The last book I finished was transformational.
I say this because I first picked it up when I heard that reading this book alone had transformed the Eastern Kentucky ministry called GAP which we have supported in the past. Thay are in the process of phasing out an old way of ministry and phasing in a new one, after reading this:
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating poverty without hurting the poor...and yourself. By Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert.
I was also interested in it because I was looking for a balanced response to the increased emphasis on social justice among young Christians. It's not that I'm against helping the poor. On the contrary, I'm glad this issue is at the forefront of the church, because I am convinced that the Gospel changes everything, including systems that keep people broken and in poverty.
However, my concern is that in helping the poor, we were doing it correctly. I believe this book helps us do just that. Anyone who is interested in this topic at all, anyone who is in leadership in a church or ministry that oversees practical, outreach or missions ministry, needs to read this book.
Some practical highlights that will stick with me:
1. It is true that Jesus' gospel can tranform communities and alleviate poverty, and it is the gospel that must be central to our efforts (this is the thing that kept me reading).
2. We are all in various stages of restoration/brokenness - we cannot place great gulfs between us and the materially poor.
3. The greatest mistake that the American church makes in their local neighborhoods is distributing relief when community development is what's needed (let's face it, there are hungry people in our cities and there are people that need jobs, but the majority of us are not facing tsunamis, earthquakes, or flood situations.).
4. We need a balanced outlook on short-term missions. We can't throw them out altogether but neither can we make them something they're not.
Great quote from the book:
"Poverty is rooted in broken relationships, so the solution to poverty is rooted in the power of Jesus’ death and resurrection to put all things into right relationship again."
On a side note - if anyone wants to read this book, there is a copy at the public library in Berea! You can read it for free! Stop in and see me and I'll help you find it or put it on hold. Libraries are great...