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In some respects this book reminded me of Bonhoeffer's (1954) Life together: The classic exploration of faith in community ([1st ed.). NY: Harper. I realize die-hard Bonhoeffer fans may scoff at this (smile) but I think in intent, Perkins is calling us to recalibrate our thinking about the purpose of community development and the active role each has. Remember the context - 1992, post LA flames and looting. Perkins claimed, "It is time for us to prove that the purpose of the gospel is to reconcile alienated people to God and to each other, across racial, cultural, social and economic barriers" (p. 18). Perkins then proceeds to build his case by discussing vision, gospel, and the messengers.
A good read that fires you up for action within your community!
Perkins is as relevant today as when this was written. Deeply rooted in love and a robust Christology, Beyond Charity is a wise and heartfelt call to incarnate into the inner city and raise disciples there as Jesus did.
Dr. Perkins has an incredible amount of wisdom to share on the subject of Christian Community Development. This is a must-read book for all the church. It reveals the pitfalls of urban ministry and often selfish motivations of the those serving. It illustrates God's heart for the poor and how we are God's ambassadors for reconciliation through the Gospel. Grandpa Perkins as he is affectionately known truly love's the Lord with all his heart and love's his neighbor as himself.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on April 21, 2003
This book is a philosophy and outline for ministry among the American poor, emphasizing the role of God's people in moving beyond charity to uplifting ministry based on building relationships and program development within communities. The book is divided into three sections consisting of vision (for ministry that goes beyond charity), gospel (bridging theology with specific practices of ministry), and messenger (directed towards those considering a role in these types of ministry). Good: The book is founded on Perkins' years of personal experience and knowledge of social ministry in helping at-risk populations and improving neighborhoods. The stories he shares of ministry successes in Pasadena, CA and Mendenhall, MS are powerful and compelling, as are the numerous people he cites that have had similar successes. Also particularly useful are his six marks of an authentic church, his eight factors that create an environment of hope in communities, and his chapter on discerning God's will. Bad: Perkins has a definite anti-welfare and conservative political perspective, which is noticable in a few places. This is coupled with the fact that he is writing primarily to church-folk who are interested in church ministries, and leads to a total neglect of prescription for government involvement in the fight to reduce poverty and produce justice. Perkins needs to be more biblically-based in this regard - see Psalm 72. Lobbying for governmental involvement is important for impacting the structural base of poverty. Opinion: In spite of the one significant area of disagreement mentioned above, this is an invaluable handbook for Christian social ministry. I recommend it without reservation. Best Quote: I believe there is only one group of people in society who can overcome these obstacles [to solutions of urban poverty]. God's people have solutions that are qualitatively different from any other approach to the poor. The best that God's people have to offer is relationships with the poor that reflect the kind of careful, quality attention we have in our own families. This is the high quality of relationships offered by people seeking to "love their neighbor as themselves."
Dr. John Perkins is a living legend. He's the closest thing there is to an expert in Christian Community Development. This book is centered on the Gospel & our response to it. What a blessing it is to hear from this Godly man.
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on October 4, 2008
The subtitle of this John M. Perkins classic is 'The Call to Christian Community Development.' It is indeed a call, a charge for Christians to something different, something beyond hand outs and programs in the 'rough' neighborhoods of America.
In this 1993 book, Dr. Perkins presents his 3 R's of Christian Community Development. The first R (relocation) continues to lead many believers into the 'hood to minister and be ministered to.
This book is still relevant today. Well worth another visit even if you or your study group has read it before. Look at it with fresh eyes in this age of gentrification AKA reverse 'white flight.'
Christian community development is intentional. It hinges on interracial sensitivity, sincerity, interdependence, justice, and empowerment. Not on prosperity or personal/individual good, and other American ideals.
Listen. Learn. Love.
-- Linda Leigh Hargrove is the author of two works of fiction: The Making of Isaac Hunt (2007) and Loving Cee Cee Johnson (2008). Her writings blend suspense, humor, and faith into compelling stories about race and class in America. Comment
Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸 on August 24, 2009
I found this book easy to read, well organized, full of helpful examples and stories, and very practical. I recommend it to anyone interested in getting more involved in city/urban ministry. It would be a helpful book to also give students or newcomers to a ministry/church organization. Perkins does a great job giving a broad outline and 'plan' of sorts with specifics to flesh out his points. I have been challenged and have learned a lot.