The Church, a home and community to the homeless
We are a faith based organisation. We see the church as playing a vital role in being a home and a community for the poor, the broken and the lost.
We started this blog series off by looking at the characteristics of a home in terms of safety, security. It is a place where basic needs are met. And it is also a place for family, belonging, acceptance, forgiveness and lack of judgement. These are all things that we are meant to find within the context of our homes but we don’t always and then where do we turn. A recent thread on mumsnet centred around the place of the church in providing community. People were remarking that whether they believed in the faith aspect or not, they could find community and a sense of belonging and acceptance in churches. The church is place where the physically, emotionally and spiritually homeless can find a home and a community.
This is illustrated by the picture above which is a picture from the All Nations church plant in Telford where on the wall is painted in bold: “Welcome Home”. As a church they are seeking to provide a place where people can find the things that they associate with home. As such church is intended to be a community. Within it, anyone and everyone can find physical and emotional healing, friendship, family, acceptance and belonging.
Central concepts to Christian beliefs
Forgiveness is central to Christian beliefs: because they have received forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Christ, they are prepared to forgive others. Many of us whether we believe or not will be familiar with the so-called Lord’s prayer in which we read “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who against us”. It is impossible to build community and be a family without forgiveness. We all do things that we have to say sorry for. If we are not prepared to forgive one another then offence turns to bitterness and anger. Eventually this leads to disunity, splits and people going their own separate ways.
The absence of judgement is another central concept. In the Christian faith only Christ can pronounce judgement since he lived a perfect life. The rest of us who have all done things that we are not proud of and could be said to be “wrong”, have no right to judge. In the story of a woman caught in adultery by the religious leaders of her time, Jesus says “He who is without sin should throw the first stone”. Of course before long no-one was left in that place but Jesus and the woman because they all knew that this disqualified them. In a church which is adhering to biblical principles no-one will be judged
Countering the cult of self
Christians are also passionate about issues of social justice, tackling poverty, feeding the hungry and serving the local community. In the Early Christian Church in the first century AD such was the spirit of community that they had everything in common. Those who had property and material possessions sold them, so that the community could provide for those most in need among them. In fact, in those days there were no needy persons in the Christian community because they looked after everyone in need.
Whether you have faith or not, there is much to be learnt from the church about how to build community and be family to one another. And these are both important aspects of tackling social exclusion including homelessness and extreme poverty. Of course these same considerations can be lived out outside of the context of church. They are however much harder to live by in the absence of the strength and grace that faith brings.
Is the church
perfect? No of course not. It is a group made up of imperfect people in an
imperfect world. We live in a society where individualism, human rights,
self-determination and “I” are prized and valued more than anything. The church
is seeking to be counter cultural by bringing a sense of family and community
to offer people a place that they can call home.