Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (And How to Reverse It)

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Overview

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, ...

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Toxic Charity: How the Church Hurts Those They Help and How to Reverse It

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Booklist
“A must-read book for those who give or help others.”
Christianity Today
“Lupton says hard things that need to be said, and he’s earned the right to say them. Believers would do well to receive his words with the mindset that ‘faithful are the wounds of a friend.’”
Washington Post
“[Lupton’s] new book, Toxic Charity, draws on his 40 years’ experience as an urban activist in Atlanta, and he argues that most charitable work is ineffective or actually harmful to those it is supposed to help.”
World Magazine
“Top 10 book of the year.”
Danny Wuerffel
“Lupton’s work, his books and, most importantly, his life continue to guide and encourage me to live and serve in a way that honors God and my neighbor. I highly recommend Toxic Charity.”
John McKnight
“Lupton’s book reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. He shows how the people called poor can be blessed by supporting opportunities for them to give their gifts, skills, knowledge and wisdom to creating the future.”
Roger Sandberg
“In Toxic Charity, Lupton reminds us that being materialistically poor does not mean that there is no capacity, no voice, and no dignity within a person. If we truly love the poor, we will want to educate ourselves on how best to serve. Let our charity be transformative not toxic.”
Ronald W. Nikkel
“A superb book. Toxic Charity should serve as a guide and course correction for anyone involved in charitable endeavors at home or abroad.”
Dr. Joel C. Hunter
“Toxic Charity provides the needed counterbalance to a kind heart: a wise mind. Though I often thought, “Ouch!” while I was reading the book, Robert Lupton gave this pastor what I needed to become a more effective leader.”
Philip Yancey
“When Bob Lupton speaks of the inner city, the rest of us ought to sit up and take notice... [His work is] deeply distrurbing—in the best sense of the word.”
Doctor - Joel C. Hunter
"Toxic Charity provides the needed counterbalance to a kind heart: a wise mind. Though I often thought, "Ouch!" while I was reading the book, Robert Lupton gave this pastor what I needed to become a more effective leader."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062076212
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/2/2012
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 30,183
  • Product dimensions: 5.38 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 0.52 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert D. Lupton is founder and president of FCS Urban Ministries (Focused Community Strategies) and the author of Theirs Is the Kingdom; Compassion, Justice, and the Christian Life; and the widely circulated "Urban Perspectives."

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 The Scandal 1

Chapter 2 The Problem with Good Intentions 11

Chapter 3 The Anatomy of Giving 31

Chapter 4 Needs vs. Relationships 51

Chapter 5 Beyond Us-Based Giving 65

Chapter 6 No Quick Fixes 85

Chapter 7 Wise Giving 103

Chapter 8 Take the Oath 127

Chapter 9 Service with Dignity 147

Chapter 10 Getting Started 165

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 29, 2012

    Highly Recommend-a must read!

    This book gives perspective from the receiver of the time and money of charitable donors. While I have mixed emotions regarding the opinion's expressed regarding the missionary work of the church, it does force one to consider the long-term ramifications of giving to those in need without requiring accountability from them. I particularly like the idea of providing opportunity for those in need to help themselves. Ultimately shouldn't our goal be to eliminate need for charity?

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 4, 2012

    Highly Recommended

    A very challenging read - especially to anyone who works in faith-based charities. Lupton asks some provocative questions that for the most part are going unasked.

    We're planning to use this book as study material in our church to help us find wiser ways of engaging in community service.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 25, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Highly Recommended

    Mr. Lupton tells a very convincing story about what we are doing to the underprivileged. We are taking away their self esteem as well as giving them the reasons to continue in a welfare state. Read the book. IT IS GREAT!!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 1, 2013

    Essential reading for church leaders

    Lupton has done a good job of identifying the issues and the problems of
    compassion as charity.

    He makes some essential points.

    1) outputs vs. outcomes. In all relief and development work it's
    important to distinguish between what is done (outputs) and the intended
    result (outcomes).

    2) delivery of services vs. community development. There will always be
    a need for emergency assistance in response to disasters. Many churches begin their compassion programs with food and clothing distribution - but don't go beyond relief to community development.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    Isabella

    Ok we have to have as at headlines black. You do it by eather puting < br > or < p > with out spaces. And we throws meat and bones at the royals then come back here. Dose that sound like a plane?" Isabella asks smiling as she grabs her bag full of bones and meat.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 8, 2014

    GRAND STAIRCASE

    Here

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 18, 2013

    Emma

    Shawdow...

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2013

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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