Beth, Bethany, and I had the pleasure to have our second Lunch & Learn with Joe Johns and Becky Baker of Fellowship Missionary Church last Wednesday. We had a great discussion while enjoying Las Lomas Mexican restaurant.
Toxic Charity, written by Robert D. Lupton, served as the starting place for our conversation. We have found the information presented to be useful as learning how to better love our neighbors is the focal point of NeighborLink. If you are unfamiliar with the book, Toxic Charity challenges the American ideology of service. Our society has a tendency to readily give away food, money, toys, along with other resources, but does not always consider longer-term solutions. This is a concept that is expanded upon in more detail throughout this book. If you are interested in learning more, additional information can be found here.
Our conversation with Joe & Becky started out by debriefing Fellowship’s steps to try to incorporate the ideas from the book Toxic Charity in their own church. The process has been long but they have made significant progress over the last few years. For example, they transformed their Christmas ministry by creating a discounted toy store they call, “A Christmas Story”. Instead of giving away toys and clothes to families over the Christmas holiday, they opened up a Christmas store where families could come in to handpick presents for their kids. It was a shift from free handouts to empowerment. People were still able to fully participate in the holiday in a way they normally would, but at an affordable price for their current situation.
After all Joe & Becky had to share about Toxic Charity, one thing became clear to me. Transformation takes time. It’s hard to change your mindset on how service works. I know my first instinct in many situations is to just give things that might help (money, food, etc.). Sometimes though, we need to look at how our actions will affect someone in the long run. Sometimes, we need to be willing to put in a little extra time and effort to help our fellow neighbor.
Thanks Joe & Becky for giving us some insight on how to better serve our community! We are incredibly thankful for your open hearts and willingness to share.
Bethany, Beth, & Holly