Why Donating a Turkey Dinner (or a Toy Basket) Can Do More Harm Than Good

Why Donating a Turkey Dinner (or a Toy Basket) Can Do More Harm Than Good Hero Image

Can charity be toxic?

If you heard Todd’s messages on Economics recently, you heard him tell us, the Church, that it’s our responsibility to help our neighbors in need – not by just “giving them stuff,” but by helping them work their way out of poverty through relationship, love, and the power of the gospel.

This message comes at a time (the holidays) when many people, both Christians and non-Christians, will give money, food, and gifts to those in need. But can charity actually be harmful?

It can, and here’s why.

When we give to people outside the context of relationship, we risk telling them that they aren’t capable of a better life, that they have to depend on others, and that we don’t have time to develop a relationship with them. It also increases the divide between the “haves” and “have-nots.”

Are we really helping if we leave our friends with a full stomach but without dignity or hope for a better future?

Love is something more stern and splendid than mere kindness. – C.S. Lewis

It’s tempting to “check the box” at the holidays by giving a turkey dinner or a toy basket to an anonymous individual. But our call is so much bigger. Our struggling neighbors are in desperate need of faith, family, and community. We are called to walk with them in relationship – sharing our hope and faith with them, helping restore dignity and value in their lives through the power of the Christ. Isaiah 58:10 tells us to “spend ourselves” for those in need. It’s a messy proposition, but the only one that offers lasting hope and restoration to a broken world.

So if you’re looking to serve or give this holiday season, find a place where you’ll get an opportunity to build relationships that go beyond meeting physical needs. Or at the very least, make sure to give to ministries that have established strong relationships with those they serve. (See all of our partners’ opportunities at watermark.org/holidayserve – posting later this week!)

We have so many great ministry partners here locally that understand the importance of relationship and community when it comes to giving. Whether it’s counseling a young woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy or mentoring a kid in West Dallas, there are a ton of opportunities to share your hope and faith in lasting, meaningful ways – now and all year long.

Photo Credit: GeneralMills via Compfightcc

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