Guestroom For Jesus

homeless In most cities in the USA, especially in our current economic climate, there are more abandoned housing units then there are homeless. In other words: there is enough housing for everyone. Of course, the red tape and economic structures of our society prevents this solution from becoming a reality. However, I’d like to offer an alternative solution.
By even conservative statistics, there are many more empty “guest bedrooms” in people’s homes then there are homeless out on the streets in every city. Specifically, I’d bet there are enough empty rooms in “Christians” homes, whose very faith calls them to care for those in need, to end homelessness in the USA tomorrow if we wanted to. As an example, there are 3000 homeless in Hennepin County, which has a population of over one million. Assuming an average household of five people, that’s 200,000 homes of which at least 1-2% more then likely have an extra bedroom. Even with this reality, we have plenty of excuses as to why my correlation (Christians with Empty Guest Bedrooms : Homeless Ratio) simply is not appropriate or feasible.

“Many homeless have mental conditions, that would make it unsafe for my family.”
“Most homeless have drug and alcohol problems which would put my families lives in danger.”
“And God calls us to protect our family and be wise” [sidenote: Can someone please show me where in the Bible it say that to “protect” our family is a top priority?]

Lame Excuses!
We have within our means the ability to radically live out the Christian calling of caring for the needy and practicing hospitality, and we are content to cop out with some lame excuse.
Here’s why it’s lame. Keeping your family (and the people on the street) safe is a wonderful thing, really it is. Mental conditions should be treated, drug and alcohol problems should be controlled, nobody should be hurting or threatening anybody; but what does that have to do with opening your home to someone else?

Sure, you are to be validated in your concerns. But, now it’s time to problem solve and find a solution for bringing together your desire for the well-being of all, and your calling to radically follow Christ.
If people (including many Christians) can spend thousands of dollars solving the problems of remodeling their outdated bathroom, or upgrading to a state of the art kitchen, then I think we can also put our minds and money to creating homes that can accommodate those who need a place to stay.

Maybe you put an outside door on the guest room and a regular locked door into the house. Or you remodel the office or the space above the garage to have not only a bedroom but a bathroom and a small kitchenette.  Use your imagination, you could go more elaborate or more practical, but look to solve problems rather then make excuses.

Maybe for some it means downsizing their home till it accommodates the basic needs for their immediate family and they then use the freed up additional wealth and resources to contribute to a community that is meeting the needs of the homeless.

Stop making lame excuses that justify your apathy to following Christ call. Instead have some fun and remodel your house (and in doing so open yourself to following Christ in ways you’ve never considered before)!

49 thoughts on “Guestroom For Jesus”

  1. Ariah – great comments, all. I know that we have a program in our church that we call "Radical hospitality," and to practice it we meet people in the parking lot when they arrive on Sunday morning and we are sure to smile and shake hands and ensure that they know where the nursery is and that we have free coffee in the Fellowship Hall. Personally, I love all of those things about church, but I think that we don't get to call it "radical" when it that is what we are supposed to be doing every morning in our neighborhood, and it is somehow a struggle to implement it as a program in our church. If we insist on using words like extreme and radical to refer to the things that are supposed to be hard wired into our faith walk, then what do we call it when we choose to open up our homes, or move into a community living situation, or actually go and get someone and physically bring them to church, to lunch, to our living room, to the free meal programs all around town? Soon we will have to have "Hyper-drive hospitality extravaganzas" where we actually give money away and provide hugs and prayers with people outside of our comfort zone. I can hear your frustration in this article, and it is justified and well articulated. Keep up the good work, brother.

    Grace and Peace.

  2. Peter, Great question!
    And in an effort toward full disclosure I'll try and give a complete, but brief, answer.

    We are currently doing what I mentioned in the latter part of the article, not downsizing, but living in a smaller home (enough bedrooms for all, no spares), to free up income to give to others. We own a duplex, and currently rent out the other half to help cover the mortgage.
    However, for about four months last year, before we rented it, we did have someone stay in the lower unit until they could find a place to live. And, as I've mentioned before, we frequently try and share our space (we spent from 2005 to most of 2008 sharing our living space).

    I hope that answers your question. I'm still trying to figure out how these convictions and what I see as clear callings of our faith play out in my daily life.

  3. Peter, Great question!
    And in an effort toward full disclosure I'll try and give a complete, but brief, answer.

    We are currently doing what I mentioned in the latter part of the article, not downsizing, but living in a smaller home (enough bedrooms for all, no spares), to free up income to give to others. We own a duplex, and currently rent out the other half to help cover the mortgage.
    However, for about four months last year, before we rented it, we did have someone stay in the lower unit until they could find a place to live. And, as I've mentioned before, we frequently try and share our space (we spent from 2005 to most of 2008 sharing our living space).

    I hope that answers your question. I'm still trying to figure out how these convictions and what I see as clear callings of our faith play out in my daily life.

  4. I don't know man, "Hyper-drive hospitality extravaganzas" have a nice ring to them. Think we could copyright that and start a nation wide franchise?

    Seriously though, thanks for always encouraging and continually challenging. 😉

  5. Boy, it's uncomfortable when someone asks you to live radically . . . but I love it! Keep up with the challenging postings.

    Hey – could you add an "email to friend" button to the bottom of your articles?

  6. I've reposted your piece here: http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/2009/04/guestroom_for_jesu...

    By the way…for those who are thinking "I'd do this, but I don't know where to find people who need a place to stay…and don't want to simply pick-up some guy off the street," I have an option for you.

    In Minnesota, there is a group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign that is working with victims of foreclosure and eviction (among other things). Part of their organization, the "Underground Railroad Project" is trying to find short term houses of hospitality for folks who have become recently homeless. They are looking for homes that can offer space for at least one night a month. If you'd like to help out, send an email to undergroundrailroadproject@gmail.com with the following info:

    * What kind of space can you offer (bedroom, couch, floor)?
    * Can you help with transportation?
    * Your contact info
    * Do you have a gender preference of who stays in your home?
    * Is your home child friendly?
    * Can you offer food?
    * Are you willing to offer space for more than one night a month?

    To me, this is a no-brainer. It is a great first step…

  7. I've reposted your piece here: http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/2009/04/guestroom_for_jesu...

    By the way…for those who are thinking "I'd do this, but I don't know where to find people who need a place to stay…and don't want to simply pick-up some guy off the street," I have an option for you.

    In Minnesota, there is a group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign that is working with victims of foreclosure and eviction (among other things). Part of their organization, the "Underground Railroad Project" is trying to find short term houses of hospitality for folks who have become recently homeless. They are looking for homes that can offer space for at least one night a month. If you'd like to help out, send an email to undergroundrailroadproject@gmail.com with the following info:

    * What kind of space can you offer (bedroom, couch, floor)?
    * Can you help with transportation?
    * Your contact info
    * Do you have a gender preference of who stays in your home?
    * Is your home child friendly?
    * Can you offer food?
    * Are you willing to offer space for more than one night a month?

    To me, this is a no-brainer. It is a great first step…

  8. I've reposted your piece here: http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/2009/04/guestroom_for_jesu...

    By the way…for those who are thinking "I'd do this, but I don't know where to find people who need a place to stay…and don't want to simply pick-up some guy off the street," I have an option for you.

    In Minnesota, there is a group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign that is working with victims of foreclosure and eviction (among other things). Part of their organization, the "Underground Railroad Project" is trying to find short term houses of hospitality for folks who have become recently homeless. They are looking for homes that can offer space for at least one night a month. If you'd like to help out, send an email to undergroundrailroadproject@gmail.com with the following info:

    * What kind of space can you offer (bedroom, couch, floor)?
    * Can you help with transportation?
    * Your contact info
    * Do you have a gender preference of who stays in your home?
    * Is your home child friendly?
    * Can you offer food?
    * Are you willing to offer space for more than one night a month?

    To me, this is a no-brainer. It is a great first step…

  9. I've reposted your piece here: http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/2009/04/guestroom_for_jesu...

    By the way…for those who are thinking "I'd do this, but I don't know where to find people who need a place to stay…and don't want to simply pick-up some guy off the street," I have an option for you.

    In Minnesota, there is a group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign that is working with victims of foreclosure and eviction (among other things). Part of their organization, the "Underground Railroad Project" is trying to find short term houses of hospitality for folks who have become recently homeless. They are looking for homes that can offer space for at least one night a month. If you'd like to help out, send an email to undergroundrailroadproject@gmail.com with the following info:

    * What kind of space can you offer (bedroom, couch, floor)?
    * Can you help with transportation?
    * Your contact info
    * Do you have a gender preference of who stays in your home?
    * Is your home child friendly?
    * Can you offer food?
    * Are you willing to offer space for more than one night a month?

    To me, this is a no-brainer. It is a great first step…

  10. I've reposted your piece here: http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/2009/04/guestroom_for_jesu...

    By the way…for those who are thinking "I'd do this, but I don't know where to find people who need a place to stay…and don't want to simply pick-up some guy off the street," I have an option for you.

    In Minnesota, there is a group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign that is working with victims of foreclosure and eviction (among other things). Part of their organization, the "Underground Railroad Project" is trying to find short term houses of hospitality for folks who have become recently homeless. They are looking for homes that can offer space for at least one night a month. If you'd like to help out, send an email to undergroundrailroadproject@gmail.com with the following info:

    * What kind of space can you offer (bedroom, couch, floor)?
    * Can you help with transportation?
    * Your contact info
    * Do you have a gender preference of who stays in your home?
    * Is your home child friendly?
    * Can you offer food?
    * Are you willing to offer space for more than one night a month?

    To me, this is a no-brainer. It is a great first step…

  11. I've reposted your piece here: http://www.jesusmanifesto.com/2009/04/guestroom_for_jesu...

    By the way…for those who are thinking "I'd do this, but I don't know where to find people who need a place to stay…and don't want to simply pick-up some guy off the street," I have an option for you.

    In Minnesota, there is a group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign that is working with victims of foreclosure and eviction (among other things). Part of their organization, the "Underground Railroad Project" is trying to find short term houses of hospitality for folks who have become recently homeless. They are looking for homes that can offer space for at least one night a month. If you'd like to help out, send an email to undergroundrailroadproject@gmail.com with the following info:

    * What kind of space can you offer (bedroom, couch, floor)?
    * Can you help with transportation?
    * Your contact info
    * Do you have a gender preference of who stays in your home?
    * Is your home child friendly?
    * Can you offer food?
    * Are you willing to offer space for more than one night a month?

    To me, this is a no-brainer. It is a great first step…

  12. Thanks for the encouragement 😉
    As to the email a friend, I'd be happy to look at adding it again. I used to have that option, but it was so rarely used I took it off.
    Have you considered subscribing to the daily email?

    Peace.

  13. in nashville at any given moment there are 2000 homeless people.
    there are also 2000 churches.
    churches sit empty all week.

    bleh.

  14. Coming via Jesus Manifesto

    Fantastic idea. It's great that you've done this before and are planning on doing it more in the future. That's awesome. I don't think I'll have the option of implementing it anytime soon — I'm living in someone else's home right now — but it's a good idea to keep in mind.

    I think you can tone down the rhetoric, though. "Stop making lame excuses that justify your apathy to following Christ call." Really? I'm not sure why you said it in the way you did, but if you're just trying to get the message across I'd submit that understanding and insistent gentleness work better than accusing people, especially in an anonymous forum like the Internet. But I still appreciate you sharing something that you're passionate about, and it's given me a new way to consider what following Jesus means in the real world.

  15. Ben,
    I tried to comment on this at the JesusManifesto post, but I'll copy and paste it here below for our conversation:

    let me just address the “Lame Excuses” comment.

    I'm sorry if that statement came across as a judgment, rather then an honest critique and rebuke. And reading over the text again, I can see how it might have come across as invalidating those concerns I listed.
    What was really going on in my head is that I feel these are simply excuses, because there are many people, specifically many children, without a home each night, there are individuals and families on the street without mental issues, drug problems, etc. So, even if those are concerns for you, and for many they are, I don't feel like that justifies not responding.

    And the reality is, who am I to judge? Many people have guest bedrooms for, by their standards, legitimate reasons. I personally have a home with a living room that someone could sleep in, one might critique me for not opening that up to a needy person.

    Here's what I do feel is necessary, if anything, is that we as Christians challenge one another in our spending habits and lifestyles. If I err on the side of being too confrontational sometimes, well, I guess that's a risk I'll take. I'd rather people be more direct with me as well…

  16. Ben,
    I tried to comment on this at the JesusManifesto post, but I'll copy and paste it here below for our conversation:

    let me just address the “Lame Excuses” comment.

    I'm sorry if that statement came across as a judgment, rather then an honest critique and rebuke. And reading over the text again, I can see how it might have come across as invalidating those concerns I listed.
    What was really going on in my head is that I feel these are simply excuses, because there are many people, specifically many children, without a home each night, there are individuals and families on the street without mental issues, drug problems, etc. So, even if those are concerns for you, and for many they are, I don't feel like that justifies not responding.

    And the reality is, who am I to judge? Many people have guest bedrooms for, by their standards, legitimate reasons. I personally have a home with a living room that someone could sleep in, one might critique me for not opening that up to a needy person.

    Here's what I do feel is necessary, if anything, is that we as Christians challenge one another in our spending habits and lifestyles. If I err on the side of being too confrontational sometimes, well, I guess that's a risk I'll take. I'd rather people be more direct with me as well…

  17. Ben,
    I tried to comment on this at the JesusManifesto post, but I'll copy and paste it here below for our conversation:

    let me just address the “Lame Excuses” comment.

    I'm sorry if that statement came across as a judgment, rather then an honest critique and rebuke. And reading over the text again, I can see how it might have come across as invalidating those concerns I listed.
    What was really going on in my head is that I feel these are simply excuses, because there are many people, specifically many children, without a home each night, there are individuals and families on the street without mental issues, drug problems, etc. So, even if those are concerns for you, and for many they are, I don't feel like that justifies not responding.

    And the reality is, who am I to judge? Many people have guest bedrooms for, by their standards, legitimate reasons. I personally have a home with a living room that someone could sleep in, one might critique me for not opening that up to a needy person.

    Here's what I do feel is necessary, if anything, is that we as Christians challenge one another in our spending habits and lifestyles. If I err on the side of being too confrontational sometimes, well, I guess that's a risk I'll take. I'd rather people be more direct with me as well…

  18. Ben,
    I tried to comment on this at the JesusManifesto post, but I'll copy and paste it here below for our conversation:

    let me just address the “Lame Excuses” comment.

    I'm sorry if that statement came across as a judgment, rather then an honest critique and rebuke. And reading over the text again, I can see how it might have come across as invalidating those concerns I listed.
    What was really going on in my head is that I feel these are simply excuses, because there are many people, specifically many children, without a home each night, there are individuals and families on the street without mental issues, drug problems, etc. So, even if those are concerns for you, and for many they are, I don't feel like that justifies not responding.

    And the reality is, who am I to judge? Many people have guest bedrooms for, by their standards, legitimate reasons. I personally have a home with a living room that someone could sleep in, one might critique me for not opening that up to a needy person.

    Here's what I do feel is necessary, if anything, is that we as Christians challenge one another in our spending habits and lifestyles. If I err on the side of being too confrontational sometimes, well, I guess that's a risk I'll take. I'd rather people be more direct with me as well…

  19. Ben,
    I tried to comment on this at the JesusManifesto post, but I'll copy and paste it here below for our conversation:

    let me just address the “Lame Excuses” comment.

    I'm sorry if that statement came across as a judgment, rather then an honest critique and rebuke. And reading over the text again, I can see how it might have come across as invalidating those concerns I listed.
    What was really going on in my head is that I feel these are simply excuses, because there are many people, specifically many children, without a home each night, there are individuals and families on the street without mental issues, drug problems, etc. So, even if those are concerns for you, and for many they are, I don't feel like that justifies not responding.

    And the reality is, who am I to judge? Many people have guest bedrooms for, by their standards, legitimate reasons. I personally have a home with a living room that someone could sleep in, one might critique me for not opening that up to a needy person.

    Here's what I do feel is necessary, if anything, is that we as Christians challenge one another in our spending habits and lifestyles. If I err on the side of being too confrontational sometimes, well, I guess that's a risk I'll take. I'd rather people be more direct with me as well…

  20. Ben,
    I tried to comment on this at the JesusManifesto post, but I'll copy and paste it here below for our conversation:

    let me just address the “Lame Excuses” comment.

    I'm sorry if that statement came across as a judgment, rather then an honest critique and rebuke. And reading over the text again, I can see how it might have come across as invalidating those concerns I listed.
    What was really going on in my head is that I feel these are simply excuses, because there are many people, specifically many children, without a home each night, there are individuals and families on the street without mental issues, drug problems, etc. So, even if those are concerns for you, and for many they are, I don't feel like that justifies not responding.

    And the reality is, who am I to judge? Many people have guest bedrooms for, by their standards, legitimate reasons. I personally have a home with a living room that someone could sleep in, one might critique me for not opening that up to a needy person.

    Here's what I do feel is necessary, if anything, is that we as Christians challenge one another in our spending habits and lifestyles. If I err on the side of being too confrontational sometimes, well, I guess that's a risk I'll take. I'd rather people be more direct with me as well…

  21. Thanks for following my tumblelog.

    This is indeed a challenging article for us Christians and I would love to reblog this on my tumblelog, crediting you, of course.

    (And I see there are a lot of reblog-worthy posts on yours so excuse me as I reblog those too! LOL!)

  22. Thanks for stopping by Myk. And feel free to reblog away! I'm glad you find it challenging, chime in whenever you'd like, I enjoy a challenge and push as well.

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