When Christian giving corrupts

Sometimes damage is done by well-meaning Christians giving their money in the wrong places.

Example: if a church planting movement is dependent on outside funds to pay their church planters, there is a natural (financial) limitation as to how many church planters can be involved. This will limit the growth of what is going on.

Some friends of ours in India encouraged all their local church planters (those not traveling to train others) to find a business that could support them and offered to help them get started.  Unfortunately, other Western ministries came in and offered the church planters money to work with them instead.  Effectively these people were "bought" by Western money. The churches they planted  now counted towards the "success" of the ministry that paid them.

Giving can be a hand out or a hand up. It's the old picture of give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Now obviously there are some situations in which a person has no hope without a hand out, but there are many more where training in a skill would equip him to earn a living. 

We lived in the East End of London for more than 15 years. In those days 92% of the housing was govenment funded. Many of the people who lived there had been on welfare for generations. A government handout had imprisoned the people in a life of poverty and dependence. Compare this, for example, to the microfinancing initiatives of Grameen Bank in Bangladesh which has transformed the lives of the women of that nation.

We need great wisdom from the Lord as to where our finances should go. 

Any ideas?

7 replies on “When Christian giving corrupts”

I think micro-loans work well. We’ve been using them in Haiti for years, and the people are planting churches like crazy down there. It’s a tremendous way to empower people w/o having to manipulate them. DM me @theradicalway if you want more details.

“…there are many more where training in a skill would equip him to earn a living.” Not only that, but the immeasurable skills of character we learn from hard work equip us for all spheres of life! I have not yet read much of your writings, but I think you’re probably familiar with “When Helping Hurts” by Corbett & Fikkert. Same idea, well-developed and supported with examples.

Jonathan, sorry for the delay in getting back to you–we were in Mexico. Yes, they were bi-vocational. They were encouraged to start a business like a fruit stand, or selling eggs. The network that did this has 4 levels of leaders. The local house church leaders and those that trained them in a defined geographic area were all expected to be bi-vocational. They were given time and help to develop their business. Those that worked across borader areas that required extensive travel whether regionally or internationally continued to be supported.

Hello Felicity. Thanks for this article. I recently discovered The first online microcredit organization in which many christians are involved. What a wonderful thing. Lend your 25 US, get it back and relend that very same money again ! A circle of blessing for many among the poor who want to work for a better life. But… did you know that Kiva now also started to give out those loans to americans in Detroit !

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