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The urban landscape is changing and, as a result, urban ministries are at a crossroads. If the Church is to be an effective agent of compassion and justice, Robert Lupton notes, we must change our mission strategies. In this compelling book, Lupton asks the tough questions about service providing and community building to help ministries enhance their effectiveness. What a The urban landscape is changing and, as a result, urban ministries are at a crossroads. If the Church is to be an effective agent of compassion and justice, Robert Lupton notes, we must change our mission strategies. In this compelling book, Lupton asks the tough questions about service providing and community building to help ministries enhance their effectiveness. What are the dilemmas that caring people encounter to faithfully carry out the teachings of Scripture and become personally involved with "the least of these?" What are some possible alternatives to the ways we have traditionally attempted to care for the poor? How do people, programs and neighborhoods move towards reciprocal, interdependent relationships? To effect these types of changes will require new skill sets and resources, but the possibilities for good are great.


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The urban landscape is changing and, as a result, urban ministries are at a crossroads. If the Church is to be an effective agent of compassion and justice, Robert Lupton notes, we must change our mission strategies. In this compelling book, Lupton asks the tough questions about service providing and community building to help ministries enhance their effectiveness. What a The urban landscape is changing and, as a result, urban ministries are at a crossroads. If the Church is to be an effective agent of compassion and justice, Robert Lupton notes, we must change our mission strategies. In this compelling book, Lupton asks the tough questions about service providing and community building to help ministries enhance their effectiveness. What are the dilemmas that caring people encounter to faithfully carry out the teachings of Scripture and become personally involved with "the least of these?" What are some possible alternatives to the ways we have traditionally attempted to care for the poor? How do people, programs and neighborhoods move towards reciprocal, interdependent relationships? To effect these types of changes will require new skill sets and resources, but the possibilities for good are great.

30 review for Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor

  1. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    We're reading this in our neighborhood group at church, and it's been one of the best books for discussion about living in the city and loving people around you. Lupton has decades of experience and has considered at length situations that we think about every day in East Nashville. His tone can be a little sassy- but then there's a place for that.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

    Lupton presents a strong argument in favor of Christian Community Development and includes a proposal to use gentrification to improve poor neighborhoods. However, in between two excellent chapters on the above subjects, the book seems padded with fluffy examples. The book is not a coherent whole. The strength of his good chapters justify the 4 out of 5 rating.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jana Jackson

    The book will make you totally rethink "helping the poor"

  4. 5 out of 5

    Will

    In a nutshell, the book offers stories and examples of a paradigm shift in ministry to the poor: moving from betterment (closing closets, food pantries, and the like) to development, and moving from individual to communal services and ministries.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Putnam

    Highlights community involvement as a Christian solution to poverty. Self aware, compassionate, and challenges a lot of the stereotypical approaches to charity. Sometimes problematic wording or ideas, but still progressive and honest.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeremiah Nguapha

    This book will certainly open your eyes to the reality of ministries to the poor. It has certainly made me rethink and approach the idea differently.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Ramos

    Excellent and thought provoking. A must-read for anyone wanting to 'make a difference' in their community.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bekah Backman

    Great examples of transformational work in America. Let's rethink how we relate to and help the poor.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nelson

    "Doing for others what they can do for themselves is charity at its worst." What is true for the individual is also true for communities. Doing for a community what it could do for itself is as dangerous as it is to an individual. Serving people is distinctively different from developing/empowering people. Betterment does for others. Development/empowerment enables a person to change their life which brings hope. It is a long journey from soft-hearted and cheap one way charity, to reciprocal inte "Doing for others what they can do for themselves is charity at its worst." What is true for the individual is also true for communities. Doing for a community what it could do for itself is as dangerous as it is to an individual. Serving people is distinctively different from developing/empowering people. Betterment does for others. Development/empowerment enables a person to change their life which brings hope. It is a long journey from soft-hearted and cheap one way charity, to reciprocal interdependent relationships. Everyone must pull his own weight. That is the key to responsible charity. Which is not to say that everyone has equal capacity nor potential—just equal responsibility. ....Dignity, not pity, will win every time. Neighborhoods decline because of dis-investment.Loading up a depressed neighborhood with services—faith-based or otherwise—does nothing to reverse that downward spiral. Re-investment is needed. Bottom line: the community must be re-neighbored. ..strategies to attract middle-income neighbors back into the area are essential. A community will never come back to life through subsidies and services. Economic viability is the only thing that will build and sustain a healthy community. And then there’s the issue of the spiritual health of the neighborhood. It’s a matter of triage. We’ve got to stop the bleeding first.The odds of success have increased if there is a consensus among city council members and community leaders to lock arms. Yet, who is the visionary? Without a vision the people perish. A ministry that was starting out addressing a pressing need in the community would soon become a problem to that same community. The last thing a neighborhood struggling to revive needs is a proliferation of human services that will insure an ongoing flow of needy recipients into that community. If rebirth is to take place, a de-concentration of poverty and brokenness must take place.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Phil Rushton

    Lupton provides a practical insights as to how we can move beyond simple relief approaches to charity towards a model of community development. He argues that many of our relief models of charity can be naive and create unhelpful dependencies. He advocates a more holistic approach to ministering to the poor that empowers them to participate in community change. For example, he talks about turning food banks into food co-ops that employ the under resourced. He also advocates mixed income neighbor Lupton provides a practical insights as to how we can move beyond simple relief approaches to charity towards a model of community development. He argues that many of our relief models of charity can be naive and create unhelpful dependencies. He advocates a more holistic approach to ministering to the poor that empowers them to participate in community change. For example, he talks about turning food banks into food co-ops that employ the under resourced. He also advocates mixed income neighborhoods that avoid an over-concentration of social services in one area. In so doing he promotes a modified view of gentrification that allows for urban centers to continue their upward mobility while creating a place for the poor to invest in these emerging communities. His book speaks a word of empowerment to those with business and real-estate acumen. The gifts required for this type of community development lie outside the usual social service and ministry gifts. I would love to have some of the professionals in our congregation work through this book and consider how we can bring about the betterment of our community. Key quotes: “How we demonstrate our compassion has everything to do with whether or not the poor actually feel valued.” “New technologies of charity must be developed to bring the dignity of reciprocity into the practice.” "Good neighbors are preferable to good programs any day. And they're a whole lot cheaper." While talking about the importance of relocation. "One of the reasons a ghetto remains poor is because the need is so concentrated. If rebirth is to take place, a de-concentration of poverty and brokenness must take place. The community must become strong enough to deal internally with its own needs."

  11. 5 out of 5

    RF

    I got this for Allan for Christmas and he says its a great resource on outreach and caring for the poor. It's published by the Christian Community Development Association. I read this book in one evening. It has the best response I have read to the question of giving and compassion. I've always struggled to know how to respond when strangers ask for money - I feel terrible if I don't give, but then I don't know if my offering will really help the person. Bob Lupton has lived in an urban setting f I got this for Allan for Christmas and he says its a great resource on outreach and caring for the poor. It's published by the Christian Community Development Association. I read this book in one evening. It has the best response I have read to the question of giving and compassion. I've always struggled to know how to respond when strangers ask for money - I feel terrible if I don't give, but then I don't know if my offering will really help the person. Bob Lupton has lived in an urban setting for decades, and his answers are built from experience in truly walking with poor people. Check it out - it will challenge most church models of giving from a distance. I also learned how giving in a one-sided way can create dependency but not empowerment. This book is really a challenge to move to the next level in compassion for the poor and gives great practical applications... It got me thinking! Allan and I are going to a few CCDA Institutes in the next months, so I will be learning more about this approach.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Stacey

    The book was disturbing, challenging, but truthful. Some of the remarks the author makes--i didn't truly care for. But the fact of the matter is the book made sense. We do these things, help people---but who is to say they will not take us for granted and become "entitled" in their minds for what we offer as far as our services go? We provide services, but they are not working for them. He kept talking about dignity and the poor feeling worthy. I am caught between two extremes: We are called to The book was disturbing, challenging, but truthful. Some of the remarks the author makes--i didn't truly care for. But the fact of the matter is the book made sense. We do these things, help people---but who is to say they will not take us for granted and become "entitled" in their minds for what we offer as far as our services go? We provide services, but they are not working for them. He kept talking about dignity and the poor feeling worthy. I am caught between two extremes: We are called to be humble and we bring nothing but our heart to God. Free food pantry and clothes closets do this. It eliminates pride that has become so bad, and allows people to receive Christ just as they are. I think the clothes closet is not necessarily a bad thing, but we should constantly be moving toward transforming communities. The book is good in thought, but I guess I need more time to sit, contemplate, observe, and see the long run picture that I cannot see. Ministries do need to be impacting the community, not just the individuals.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    Argues for Christian Community Development (CCD) as a robust model to minister effectively to the whole person who happens to be impoverished. This is no quick fix. Moreover, it likely falls outside the resources and talent pool of many churches. This is its greatest drawback. Community development is a monumental task. It requires the right church leaders with the right skill sets who know the right people who have the right community leverage who are willing to follow the right course and invo Argues for Christian Community Development (CCD) as a robust model to minister effectively to the whole person who happens to be impoverished. This is no quick fix. Moreover, it likely falls outside the resources and talent pool of many churches. This is its greatest drawback. Community development is a monumental task. It requires the right church leaders with the right skill sets who know the right people who have the right community leverage who are willing to follow the right course and involve the right community members who have the right desire to see their community revive. Many elements must align before this can be done, and it is a project that takes years. I have no doubt that it is one of the best ways to minister to a given neighborhood. However, efforts to help the poor on the part of the leading church will be circumscribed to this project for years while other needs may have to go unmet. This book does address ways of enhancing church benevolence programs, but its primary aim is community development.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    I found this book more accessible and gentle than "When Helping Hurts". Perhaps When Helping prepared the way for me to be open to the guidance in this book. The short and long of it is that the best way to show Christian kindness to someone is to befriend them, walk with them, support them in becoming their best selves. It is much the way we care for our children and friends. The trouble is that this is time consuming, hard work and we are often called to walk in friendship with those children I found this book more accessible and gentle than "When Helping Hurts". Perhaps When Helping prepared the way for me to be open to the guidance in this book. The short and long of it is that the best way to show Christian kindness to someone is to befriend them, walk with them, support them in becoming their best selves. It is much the way we care for our children and friends. The trouble is that this is time consuming, hard work and we are often called to walk in friendship with those children of God we might prefer to keep at a distance.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    This book has a great deal of wisdom about charity and community development in the life of a Christian. Much of it is composed of things I already knew from much more tedious reading or life experience but these insights are packaged winsomely and easily understood and digested by a broad audience. The chapters are short, the book is thin, and you will not come across many things so profitable that are its equal in ease.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Lyle Wenger

    Great book if your interested in or are involved in inner city ministry. The author shares his evolution of ministry, and how he kept moving to the next step in order to meet the REAL needs of the people. People, churches that read this book, can avoid so many of the mistakes that well meaning people and ministries will make if they don't read this book. Having worked with youth in the city for over 10 years, the ideas the author discusses in this book are very true.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Liz

    Excellent read - I recommend it to anyone doing Christian development work in American urban areas. Lupton challenges the poverty ministry model used for decades - open a food pantry! open a clothing closet! and argues that this is not alleviating poverty, but perpetuating it. He's right, and in an incisive, analytical way, Lupton challenges the reader to consider doing development, not relief, work as a means to alleviate poverty long-term.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    This book is very good but rather disturbing. It challenges a lot of modern ideas and practices having to do with helping the poor. It takes an honest look at what kind of things are being done today and why they aren't having the desired effects. It then describes some programs that are being implemented with very good long-term results. Definitely worth reading!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Jodi

    This book had great information and really challenges readers to look at how ministries impact the communities where they reside, for the good or the bad. Makes one want to be more intentional about Christian community development, making sure those in poverty are also active stakeholders in the process. The only negative about this book is it reads like a textbook.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Dena

    I like Lupton's themes for community development as economic viability, integration as shared responsibility, indigenous resources, and holism, and his reminder to fulfill the great commandment as a pathway to the great commission instead of the other way around (p. 16). I also liked his call to serve through friendship and via applying one's gifts for social benefit.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rich Bergmann

    What Lupton has to say just "makes sense." We know that gentrification drives low-income residents from their neighborhoods, yet *not* actively participating in the redevelopment of a community leads to blight. What to do? Lupton doesn't have "the answer," but he does describe another way -- a way that all decent mission minded servants should consider.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Lupton challenges his readers to reconsider the current way for urban ministries. Through explanation of his own experiences, positive and negative, he outlines the importance of building relationships in order to enhance the community; defining the difference between enabling and empowering the poor for the betterment of the community as a whole.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    This book is excellent for sparking thoughts on Christian Community Development by using Atlanta as an example, Lupton really hones in on his church's errors and successes with developing their community. Additionally, Lupton 'keeps it real' by advocating that true change occurs with indigenous leadership and the leadership of those who seek to gentrify an area.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Another good Lupton book. Again he shares insights and lessons-learned from a life of ministry among the poor. Really challenges the pervasive view of "charity" that can often lead to the opposite of empowerment. This book will spur you on to action!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    Lupton takes a more in-depth meditation on his attempts to love the poor in urban America and the on the ways that well-meaning charity can hurt. To me, this was super instructive. Jesus has taught me something through Robert Lupton.

  26. 5 out of 5

    mpsiple

    Rather than direct advice, Lupton tells stories of his successes and failures in ministry to the poor. You have to make you own applications, but many of his ideas are still paradigms for me as a deacon.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Great book. Great ideas with how to engage with people and organizations for more systemic and relational change. following along with the idea that it means more than handing out, it's building relationships and using the God given skills that each of us have to care for one another.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Abby Schreiner

    This book is practical and insightful. It clearly demonstrates how our attempts at charity can actually be harmful and it offers solutions needed in order to truly better a community in a way that honors the dignity and the humanity of those in the community. I highly recommend this book!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    I picked this up as part of a discussion on poverty and community ministry being held by Christ Central Church in downtown Charlotte.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenni

    Started reading it, but didn't finish...one of these days, I'll get back around to it.

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