(3) Be Clear
It is very easy in the midst of a multitude of problems that contacts will have (social, financial, housing, mental health, abuse, criminal and family breakdown are only a selection of the problems that you will face and many of them all involved one single individual) to become so swamped by the immediate needs that we miss the most important issue of all - THE GOSPEL.
It is important to never lose sight of the primary reason that we are reaching out. While it is perfectly reasonable that we do not sweep the evident physical problems aside with uncaring indifference, we must never allow the physical needs to replace the priority of the spiritual/eternal needs of the folks we come in contact with. For many of these dear folks life is very fragile. Often lives are lost/taken by drug or alcohol overdose, violence from the others in the same situation and often the hopelessness of the situation leads our contacts to self-harm and suicide. So, the urgency of the Gospel MUST BE AT THE FOREFRONT of all that we do and MUST be the most important component of our contacts with the folks we meet. This can be done on various ways but must NEVER be subservient to our efforts to alleviate physical distress.
A common expression attributed to Francis of Assisi is heard often amongst Christians "Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary use words". The suggestion is that words are a secondary issue to our witness. This is entirely without any biblical foundation. We must have lives that are consistent with the gospel (“Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: Philippians 1:27) and use our compassion as a means of winning confidence and communication channels but we must reach folks with the gospel as urgently and often as we can using word of mouth or reliable literature. Time is short for this section of the population and time is of the essence. It is foolishness to think that we have days/weeks/month/years to build a relationship before we bring the gospel to them. Be CLEAR, be upfront, keep the gospel focus in everything you do and at all times. (“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season....” 2 Timothy 4:2).
In addition it is important to be clear about the CONTENT of the gospel message that we are bringing to this most needy section of our population. A message primarily emphasising life improvement is undoubtedly going to find many folks willing to listen and even respond but is far from the reality of the faithful biblical message of reconciliation to God through the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Much damage is done to the cause of Christ and many are left disillusioned through the proclamation of an un-biblical message.