribly.

[Edited on 7-14-2005 by Craig]


Puritan Board Sophomore
Chris, I have preached and given testimony a number of times at a downtown Baltimore shelter. I dress like I always dress (informally, which looks a lot like many of the men dress). Consider accepting their invitation, pray and prepare a simple, straightforward Gospel message.

Show them in your person the love of Christ. Each time God has led people to approach me after the "service" for one on one ministry. They had a "hymn of invitation" where I was.

Also, I would recommend going with at least one other person. It can be dangerous. Drugs, alcohol, etc. Ask the Lord to protect your ministry team physically.

Chris, may the Lord Jesus continue to richly lead you in your Christian experience.

"In Christ",
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