Thursday, June 21, 2012

Toxic Charity: A Book Review

Title: Toxic Charity: How churches and charities hurt those they help (and how to reverse it)
Author: Robert D. Lupton

I just finished this book and it was a complete gem of a book, so I'm sharing it... It was given to me by Larry Sharp who is the Director of Partnerships for IBEC Ventures and the Vice President of CrossWorld and he's a ministry leader for the internship I'm doing here in Bend, OR.

Toxic Charity is all about mistakes that we've made (usually in the church) when we try to do good things for other people but the long-term effects of our actions are actually negative. Lupton gives us inside stories of many pastors and leaders "who attempt to nagivate their churches or organizations away from traditional 'doing for' the poor towards a 'doing with' paradigm." So many times our youth groups and volunteer groups want to make a difference so they spend one day painting a building or handing out food which totally makes us feel good...but diminishes the dignity and creates dependency of the people in the community we're trying to help. Lupton says, "For all our efforts to eliminate poverty - our entitlements, our programs, our charities - we have succeeded only in creating a permanent underclass, dismantling their family structures, and eroding their ethic of work. And our poor continue to become poorer."

The solution that Lupton proves as effective throughout the book is community development and raising up indigenous leadership to help create better city programs, eliminate crime, increase safety, better the education and better the economy. He has as ton of hands-on experience, as he started Focused Community Strategies which is an urban ministry organization based in Atlanta, GA that does community development one suburb at a time. He gives examples of communities in Atlanta and also abroad in countries like Nicaragua that  have been transformed through the process of development.

If you want a convicting, powerful, yet hopeful book about giving away your time and efforts to help other people, this is the book for you. Really anyone should use it so that they have a better understanding of how to get involved in charities and really what to stop doing. I personally was convicted many times when I thought back to the "projects" my youth group and schools have done in the past and I'm sure you will be too.

I would say more, but you should just read it for yourself. If you decide to purchase this book (which you should), you can do so here :)

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