If you have been involved in Parkway’s missions outside our church doors over time, you will have noticed a change in approach, if not entirely in strategy. For the past several years, we have sought, as much as possible, to engage in ministry to others in such a way that we “help without hurting.”

Our missions leadership has been heavily influenced by two seminal works on this subject, When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett, and Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help (and How to Reverse It) by Robert Lupton. If you haven’t read these books, I recommend them to you, but to get a gist of the principles involved you can watch videos at Chalmers.org.

We have learned that it is much more helpful to people if you take an “asset-based” approach, recognizing that everyone, including the materially poor, has something to bring to the table, and their dignity is preserved and the results of assistance are longer-lasting if this is built into a church’s approach to missions.

We have further discovered that the most important aspect of any missions endeavor is building relationships. No matter how beneficial a project might be to a community, its impact is always outweighed by relationships across cultures and experiences that last over time. Both those who “go” and those who “stay” benefit from this approach.

As we have sought ministry partners with whom to pool our efforts, we have chosen groups and missions that support and encourage a “helping without hurting” approach. In our own community, three such organizations are Norcross Cooperative Ministry, Rainbow Village, and the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. Each of these very worthy endeavors values the contributions of those whom they seek to help, and place higher priority on relationships over projects. They do not take the typically American approach of throwing money at problems.

Nevertheless, in order to do their best work money is definitely required. One of the assets that the materially poor do not have, by definition, is money. If they are to become self-sufficient someone has to invest financial, as well as relational, capital in their futures. These three organizations use the money that they receive prudently and effectively, but they do need money.

We are currently emphasizing these local missions through our Spring Missions Offering. Our goal is $20,000, with 60% going to Norcross Cooperative Ministry, 20% to Rainbow Village, and 20% to the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Georgia. All of us involved in missions would love to get you more involved in the hands-on work of helping others. We’d be glad to talk to you about the way you could use your unique gifts in God’s work. But one thing each of us can do, at some level, is contribute money. I’m asking you to give generously to this offering so that we can continue to help without hurting.