Advice to christians
Simon Cozens wrote about this news story in his journal:
" I've been getting steadily more and more angry about this over the past week, and now I'm bloody furious. Angry with what? ... with the church - and that must start with myself - for not being there to offer counselling, unconditional love and the opportunity to value life in a different way "
I can think of plenty of reasons to be angry at the church, but this isn't one of them. I'd bet a large amount of money that the people involved weren't christians. Consequently, I'd expect them to see any attempt by the church - or by a christian proselytiser - to barge into their lives and blather about "counselling" and "unconditional love" as being just unwelcome interference. It would be a different matter entirely, and quite probably more effective too, for concerned christians to do their good works seperate from and without regard for the church. The church is not welcomed in a great many places and by a great many people. Decent caring people, however, are welcomed far more widely, by christian and non-christian alike.
I suppose the root of this is that to non-christians, the church and christianity are at best an irrelevance, at worst a rabid dog which should be shot on sight. Individual christians, however, cover the whole range from rabid dog through loveable puppy to faithful old friend. By approaching a non-christian (and I don't think it makes any difference whether they're not christian because they've examined christianity and found it wanting like I have, or because the church effectively doesn't exist in their environment) as the church, you have no chance of getting a good response and run the risk of getting a bad one. By approaching as a person, you at least have the chance of getting a good response. Once you're doing good works as an individual you might get the opportunity to introduce christianity after creating an environment in which it may be received positively.
Or to put it another way, when you want to say "we're from the church, we're here to help", think what the response would be if you said "we're from the Labour party, we're here to help". And then say "my name's Simon, I'm here to help".