Archives for posts with tag: Bob Lupton

Dr. John Perkins, Bob Lupton and CCDA Regional Conference come to Grand Rapids MI the first weekend in March at the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and Cornerstone University.

Theme:  Leverage

Regional Conference

For more information visit the Leverage Conference website.


If you are a Salvation Army person deep into toys, food baskets, and kettles you may gasp at Pride for Parents.  Is this a valid alternative to the way we do Christmas in America?  Could it work for the Army?

Xmas tree

Also from Bob Lupton’s Urban Perspectives, worth reading Blessed are the Poor for theirs is the Kingdom (a tribute to Eddie)

before I go rushing in to rescue a poor person, to save him from an impending crisis resulting from unwise decisions, perhaps I should ask “Who needs rescuing here?” Does my comfortable, stable, orderly lifestyle afford me a safe and elevated platform from which to judge (or misjudge) lesser ones? Could the financial security which I have worked so diligently to accumulate actually prevent me from experiencing a life of true faith? Does my “good common sense” (or middle class achiever values) make me blind to the Kingdom, the Kingdom Christ said would be harder for a rich man to enter than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle?

Bob Lupton is one of my favorites.  I agree with him.  I disagree with him.  Regardless, he inspires and challenges. bob_lupton

Here’s his most recent Urban Perspectives blog, about Capitalism and the Kingdom.  You might also want to check out his Atlanta based Focused Community Strategies.

The Salvation Army prides itself on doing the most good.  Here is a dissenting view reported by the Kansas City Star.

It is a type of view we are hearing more and more of these days.  I believe that from a community development perspective it has merit.  Bob Lupton’s Toxic Charity is rightfully challenging a number of Salvation Army leaders to a new macro-perspective of charity.  This is a good healthy challenge.

However, several years ago at a CCDA conference I listened to Dr. John Perkins temper any criticism of offering a cold drink in the name of Jesus by publicly affirming what the Army does.  He said unambiguously that there also is merit in the Army’s direct service.  charity condemned

There is one aspect critics are missing.  When all is said and done, when we have practiced theoretical correctness with this latest new discovery on how to do urban ministry. there yet remain individuals who do not respond at the time or in the situation to the effort and resources we invest in a community development approach.  We have failed.  But they are still hungry, cold, without a friend.  And often threatened by worse, in danger.

Does a person need to develop a friend-capacity before we befriend them?  Ridiculous.  The grace of God extended through the action of his people, just as God extended himself through his Son sent into and given to the world, gives opportunity for response, to receive.  So it is with home, food, warmth.  Personal safety.  There are times and they are more frequent than we like to think so when we simply have to offer a cold drink, clothing, a jail visit.  Community development is effective but it has its limits as to what can be done just as there are limits to offering direct service to meet human needs. 

What it comes down to is this.  It isn’t a matter of either community development or direct service.  It is a matter of knowing when to engage in one or the other.  We need to ask after rendering direct service whether we can do something about the causes of that need we’ve just met.  And quite often before we begin to develop a community there are hungry, homeless, friendless people who need food, shelter and God’s people. condemned 3

Dr. Perkins uses the illustration of pulling people out of the river as they float downstream, saving them from drowning.  Then we ask ‘what’s going on upstream?’  Community development is going upstream to find out why they are ending up in the stream, and doing something about it. 

We help when people are in a situation of need.  And we need to help people find ways to avert those situations. 

So, is it direct service or community development? 


charity condemned 2

Can institutions change?  If so, how?

Bob Lupton’s book Toxic Charity is generating discussion within Christian community development circles, churches, charitable organizations.  And in the Salvation Army.

Several months ago Lupton wrote “On Changing an Institution“.  You might find it a helpful accompaniment to Toxic Charity.  I like “it begins with one decisive step in the right direction.”

It’s true.  Usually it all looks just too daunting.  Causing us to never take action.  But if we can figure out one small action, step that will start us moving in the right direction, and then act, we are then closer than we were to the place we believe we ought be.

If they had been thinking of the land that they had left behind, they would have had opportunity to return.   But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.  Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed, he has prepared a city for them.  (Hebrews 11:15-16)

Did you know that Bob Lupton’s book is now the most talked about book among Salvation Army people?

I mentioned Toxic Charity when it was published.  Don LaMar and I attended Lupton’s Toxic Charity workshop at the CCDA conference last October in Minneapolis.  I thanked Bob after his presentation.  He had a big grin on his face.  A big complex grin.bob lupton

Bob is a friend of the Army.  He pokes us with a sharp stick in the book’s chapter on Kroc Centers.  Some of his observations are not totally accurate.

But poking we do need.  I think that is what catches our attention.  We are people who want to do the most good and we are eager to find out from someone with the cred of a Bob Lupton how better to do so.

Here’s Eleanor Shepherd’s goodreads page rating Toxic Charity.  Colonel Eleanor will be a guest with her husband Glen at CBLI this July.  You’ll have to find a paper copy of the Army’s national publication War Cry to see Lupton’s book recommended by Lt. Colonel Joan Canning who serves as Director of the Salvation Army World Service Office.  I think Major Marc Johnson was the first who I heard mention how the book had challenged him.  There are others reading and discussing it including Jason Pope who has an Atlanta association with Bob.

What does it mean, our fascination with Lupton’s tenets of community development?

It could mean that The Salvation Army in America is beginning to examine the quality of its results in bringing change to the communities it serves.  We have been good at quantitative results.  Numbers of food baskets given.  Nights of lodging provided.  Attendances at open gym programs.  Knees of praying penitents at the altar.  Fortune magazine and the American business community love it.  But now more Salvationists are looking at systemic changes as what our work needs to address.  Justice.   Development of communities.  Are they stronger places as a result of our work?  Is our work guided by Lupton’s Oath for Helpers?

In a few weeks Gail and I will team teach community development at our conference for developing youth leaders.  We were pleasantly surprised to find it one of the workshops with the most registrants.  A sign?

Oh, and yes.  I’ve read Bob’s book, too.

Time to pack.  I’m still using that blue Andiamo duffel I picked up in 1991.  It’s like an old friend.  Dependable and predictable as to what it will allow of me.

Fact is that I was in the Twin Cities last weekend, a good three days with Salvation Army people of our Lakewood Temple Corps located in Maplewood MN.  Leaders who are eager to serve their world, particularly the worlds of urban and young people.  Gail and I presented on these subjects.  Thank you, Christina Tamayo and Majors Jim and Candy Curl for the opportunity.

Now, to the Hilton Minneapolis for this evening’s start of the Christian Community Development Association’s national conference.  I am always inspired by the CCDA conference.  Great speakers in the evening plenary sessions (open to the public).  Local musicians featured, too.  And will the Chicago based band Foster be back?  Hope so.

This year we did not promote conference participation of Salvation Army people via scholarships as we’ve done the past two years.  Next year we hope to do so again.  But I’ll see Andres Villatoro, Envoy Don Lamar and Sharon Barber today.  Also, Arike Mason with two of her young people participating in the National Student Leadership Intensive.  Any other SA folks at CCDA?

I am reading Bob Lupton‘s Toxic Charity which he will present in a workshop I plan to attend.  Excellent book.  Bob’s critique on Salvation Army Kroc Centers:  ouch.  Is he fair?  Is he well-informed?  I feel Bob would know more if he were privy to conversations ongoing between Army leaders.

The Krocs are a story in progress.  Bob’s vision of focusing on outcomes rather than activity (or we could say outputs) is not foreign to all Kroc leadership.  Yes, some are yet primarily output-focused.  But there is a developing sense of focusing our activity for long-term impact in the community.  For instance, at the Grand Rapids MI Kroc led by Major Marc Johnson.  But I will admit that the concept of a focused strategy is often in tension with the Army’s tendency to operate in a general way, for which we often could rightly be taken to task by voices such as Lupton’s.

So, the question may be this:  how will it all turn out?

A crisis requires emergency intervention;
       A chronic problem requires development.
Address a crisis need with a crisis intervention,
       And lives are saved.
Address a chronic need with a crisis intervention,
       And people are harmed.

Bob Lupton writes this in his latest blog and it should make us Salvation Army people wince, get defensive, and listen up.  Read more about Chronic or Crisis.

Bob Lupton will be the featured presenter at the CCDA Cafe in Marion IN.  The event will take place at the College Wesleyan Church on Saturday, April 15, 9:30 – 4:00; cost is $10.00. 

Bob is the author of Toxic Charity and has served in urban mission for a long time.  I have appreciated his challenge to those of us inclined to more traditional approaches.

Do you work for The Salvation Army?  Do you ever ‘do intake’, ‘interview clients’, ‘run the food pantry’?  Know someone who does?

What happens when Jesus shows up for help?  Read one scenario suggested this week by Bob Lupton.

Several years ago many American Christians found WWJD.  What would Jesus do if we gave him a referral?

%d bloggers like this: