Essay on An Ecclesiological Response to Poverty: Sometimes Charities Hurt

Essay on An Ecclesiological Response to Poverty: Sometimes Charities Hurt

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It seems that virtually every church either operates ministry or at least financially supports a ministry that is for those who are in a season of poverty. It goes without question that giving to those in need is accepted as an inherently good cause, but it seems that few ever question the outcome and impact of the money that is donated. Historically the church has been a central institution in providing food, shelter, money, and transportation to those who are in need. Regardless, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, 15 percent of the United States citizens are at or under the poverty level, a number that has remained the same since 1965. Churches have worked at addressing the issue in various ways, some more logical than others, some more successful than others, and some more damaging than others. For the remainder of this paper, I will be focusing on particularly the people and churches of North America, particularly in the 21st century, rather than antiquity.
The term poverty is a term of comparison, and whenever it is used, it is important to ask the question “in comparison to whom?” Take myself for example, I live in an apartment with more space than I need, I have food whenever I need it, I have a heated bed, a 40” TV, a fancy laptop, keep multiple aquariums, have more clothes than I ever wear, have a car with heat and AC, . To a vast majority of the world, I am disgustingly rich, as I experience discomfort only when I eat something that I shouldn’t have, or if my roommates turn the thermostat up or down three degrees, and I don’t know what it means to truly need something. However at the same time, to some of the world, and even to some of my own country, I have very little. I don’t own a home, I don’t have a kitchen, I ...


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...n Helping Hurts : How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor... and Yourself. Chicago: Moody Publishers.
Families USA. "Federal Poverty Guidelines." Families USA: The Voice for Health Care Consumers. Families USA, accessed 12/15/2013, 2013, http://www.familiesusa.org/resources/tools-for-advocates/guides/federal-poverty-guidelines.html.
Forks Over Knives. Netflix. Directed by Lee Fulkerson. Monica Beach Media, 2011.
Lupton, Robert D. 2011. Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt those they Help (and how to Reverse it). New York: HarperCollins.
Sider, Ronald J. 1999. Just Generosity. Grand Rapids: Baker Books.
———. 1997. Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger: Moving from Affluence to Generosity. 4th ed. Dallas: Word Publishing.
Sider, Ronald J. and Heidi Unruh eds. 2007. Hope for Children in Poverty : Profiles and Possibilities. Valley Forge: Judson Press.

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