I’ve been reading Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, by Robert D. Lupton. The subtitle, “How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help,” gives a great description of the principles outlined in this book.
Lupton makes the case that give-away charities are easy and make the givers feel good, but usually doesn’t foster long-term relationships and development. As Ron Snider (president of Evangelicals for Social Action) says, “A quick donation is cheap love.”
Moving beyond food pantries and handouts, if we want to help the poor, we need to empower “people based on shared responsibility, mutual support, and accountability.”
Quotes from Lupton
Here are some other excerpts from what I’ve read so far:
“The granting of money creates dependence and conflict, not independence and respect.”
“Our low-income neighbors would much rather work to purchase gifts for their children than stand in free-toy lines with their ‘proof-of-poverty’ identification.”
“Mercy that doesn’t move intentionally in the direction of development (justice) will end up doing more harm than good — to both the giver and recipient.”
To Learn More
Darren Carlson wrote a provocative post (over 200 comments in the first 5 days), called Why You Should Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Mission Trips. Much of his post was based on Toxic Charity.
You can check out Culturally-Engaged, a ministry of Grace Church, where I have been discipled and taught so much about outreach, missions, and serving others.
Here are a few other posts of mine on the topic of meeting the needs of poverty:
- Poverty Cure
- Stop Serving the Poor?
- De-Toxifying Charity
- Attacking Poverty Through Relief, Rehabilitation, and Development
- Poverty Robs You
- My Coin Laundry Experience
- Short-Term Missions
- Being Missional Is About Giving AND Receiving