Homelessness continues to have a stigma around it despite the fact that many Americans are living on its edge every day. The cause of homelessness is often misunderstood and therefore difficult to prevent. Those living on the edge can be tossed over by a family medical emergency, automobile repair, a loss of employment or divorce.

A common thread with our homeless friends is the absence of relationships. Homelessness must be fought with love — deep, authentic relationships. Churches must wade into the complicated pool and grab onto those who are struggling, not simply throw money, clothes, toys and other stuff at them. Churches should look to partner with nonprofits that in addition to hot meals and a place to stay also offer opportunities for growth, such as job placement programs, GED certification, computer training, Bible studies and life skills courses. Volunteer opportunities are plentiful, and relationships make the difference. This is incredibly difficult and demanding, but it is what we are called to do.

This article originally appeared in the NAE Insight.

Debra Potter
Debra Potter is director of community outreach at Perimeter Church in Johns Creek, Georgia. Before coming to Perimeter Church in 2005, she served as an event coordinator with Avon. Potter is a graduate of The University of Georgia and Georgia College and State University, focusing her studies in psychology.