Do's and Don'ts in Mercy Ministries

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Keys to Mercy Work in particular with homeless people and/or people with addictions/challenging behaviour: how can we really meet their needs?

The Principal

  1. You are detailing with people not laying pipe!
  2. Remember Problem ownership - don't take their problems from them (they will try to give them to you)
  3. Say what you mean and mean what you say - your word should be gold to them
  4. 75% of the people you will work with will need help but only 25% will want it. Try to spend 25% of your time with the people who don't want it and 75% of the your time with the people who (really) want it.
  5. Love the person more than loving to see them become a Christian


Build Friendship: This is the Foundation of all work! Spend most of your time doing it


People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care! Embrace them. Let them know you love them with Agape love. (How else are they going to see God if you don't show him?) If that love will be a challenge for you then, great! Let it be. This can prove how much you love them. If you don't love the people you working with, you will not be will to pay the price. (and Mercy Ministry will cost you a lot)

Build Friendship

This is the Foundation of all work! Spend most of your time doing it. The people you work with will say that this is not what they want, but when the crisis has come (and they will) and you have done this right they will come looking for you.

Check Out Their Stories

The main aim for many people with life controlling issues is : to get their needs met. They will tell you anything to get you to help them. You may hear the most amazing tales. It helps to say something like this: "That is an amazing story". Then you will have to agree that it is hard to believe. (repeat the story and highlight the part that is hard to believe). "I very sorry I'd love to help you but I going to need some proof that this story is true" (at this point ask for one or two this that will corroborate their stories).

Sometimes the person will offer other "proofs" than you asked for. Just say "That's great and I was not looking for that". Repeat again what was the proof agreed on as needed, and then state that you will not be able to offer any help in that area until it is proven.

Word of warning: if you are not willing to see this through then don't start!

Give Assistance in the Name of Jesus

Make sure that if you are helping someone and you think it may be a one off make sure that the person you are helping know you doing this in the Name of Jesus (and because his love compels you) and that it is nice because you are a nice guy!


Don't Give Money!

Monetary euro symbol 01.png

Giving money is a cop out - it does not help the person; it just make you feel better. There is no accountability with giving money. If someone needs something to eat, feed them. If someone needs a bus, take them to the bus stop and buy the ticket for them. (It is suprising how many needs vanish when you help people like this)

FAQ about why I don't give money

Q. What if someone has a need to get the buses and I don't have the time to go with them.
A. Change your schedule
Q. What if they need to get to the doctor or hospital
A. Drive them!

important: Don't Lead a drunk person (or someone that might be drunk) in the Sinners Prayer I would not ever talk to people that are drunk about spiritual matters. Just think about it like this: If someone is drunk they should not drive a car; The Police will not take a statement from them as they are under the influence of alcohol. But many people that I work with felt they could lead a drunk person in to a lifetime commitment to Jesus.

If someone is drunk try to keep them safe (even if this mean they get arrested) and leave detail so they can contact you when they are sober.

Meeting Needs in Mercy Ministry

Is the Need a Real Need?

Most likely anyone that has done Mercy Ministry for more then two weeks will have had someone come to your door asking for help. Perhaps you might have wondered why they show up at just when you ready to go home? What have they been doing all day that they had to wait until now to see you? I always ask them what have they been doing all day. This shocks some people when you ask this, but it makes sense if they have been hungry all day why did they wait until the end of the day to find food?

If you want to really suprise a begger asked him what has he done to make his life better today. (Beware you may be swear at)

How do You Meet the Need?

Don't go for the quick fix! This may make you feel good and the person happy but it not way to do it. If you go for the quick fix you will get a reputation for being a 'soft touch' and will not gain their respect. You should be more concern with gaining their respect than having them like you.

A good practice is to immediately tell the person that you would love to help them and ask them to come back at a set time the following day. I used 10:15 Monday - Friday. I would find out that they are looking for e.g. Food/housing/salvation and I was only prepared to talk about what they said they want to talk about. This method cuts down on them trying to use talking about God simply in order to get help. I will try to help them even if we don't talk about God. If they say they want to talk about God I will not talk about any of their other needs at this appointment.

If they did not show up by 10:30-10:45 I would not meet with them but make another appointment. (I know this sound very harsh but if people are desperate they would do what you ask)

When dealing with the need don't be the complete answer, this means that the person needs to have do something, even if it is just waiting. Remember if you get something for nothing it's worth that much!

If they want food take them shopping. If they need to go to doctor have them book the appointment. This method of dealing with people helps weed out people that are looking for an easy ride. It also test people to see how much they want help. It also empowers people to start to meet their own needs.

How do You Measure Success?

This is a tough one when it come to Mercy Work but I think is a very clear method to figure if you been successful or not.

  1. If you help someone and you never see them again then you were successful!
  2. If someone is not coming to you with the same problem over and over again you been successful.
  3. If they seek you out when they have a crisis then your are successful.
  4. If you gain respect and welcome you as a friend (in that order) then you have been successful.
  5. If, at the end of the day you feel you have done what is right for that person and given them your best, you are then successful

Please note if having a good success and clear result means that it is something that "floats your boat" then Mercy Ministry may not be for you!

Final Thought

If you still reading this and I have not be able to put you off then Mercy Ministry may be for you. But here something to think about if you found this article offensive and feel I am not very nice then be prepared that many of the people you will work with will not be very nice either. Please don't get involved with Mercy Ministry because you want to meet your own needs. As for 'skills needed' merely be willing to listen and not to judge. Remember "there but for the Grace of God goes I!".

If you have any questions please email me.