The Seeds of Change: A Missions Minister Shares Four Tips for the Charity Detox Process

Four Things Jeff Reams, Missions Minister at Dunwoody Baptist and a Veteran Detoxifier, Would Say To You About Beginning the Process of Change

You’ve read “Toxic Charity” and been stirred by the vision to see transformation happen in lives and communities. 

Perhaps you’ve been convicted that your current mission efforts need some ‘detoxifying.’

But, where do you begin?   

I am a Missions Pastor at a church trying to do so much that it makes my head spin most days.  So I feel your pain.  After I read Toxic Charity I found myself both inspired and frustrated.  The book captured thoughts and feelings I had been having for a long time but never felt equipped to confront. 

For the past year or so we have been sharing the vision and gradually making changes. 

Here are 4 things I suggest to anyone asking “now what:”


You may be eager to act but take time to seek the Lord.  Ask God to show you were to begin and with whom you need to talk.  Ask God to give you patience and wisdom for the road ahead.  You will need humility as you meet with people for whom these ideas seem strange and perhaps even “non-Christian.”  You will need courage as you may meet opposition and uncertainty.  Non-Toxic, relational, long term mission can be messy and complex.

Sow seeds of change.

Hand out copies of the book (Bob did not pay me to say that) to your leaders.  Meet for coffee to discuss what they read and how it might impact what you are doing together. 

Bring in speakers from your community to teach on topics of Toxic Charity. This way you don’t have to be the bad guy wanting to change everything with all these new fangled ideas!

Network with ministries in your community who are doing mission in healthy ways.  Find out what churches are experimenting with new benevolence methods.  Get your people around leaders and ministries doing it differently so that they can see it first hand.

Build bridges. 

You want to know that your efforts in mission are actually making a difference.  Remember that your leaders likely feel the same way.  It’s just that they are doing what has always been done. 

The shared desire to really make a difference can be a connection point in conversations about change.  Some people will not be able to change their mindset or methods.  Some will be invested in the status quo.  But, if you can establish a point of agreement early on with as many people as possible then that will build trust that you are not out to control, micro-manage, or change things simply because you read a new book.

Develop a plan

Working with your leaders you will begin to see if you can make big changes quickly or small changes over time.

You will have to determine what works best for you and the culture of your ministry.   But, start somewhere.  Your leaders know you have read the book and are hoping to implement changes.  If you are not serious about it, you can not expect them to be either.  The inertia of the status quo is very strong.

Change can be overwhelming.  But for you, a switch has been thrown that can not be reversed.  You want to see God’s kingdom come and his will be done on earth as in heaven.  You want to see his Church own the mission and dive in deeply, not just volunteer, donate, and give when it is convenient and in ways that make us feel better.

Be encouraged.  More and more people believe like you and are experimenting with new and exciting ideas.  God’s kingdom is growing.  His Body is engaging. 

And as you take the steps listed above, we’d love to hear your stories.  Check back in and share what you are learning as you detoxify your charity…


Posted on November 3, 2014 .