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

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  334 ratings  ·  41 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published April 20th 2007 by Regal
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Sep 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Jana Jackson
Jun 26, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The book will make you totally rethink "helping the poor"
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ethics
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.
Lauren Putnam
Jun 11, 2020 rated it liked it
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.
Jeremiah Nguapha
May 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Elizabeth Ramos
Oct 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and thought provoking. A must-read for anyone wanting to 'make a difference' in their community.
Bekah Backman
Oct 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great examples of transformational work in America. Let's rethink how we relate to and help the poor.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"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
Phil Rushton
Feb 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Dec 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 25, 2016 rated it liked it
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 ...more
May 02, 2013 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: any Christian
Recommended to Kristen by: Doug Clapp
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.
Lyle Wenger
Jan 02, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.

May 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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!
Jan 02, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: social-justice
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.
Dr. Dena
Jun 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
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.
Rich Bergmann
Dec 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
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.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012-reads
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.
Jul 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 11, 2010 rated it liked it
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!
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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.
Aug 02, 2012 rated it liked it
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.
Dec 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
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.
Abby Schreiner
Oct 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
Jan 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Melanie by: Christ Central Church - Charlotte, NC
Shelves: nonfic
I picked this up as part of a discussion on poverty and community ministry being held by Christ Central Church in downtown Charlotte.
Apr 23, 2008 marked it as to-read
Recommended to Jenni by: John Liotti
Started reading it, but didn't of these days, I'll get back around to it.
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Bob Lupton is the founder and president of FCS Urban Ministries, a non-profit organization serving inner-city Atlanta, and is on the board of the Christian Community Development Association. He is a Vietnam veteran, has a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Georgia, and consults and lectures internationally on urban issues.

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