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Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse It Paperback – October 2, 2012
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“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.’” (Christianity Today)
“[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.” (Washington Post)
“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.” (Danny Wuerffel, Executive Director, Desire Street Ministries)
“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.” (John McKnight, Codirector, Asset Based Community Development Institute, Northwestern University)
“A must-read book for those who give or help others.” (Booklist)
“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.” (Roger Sandberg, Executive Director of Medair International)
“A superb book. Toxic Charity should serve as a guide and course correction for anyone involved in charitable endeavors at home or abroad.” (Ronald W. Nikkel, President, Prison Fellowship International)
“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.” (Dr. Joel C. Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland – A Church Distributed)
“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.” (Philip Yancey, author of What Good Is God?)
“Top 10 book of the year.” (World Magazine)
From the Back Cover
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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Lupton brings our what I also became aware of doing case manager work in my community--give aways simply promote dependence. I, too, have participated in mission trips where we raised thousands of dollars to send untrained people to work somewhere for a few days when sending the money would have accomplished a great deal more. I, too, have taken people to community food banks to get free sacks of groceries because the extra money went for lottery tickets, booze, and pay-per-view cable TV. That’s not their fault; we have paid no attention to the incentives we have given them to be irresponsible. Nothing happens to them if they are.
What I was most interested in was HOW we change our current give-away programs to organize the poor into helping themselves. As I read, I could see vague outlines for such programs. I realize that Lupton’s answers aren’t cookie cutters for every community. And, because he has done it, his agency is the place to look at how it should be done where I live. Still, that part could have been stronger.
But, kudos to Rev. Lupton for speaking out about what many of us well-meaning people, Christian or otherwise, have not wanted to say. Something is wrong with us handing out backpacks to school kids every weekend and showering Christmas presents on children whose parents can’t pay the electric bill in January. We are raising another generation of people who think that hand outs are the way to live when their grandparents and great-grandparents worked hard for everything they had.