The Bible commands Christians to love others. Now some churches are putting that love into action. Near parking lots and steepled sanctuaries, congregations are building everything from fixed microhomes to moveable cabins and other small-footprint dwellings. They’re tackling a big problem with a small solution: tiny homes for the homeless.
The drive to provide shelter is rooted in Christian beliefs. Love shouldn’t be shown merely in words, but in actions. (1 John 3:17-18)
“It’s just such an integral part of who we are as a people of faith,” says Lisa Fischbeck. She is board chair of Pee Wee Homes, an affordable housing organization building tiny abodes in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She points out that tiny homes can fit nearly anywhere.
“I just feel so passionately that churches have space,” Fischbeck says. “Just consider it. It’s a dire need.”
She says one advantage to building on church properties is the churches already have electricity, water, and other infrastructure in place.
Three years ago, Chapel Hill’s Episcopal Church of the Advocate added three one-bedroom units on its 15-acre campus. One of the first residents, Nathaniel “Pee Wee” Lee, moved in in June 2019. Before that, Lee had spent years sleeping in alleys, cardboard shelters, and cars after medical issues ended his masonry career.
“I thank the Lord because this is mine and nobody can run me out,” he says.
Churches often turn to community organizations for help with construction, operation, and dealing with government hurdles.
For example, a Church of the Nazarene congregation in Minnesota is assembling a tiny house community for homeless people with a local nonprofit.
“We do not have a lot of property,” says Jeff O’Rourke, lead pastor of Mosaic Christian Community in St. Paul. “We have just strived to use every square inch . . . to be hospitable.”
Not everyone welcomes such projects into their neighborhoods. In Nashville, Glencliff United Methodist Church’s plans to erect tiny homes prompted backlash and a lawsuit by some neighbors. Ultimately, Glencliff prevailed. Now several microhomes greet congregants as they enter the church driveway.
Meridian Baptist Church in California partnered with a local nonprofit to build sleeping cabins on part of its property. Mothers with children can stay for 90 days while looking for other options.
“Folks have said to me that six cabins are not going to make a difference, and I wholeheartedly disagree,” Pastor Rolland Slade says. “We’ll make the difference for at least six women. If they each have a child, that’ll be six children.”
Why? There are many needs—and therefore opportunities—in any community. Finding ways to help bear another’s burden is part of fulfilling the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Thats so nice!!
This is such an awesome way to serve and bless others! It is also a great way to get to share the gospel with people!