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When Helping Hurts: Alleviating the Poverty Without Hurting The Poor...And Ourselves
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When Helping Hurts: Alleviating the Poverty Without Hurting The Poor...And Ourselves

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  4,382 ratings  ·  509 reviews
Churches and individual Christians typically have faulty assumptions about the causes of poverty, resulting in the use of strategies that do considerable harm to poor people and themselves. When Helping Hurts provides foundational concepts, clearly articulated general principles and relevant applications. The result is an effective and holistic ministry to the poor, not a ...more
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Published February 1st 2010 by christianaudio
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John Martindale
Aug 19, 2012 John Martindale rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to John by: Pastor Bynum
A very good book, though it is messing up my world. Their chapter on why short term mission trips are typically more harmful then good, was unsettling (Especially since my job is to host short term mission teams), I disagree with them on some points (for example, they claimed short term trips don't result in more full time missionaries, but I am a full time missionary because of going on short term mission trips and practically ever missionary I know has the same story). but yeah, I still see ho ...more
Emily
I could not be bothered to finish this. I agreed with many of the cited information and claims that the authors made, but not with any of the conclusions that they drew from this information. I'm not crazy about short-term missions and I deplore many of the things that the author condemns, such as the "poverty as deficit" model, paternalism towards the poor, and blaming the poor for their situation. I appreciated Chapter 8, but feel that it fell short.
However, the author often backtracks or rew
...more
Barnabas Piper
The first half of this book should get 6 or 7 out of five stars. The principles, concepts, and framework it presents are ministry and mindset altering. For me, as someone who gravitates toward that kind of instruction and thinking, it was priceless. The second half of the book looked deeper at particular areas of ministry such as short term missions or micro finance, so it was aimed a bit more at practitioners. Over all, this is one of the few books that I think every single missionary, pastor, ...more
Christy
So here's the thing. This book contains radically important and often overlooked information. Sometimes the band-aids we put on what we view as poverty ends up causing much more harm than good in the long run, in ways we've refused to see. I get that. It points out that we sometimes see ourselves as some kind of savior, perfect and needing to share that perfection which is just all wrong. I get that too. I also feel more and more that we should help smarter-put our time and effort into the ways ...more
Dana
This is a very eye opening and thought provoking book on an important subject. The authors do a great job of explaining what poverty truly is and then offer different solutions to aid in poverty alleviation. The greatest thing I took away from this book is the authors worldview that all people are made in the image of God and are meant to glorify God by fulfilling their vocational calling. This idea is the foundation of their solution. The authors have a humble attitude and stress that all peopl ...more
Trice
Overall, really good content and a good reminder of some major blind spots in the church in the developed world, along with some good guidance on better ways to move forward.

It felt a little scattered in places because often, in the midst of talking about theories of poverty alleviation, they suddenly throw in, 'but this isn't enough - don't forget about the gospel.' And while this is true, the way it was included in the book felt more like a distraction in some places than a helpful note.

Althou
...more
Rebecca
Very challenging and enlightening book. Read during summer school at my church and great discussion-driver! For me (and maybe those like me), you might have to persevere through the first two chapters. I struggled with some of the terminology and felt that the scriptural assertions were stretched out of context a bit. But as I continued to read, I got a better sense for the author's heart and appreciate the perspective more. Below are some of the big take away messages for me:

- Maybe a more PC w
...more
Jonathan McIntosh
Outstanding book. A must read for any Christian or local church that is serious about serving the poor. This book totally challenged my existing ideas of poverty, poverty alleviation, and practical steps local churches need to take to serve the poor both at home and abroad.
Douglas Wilson
Very good book, with the exception of chapter 8. That one was a brick, but the rest of the book is much needed.
Joanna
This is an absolute must-read for those who are engaging in the current trend toward missional poverty alleviation efforts. Corbett begins with a Biblically based understanding on broken relationships derived from the fall and their radiating effects to all the various relationships that make up our social structures. He marries this Biblical understanding to scholarly research on social work, highlighting especially potential misconceptions or matters of ignorance in the common practices of pov ...more
Marcus Lynn
Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert have done a great service for the Church in their book When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Yourself.



One of the major premises of the book is that “until we can embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do far more harm than good.” Their central point is, ” One of the biggest problems in many poverty-alleviation efforts is that their design and implementation exacerbates the poverty of being of
...more
Jill Boyd
This is the best book I've ever read on this subject. My basic take away is that true, effective, sincere help is possible when given in humility and the attitude that we're all broken and in need. The reason people are in need is because their basic relationships are weak...their relationships to family, friends, God and creation. Completely fixing these things are impossible but we can help in a way that takes time, time, time and energy, energy, energy and be effective.

So hey, maybe giving a
...more
Christopher
This book was recently recommended to me by the missions pastor at my church and I am very grateful to him for this recommendation. This is a book that deals with the topic of poverty alleviation from a North American Christian perspective and seeks to answer the question: why do certain missionary projects in our communities and around the world tend to do no good or even harm to those we are ministering too. The authors, Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, rightly point out that the foundationa ...more
Harold Cameron
“How TO Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting The Poor And Yourself”

“With a new foreword by David Platt, two new chapters and a final word on how to help without hurting, this expanded edition of When Helping Hurts creates a new paradigm for partnership by asking Christians to declare and demonstrate among people who are poor that Jesus Christ is making all things new. While this book exposes past and current development efforts that churches have engaged in which unintentionally undermine the peopl
...more
Jennifer
I'd recently read The Hole in our Gospel, and thought it a compelling call to action. This book, recommended to me by a friend, is a plan of action. Well, not a plan perhaps, but a set of guidelines and considerations on how to help effectively. Basically, it about how not to make things worse by throwing money around and attempting to rescue those who do not need *you* to rescue them. It focuses on the need of both rich and poor for the true Savior to rescue them, and how to effectively ministe ...more
Missjgray
I'm about a year behind everyone else reading this. But that's ok, I've read plenty else that, I think, provides a good context for understanding where this book is coming from, and where it could be going. This book points out some relevant questions, but answers them from a very arrogant point of view (while affirming non-arrogance) and does little to provide motivation other than selfish reasoning. Don't help the poor the wrong way or you'll hurt yourself and waste your time.

There seems to b
...more
Jason Custer
If you have any intention of ever being involved in missions (short or long term), humanitarian aid, or working with those in poverty, I'd highly recommend you read this book. The thesis is that, in our western and materialistic understanding of poverty, when we try to help those in poverty we actually do more harm than good (both to those we are trying to help, and to ourselves). We tend to see the problem of poverty as a material/financial solution that we need to fix by giving the right amoun ...more
Susie
This book is an excellent read for people no matter where they may be serving. If you heart is burdened to do something to help people who live all around us it's important to read this book first. We need to stop and consider what this author has said before we throw money around thinking that we're helping. We may actually be hurting, and I don't think any of us want to do that! We need to understand that "Poverty is the result of relationships that do not work, that are not just, that are not ...more
blackness
I greatly enjoyed this book and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in "helps" ministries.

The book is probably more suited for people who are highly involved in running or participating in "helps" ministries, but even if you aren't running a ministry it is great to think through the issues raised in this book; especially the issues that the authors bring up about paternalism, money/power issues, god-complexes, and other pitfalls pertaining to the social issues of the "goers" and "he
...more
Linda
Wow! This is a book that will go beyond stepping on toes.....it stomps on them, slaps your face and pierces your heart! Steve Corbett makes total sense and addresses the alleviation of poverty in a way totally opposite of what I generally hear in churches or in literature geared toward sparking folks to "get involved in missions." Those in poverty focus on the shame and humiliation that comes with an inability to provide for yourself or your family. It seems that the focus of many Americans with ...more
Dale
This book was a helpful reminder of things that many authors have previously said ("give a man a fish...teach a man to fish..."); but it didn't break any new ground.

But there was a general tone, especially in the Forward and the Preface, towards Marxism.

In the Forward, Dr. John Perkins calls for the need for "social justice." That has become code word not for justice and mercy for the poor, but the call for the government to redistribute wealth.

In the Preface, the authors favorably discuss the
...more
Karen B
I read the first edition of this book quickly about 2 years ago. It's good and important, but it felt like it wasn't addressed to me. I work overseas in international relief and development. This felt like it was more oriented towards a US-based audience, church leaders and missions pastors who need ideas for a better way to give.

So I perhaps didn't read it as deeply as I should have because it wasn't "scratching my itch" or addressing issues and questions I was facing at the time. However, rece
...more
Caroline P
Overall I enjoyed this book, and challenged some of the thinking I had, which was fantastic. Some chapters were a little more boring, and some chapters I've marked up quite a bit. One note- don't judge the book by the first chapter. It gets much better as the second chapter begins.
Dave Johnson
Overall it was a good book. The premise is challenging: in our desire to help the poor and needy, we often hurt them with handouts. It gave some great insight into poverty and great strategies into poverty alleviation. Probably the thing I will remember most is the way in which they talked about short term mission trips. I have been on some, and I left the book convicted to change the way I respond to STMs.
Laura
[I think this review is connected to the ebook but I read it in actual physical book form.]

This book is essential for any Christian called to alleviating material poverty in both the USA and the rest of the world - that means every believer should read it.

The book is about half theological foundational discussion and half practical framework/advice.

I had the privilege of attending a "Helping Without Hurting" workshop a couple weeks ago, given by Brian Fikkert (one of the authors). If one comes
...more
Mik Ferguson
I read this book earlier this year.

It is excellent and very challenging. I recommend this to anyone with the poor.

The principles are easier to put into place if there is an existing church in the area but are still very helpful for areas where there is not.

The chapters on understanding that poverty is more than material need, how to work with people (not doing it for them) and the understanding that social action is rooted in the good news of Jesus and God's desire that we all work if possible
...more
Caroline
A helpful, readable introduction to thinking carefully about how to approach poverty alleviation. The authors contend that many of the standard ways of "doing ministry" are actually harmful to the poor (increasing their shame and dependency) and to ourselves (building god complexes). Poverty alleviation should work with the goal to restore people in their relationships with themselves, others, God and creation so that they are able to glorify God by working and supporting themselves and their fa ...more
Sarah
Reading the title, I thought the concepts was giving until it hurt. Not so!: this is on giving without hurting yourself or the poor.

WHH presents the human needs for more than material wealth, and how the deficit in honest business resources and in personal dignity contribute the more to poverty. Until we attempt to fulfill these needs, we are, for the most part, making it worse when we enable with "relief" materials and stand-alone preaching. Relief materials are excellent for those facing disa
...more
Jane
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joshua Hedlund
The beginning of the book concisely explains the theology of why Christians should be helping the poor, tying it to general themes of God's redemption of the world and highlighting the ignoring of the poor as one of the oft overlooked but undeniably major reasons Israel went into exile. The rest of the book expounds upon how to help the poor. Right-leaning readers may like its insistence on overcoming incentives of dependency; left-leaning readers may like its insistence on overcoming superiorit ...more
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  • Compassion, Justice and the Christian Life: Rethinking Ministry to the Poor
  • Walking With the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development
  • Ministries of Mercy: The Call of the Jericho Road
  • Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity
  • Serving with Eyes Wide Open: Doing Short-Term Missions with Cultural Intelligence
  • Good News About Injustice: A Witness of Courage in a Hurting World
  • The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? the Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World
  • Let the Nations Be Glad!: The Supremacy of God in Missions
  • The Poor Will Be Glad: Joining the Revolution to Lift the World Out of Poverty
  • Adopted for Life: The Priority of Adoption for Christian Families and Churches
  • Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility
  • What is the Mission of the Church?: Making sense of social justice, Shalom and the Great Commission
  • Let Justice Roll Down
  • The Next Story: Life and Faith After the Digital Explosion
  • Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
  • Everyday Church: Gospel Communities on Mission
  • What's Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done
  • Too Small to Ignore: Why Children Are the Next Big Thing
The When Helping Hurts Small Group Experience From Dependence to Dignity: How to Alleviate Poverty through Church-Centered Microfinance From Dependence to Dignity: How to Alleviate Poverty Through Church-Centered Microfinance In Pursuit of Orphan Excellence When Helping Hurts SAMPLER: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself

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“Poverty alleviation occurs when the power of Christ's resurrection reconciles our key relationships through the transformation of both individual lives and local, national, and international systems.” 6 likes
“Until we embrace our mutual brokenness, our work with low-income people is likely to do more harm than good. I sometimes unintentionally reduce poor people to objects that I use to fulfill my own need to accomplish something. I am not okay, and you are not okay. But Jesus can fix us both.” 5 likes
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