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Toxic Charity Book Review–thank you Metanoia (Bill Stanfield)

05/05/2012 Comments off

This is the a rare review without an assignment from a publisher, this book was referred to me by Bill Stanfield of Metanoia, who is DOING (James 1:22 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F59001022(ESV) what this book talks about, I was referred to him through numerous non-believers in the Charleston area that are struck by what he is accomplishing (1 Timothy 3:7 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F54003007(ESV), and good book referrals are an evidence of God’s grace in a world of 140 characters of less.  Thank you Bill!

I heard someone say, we are so busy with our meetings, service projects, outreaches, and programs that believers cannot ever truly make an impact with their neighbor.  A few years ago I was convicted through reading When Helping Hurts, that there is something wrong with the way ‘ministry’, ‘charity’ or ‘benevolence’ work is done.  What I have realized since then, is that good intentioned believers may read a work like this (Toxic Charity or WHH) and like my years with trying to engage other believers with the presupposition of true biblical counseling, the eyes are opened for a short while, but later with the pressures of ministry, congregations, and depravity, it is back to the way we are used to doing it.  Back to the ‘Christian’ programs, back to the ‘Christian’ food banks, back to the short, quick fix, did-my-good-deed-check-my-box without a commitment.

Although TC is not as saturated with scripture as WHH and tends to be a little more caustic, it is still a new book in my arsenal of removing the haze from their eyes when it comes to rethinking making an impact with others.  This book was interesting to me, it challenged me, and enlightened me, that this topic is not going away.  Other believers are trying to wake up Christians as well, and it appears that maybe a few are listening? I think the thing that strikes me the most about these works is that many of the foundational principles are already in effect because of common grace, but in many instances, non-believers are convicted, apply, and see the implications better than routine believers.

What do I mean?  I think quotes will help with that;

Dependency.  Destroying personal initiative.  When we do for those in need what they have the capacity to do for themselves, we disempower them. (3)

Our memory is short when recovery is long.  We respond with immediacy to desperate circumstances but often are unable to shift from crisis relief  to the more complex work of long-term development. (6)

Everywhere I looked, I observed the same patterns, from overseas church mission trips to the inner-city service projects of campus organizations.  Wherever there was sustained one-way giving, unwholesome dynamics and pathologies festered under the cover of kindheartedness. (35)

Churches want their members to feel good about serving the poor, but no one really wants to become involved in messy relationships. (57)

Relationships built on need tend to be short-lived. (60)

The local church is an institution with institutional needs.  It is important to understand this.  It begins with an informal group of like-minded people who come together for fellowship and worship, it evolves into structured organization with budgets and staff and buildings, and finally it matures into an enduring institution.  It functions like all other institutions—with stated mission and an intrinsic motivation to preserve and protect its own interests.  The lion’s share of church budgets are spent on meeting the needs of the congregation, not for the needs of the outside communities.  To earmark mission-trip expenditures as primarily for spiritual benefit of members would be in keeping with traditional church budgeting.  It is important to understand this so that we will not be disappointed by unrealistic expectations. (70)

And the number of church members volunteering in outreach programs measures only activity, not outcomes.  (76)

When leadership is committed to outcomes rather than activity, to measureable results rather than budget size or number of engaged members, changes in mission focus can be navigated with an acceptable level of disruption. (78)

For disadvantaged people to flourish into their full, God-give potential, they must leave behind dependencies that impede their growth.  Initiatives that thwart their development, though right motivated, must be restructured to reinforce self-sufficiency if they are to become agents of lasting and positive change. (102)

Experienced microlending organizations have identified three essential elements for successful microloans:  The borrower must have (1) an ingrained work ethic, (2) a demonstrated entrepreneurial instinct, and (3) a stable support system. (120)

Is your church engaged in community development ministry?  All answered in the affirmative.  But when asked to name their target neighborhood and there transformative goals, none was able to give a definitive answer.  All were in engaged in community service of various sorts, but none were focused on transforming a specific community. (133)

What is required to transform a deteriorating neighborhood is a geographically focused vision with measurable goals over extended time. (133)

In short, become an expert in your community.  Immerse yourselves in every aspect of community life.  Volunteer as appropriate, but make no long-term commitments.  Be interested, supportive neighbor for at least six months before attempting to initiate any new activity. (160)

Is there a way we can bring more human dignity to the process of exchange rather than simply using one-way giving?

Can we increase our personal involvement with those in crisis to assist them with housing, day care, or other support while they get back on their feet? (182)

Robert Lupton (author) does make you think about your activities with charity.  The material was well laid out, held my attention (lots of great application stuff in it as well), and the information was presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner.  I think more scripture, possibly from a creation, fall, redemption and consummation perspective might bring some more convicting applications, but also driving home implications of what is being suggested.  I would highly recommend this book to ANYONE (believers and non-believers)

076205: Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help
By Robert D. Lupton / Harpercollins Publishing

Public service is a way of life for Americans; giving is a part of our national character. But compassionate instincts and generous spirits aren’t enough, says veteran urban activist Robert D. Lupton. In this groundbreaking guide, he reveals the disturbing truth about charity: all too much of it has become toxic, devastating to the very people it’s meant to help.

In his four decades of urban ministry, Lupton has experienced firsthand how our good intentions can have unintended, dire consequences. Our free food and clothing distribution encourages ever-growing handout lines, diminishing the dignity of the poor while increasing their dependency. We converge on inner-city neighborhoods to plant flowers and pick up trash, battering the pride of residents who have the capacity (and responsibility) to beautify their own environment. We fly off on mission trips to poverty-stricken villages, hearts full of pity and suitcases bulging with giveaways-trips that one Nicaraguan leader describes as effective only in "turning my people into beggars."

In Toxic Charity, Lupton urges individuals, churches, and organizations to step away from these spontaneous, often destructive acts of compassion toward thoughtful paths to community development. He delivers proven strategies for moving from toxic charity to transformative charity.

Proposing a powerful "Oath for Compassionate Service" and spotlighting real-life examples of people serving not just with their hearts but with proven strategies and tested tactics, Lupton offers all the tools and inspiration we need to develop healthy, community-driven programs that produce deep, measurable, and lasting change. Everyone who volunteers or donates to charity needs to wrestle with this book.

Peacemaker Ministries is cool!–Hard to Say You’re Sorry?

11/08/2011 3 comments

I subscribe to ‘PeaceMeal’ which is an e-newsletter and they regularly have some great nuggets.  I wish the newsletters were a little more social network friendly so I could share them easier than having to copy and re-paste… oh well…  Here is their newest one … as always, right on time…  If your interested in subscribing yourself, the info is at the bottom… enjoy – Thank you Peacemaker Ministries!!!

Hard to Say You’re Sorry?

For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.

2 Corinthians 7:10 http://www.esvapi.org/assets/play.swf?myUrl=hw%2F47007010(ESV)

If you want someone to respond positively to a confession, make it a point to acknowledge and express sorrow for how you have hurt or afflicted them. Your goal is to show that you understand how the other person felt as a result of your words or actions. Here are a few examples of how this can be done:
“You must have been terribly embarrassed when I said those things in front of everyone. I’m very sorry I did that to you.”
“I can see why you were frustrated when I didn’t deliver the parts on time. I’m sorry I failed to keep my commitment to you.”

Taken from  The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict
by Ken Sande, Updated Edition (Grand Rapids, Baker Books, 2003) p. 130

Food for Thought

How easily do you say, “I’m sorry”?

There was a pop song back in the 80’s that got a lot of radio play; the title was Hard for Me to Say I’m Sorry. The lyrics accurately named the tension of “I really want to say it, but it’s really hard for me to do it.” Does that tension feel familiar? Yeah, me too.

My, how quickly we forget. We forget how incredibly powerful those two little words are — “I’m sorry.” They can defuse a tense situation in a heartbeat. When we honestly express sorrow for what we’ve done, we’re taking the initiative to level things. Rather than looking down our nose at someone, we look him square in the eyes. And it is there, on that face-to-face level, where words like “confession” and “forgiveness” really mean something.

A life lived without regret is a tall order. But being able to say, “I’m sorry” — as hard as it is — is a step in the right direction. So move beyond just wanting to say you are sorry and actually do it.

Looking for a way to study peacemaking on your own from your own computer or tablet? Or maybe you’d like to walk through a study with a group, but you can’t get them in one place?

Our popular and biblical study, Resolving Everyday Conflict, is available online for individual or group study at Peacemaker University for just $29.95. If you’re interested, you can try out a lesson for free or purchase the study. If you have questions, feel free to call us at 800-711-7118.

PeaceMeal is a weekly e-publication of Peacemaker Ministries (www.Peacemaker.net). All Rights Reserved.

Don’t forget to pass the peace! If you found this PeaceMeal helpful, please forward it on to friends. If you’d like to reprint PeaceMeal in your church bulletin or newsletter each week, see the guidelines at www.Peacemaker.net.

Say your piece in PeaceMeal. We are looking for peacemakers from around the world to write the Food for Thought section of a future issue of PeaceMeal. How about you? Guidelines and more information can be found at www.Peacemaker.net.

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Subscribe to PeaceMeal or other free e-publications from Peacemaker Ministries.

Enemies of the Heart: Breaking Free from the Four Emotions That Control You by Andy Stanley–Audio Book Review

21/07/2011 2 comments

Thank you to Christian Audio Reviewers program for access to this audio!

Andy Stanley describes 4 obstacles in the life of a believer (and I would also propose non-believer too) of guilt, anger, greed and jealousy.  Through life examples and biblical references, we see how there is no disconnect regarding the prescription for these maladies.

I have wanted to read something by Andy for a while, however with this audio I found it hard to stay focused on the audio due to the narration.  Although the topic was enticing and engaging, the narration left something to be desired (and I gave it a fair shot by listening to it a few times before writing this review).

The audio did challenge me to revisit studies have have done on the 4 enemies and it was good for me to revisit my biblical counseling foundations in these areas in my life.  Although the author attempted to convey biblical truth I was turned off by the therapeutic gospel elements of the tone of the book.

I must confess however that the information was presented in a cohesive, yet appealing manner and I can give Andy a charitable judgment in that I believe he was attempting to successfully convey Biblical truth.  I would not recommend this book to others because I believe that stories, reflections, or revisiting sin history do not take the place of confession (which he does address) or repentance and especially obedience to scripture when it comes to the 4 enemies.

Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande & Kevin Johnson–Audio Book Review

25/06/2011 Comments off

Thank you to the Christian Audio Reviewer’s Program of christianaudio.com for the opportunity to review this audiobook.

All of us have conflicts.  In the intro the authors state that maybe you are even picking up this book because your in one now.  As we all know, conflicts happen, whether in writing an email, posting on social networks, in line at the store, or at the yearly family gatherings.  You pick any time and place, conflicts are probably going on.  Conflict is not prejudice and can be found in most relationships.  Conflicts happen because we live in a fallen world and the result of this depravity, lack of communication, and perseverance to resolve the situation, conflicts are all around us.  No one is left unscathed.

You probably recognize the famous author Ken Sande of Peacemaker Ministries who wrote the best seller, The Peacemaker:  A Biblical Guide to Resolving Conflict.  This new book (REC), states that;

Everyone encounters conflict–whether it be with a co-worker, family member, friend, or complete stranger. And yet we all desire harmony in our relationships. Resolving Everyday Conflict is a practical, biblical, and concise guide to peacemaking in everyday life that can turn your troubled relationships into peaceful ones.

I am a peacemaking addict!  Why… it seems that I am very aware of the conflicts in my life regularly.  This audio was timely, biblical, good narration, and short enough to be knocked out in a couple of days.  I actually listened to it a few times (and probably need to listen to it again…).  As always am challenged by the Peacemaker Ministries material and this is no exception. 

Chapter 3 was probably the most impactful for me in that the authors take some time to break down and explain Peace faking, Peace braking, and Peacemaking.  I was struck because I have always known (prideful of course) that I was a peace breaker, but the authors go on to describe that one can actually mix both of them together, and as I listened I was convicted that I at times am also a peace faker.  I could not help but think (in my subsequent reviews) that I wish I could also share this with a few folks I was in conflict with now, and I was convicted again, in that the authors address this heart motive too… This message was for me, not for ‘them’.

I highly recommend this audiobook in that the authors challenge our culture and remind us of the gospel and the biblical indicatives and imperatives when it comes to peace making.  Further the presentation of the material was informative, cohesive, down to earth, filled with transparency, authenticity, examples and the narration was very appealing.  The author’s successfully (as always) conveyed Biblical truth, and I would recommend this to ANYONE who is interested in becoming a peacemaker.  If your willing to take it further than the audio, on the PM site, you can even take an online course!  Excellent resource and highly recommend!

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