A letter from Common Good executive director, Sarah Binos, introducing our March newsletter.
How do we make sure that our response to people that are in need is not doing more harm than good? As Christians our hearts are often in the right place but because we haven’t fully thought about the long-term consequences of our actions, or because we so often get involved based upon our own preconceived notions and ideas without having true knowledge of the person or situation involved, we can do harm.
Our March newsletter is all about how we can learn how to first do no harm. It’s a very helpful read with some useful principles around how we can make sure that our “doing social justice” isn’t toxic.
Recently, I’ve been grappling with the question of how we as Christians involved in social justice should be and act differently to those working in secular development agencies. I’ve been feeling sad about the fact that so much of the work that has been done in Africa and around the world in the name of development has failed. Surely as Christians there must be an approach that would result in more of God’s Kingdom coming?
The majority of us know that part of following Christ involves loving and serving vulnerable people, but we often get stuck when it comes to how we’re supposed to do this, especially in light of the fact that we so often get it wrong.
We need to begin by understanding the fundamental differences between what it means to be a Christian doing social justice in comparison to the world doing it. In Robert Lupton’s book “Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help”, he proposes a very sound “Oath for Compassionate Service” for the charity industry to adopt, much as the medical community has adopted the Hippocratic Oath.