Archives for posts with tag: Dr. John Perkins

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.


This training institute in Christian community development begins Sunday evening, April 7 and will feature Dr. John Perkins, Coach Wayne Gordon, Noel Castellanos, Soong Chan-Rah and many more.

Immersion information and registration

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

Dear Salvation Army,

As we do the most good are we making the least difference?

We give away more toys, food, nights of lodging than the guy next door in America’s vast neighborhood of charitable organizations.  Overhead?  Fortune magazine commends us on our slim margin of cost; business people understand us.  Doing the most good.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But what difference are we making?

What we do, and we are good at it, is to keep doing what we’ve done before.  And that’s okay, as long as the world doesn’t change.

We have been trained to think in terms of service.  We can give someone daily bread or a night’s lodging.  We don’t think in terms of service that makes a difference.

Now in our busiest season, it’s likely next month’s reports will show Salvation Army has done more good than previous years.  We are tuned, wired to give away more, not less.  We are wired to ask the American public for more and we believe that the best way to steward it, be accountable for it, is by doing more.  Giving more.

kettleDr. John Perkins, founder of the Christian Community Development Association, likes to share this illustration.  He describes a river from which we are pulling drowning people as they float past us.  Then we have a flash of insight:  how are these people ending up in the river?  Go up stream to find out and do then something about that.drowning

Dr. Perkins says we can and we need to find out why people are drowning, hungry, without a home, without a safe neighborhood, credible schools, access to health care.

We need to find out why when you look at people and they look at you, you see eyes with dying hope, little faith, great pain.  We can see life fading.  Death near.  That is why we need to present the gospel, in word and in action.

So, a choice.  Do the most good?  Or do we make a difference?

Here’s my post on Bob Lupton’s presentation two years ago in Toronto on this subject.

I travel to Indianapolis tomorrow to attend the CCDA National Conference.

This will be my third time.  It’s a gathering of 3,000.  There will be 13 Salvation Army delegates from the Central Territory.  I’ve heard from one Southern Territory delegate.  If it’s like past conferences there will be other SA people.  Sharon Barber of our NHQ will host the Army’s display; come visit us at exhibit #26.  All of us from the Central will take turns helping Sharon.  Stop by and say hi.

I’ll be meeting with Brianna Menning of Communities First Association based in Minneapolis.  We’ve emailed about possible ways the Army and CFA can work together.  Of course, have to stop by the City Vision College exhibit to talk with Michael Liimatta from Kansas City.  Two City Vision interns presently serve at Salvation Army corps in Kansas City and St Louis; we are working on two more internships, in Detroit and another major city.

Christian community development is an approach Dr. John Perkins has described this way.  You are busy pulling people out of a river to save them from drowning.  But you finally realize that somewhere upstream they are falling/jumping/being pushed in.  You decide to go upstream to do something about it.

In the Salvation Army we do a pretty decent job of emergency assistance.  We feed, shelter, rescue.  But we are not good at going upstream to do something about why people do not have food, need shelter, have to be rescued.  Don’t misunderstand.  Feeding, sheltering and rescuing are good.  But is it doing the most good?

Salvation Army tends to be like McDonalds.  Remember those signs “1 billion served”?  Maybe the signs are still there.  With changing numbers.  We serve families at Christmas.  So, in typical Army fashion, we will serve more families next Christmas. 

What if the families stopped coming to us for toys and Christmas dinners?  That we had done something during the year to make it unnecessary for families to come stand in line, fill out applications, and come back a couple weeks later to stand in line to wait for a toy, a canned ham and a ‘God bless you’?

How many more will we need to serve?  Or can we start to work together with the communities where we are to bring change?  After all, us Salvationists would rather people not get wet. 

I’ll be posting from Indianapolis as the conference gets underway.

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