What Christianity Today Missed

It’s not news: Getting a job is probably the most basic way to get out of poverty.

That’s why I’m amazed by the fact that in Christianity Today’s list of top 10 poverty alleviation strategies, only one directly involves job creation (microfinance).

See list below.

Chiflac Victor

  1. Get clean water to rural villages.
  2. Fund de-worming treatments for children.
  3. Provide mosquito nets.
  4. Sponsor a child.
  5. Give wood-burning stoves.
  6. Give a microfinance loan.
  7. Fund reparative surgeries.
  8. Donate a farm animal.
  9. Drink fair-trade coffee.
  10. Give a kid a laptop.

These solutions are critically important, but primarily address poverty’s symptoms instead of its root cause. They also emphasize what “we” can provide instead of recognizing that imported solutions rarely last.

Job creation is doing more than just treating poverty’s symptoms.  It challenges  the notion that the poor are helpless, powerless, and voiceless. 

With a job, the poor can work to provide for their families.  They can use their creativity and pursue their dreams.  And they can build a better world for their children.

At HOPE, we encourage business initiatives and share about the love of Christ.  We empower the poor to recognize their dignity in Christ.

But there are also many other Christ-centered organizations paving the way for job creation in the developing world.

Here are just a few top-notch Christ-centered organizations:

  1. The Chalmers Center.  Designing and teaching a biblically based business curriculum, The Chalmers Center empowers the poor to manage their money, save, and expand their businesses.  See http://www.chalmers.org/.
  2. Jobs for Life.   This great organization equips churches to teach basic skills necessary to find and maintain a job. See http://www.jobsforlife.org/affiliate-locations.htm.
  3. Sovereign’s Wealth Fund.  By investing in kingdom businesses, Sovereign’s Wealth Fund is helping to build a thriving middle class.   See http://www.slideshare.net/sovereigns/swfdeck.

I truly believe that Christ-centered business has the potential to change the world!  When we invest in individuals,  they, in turn, invest in their families—and in their communities.

Domestically and internationally, Christian organizations are lifting up the name of Jesus and carrying out the most basic form of poverty alleviation, helping the financially poor find a job.


  1. Peter B.
    February 29, 2012

    I agree with the value of providing jobs, but let’s not oversell what micro-finance can do:

    1. Peter K. Greer
      March 1, 2012

      You’re right. Microfinance has been overhyped, especially the promise that small loans are all it takes to lift a family out of poverty (see “Why I’m Getting Out of Microfinance” – http://www.peterkgreer.com/2011/07/20/why-i%E2%80%99m-getting-out-of-microfinance/). I’m an advocate for job creation and the many ways that this occurs. Also, I believe that the greatest untold story is that savings services are an unknown yet powerful tool in the fight against poverty (and I appreciate Roodman’s inclusion of this point). At HOPE, half of our clients don’t take out loans; they just save. (See in The Economist in Small Wonder: A new model of microfinance for the very poor is spreading – http://www.economist.com/node/21541429).

  2. Kevin Rutledge
    February 29, 2012

    You are correct that Christ centered valuing of the human being and providing opportunities for personal growth is an important part of the process of alleviating poverty, but I also fearthatyou are lifting that part to encompass the whole. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs fits well here. When one is fighting illness themselves from water born disease or the effects of hunger ther is little energy or ability to focus on business ventures.

    1. Amy Sterling
      March 3, 2012

      With respect, Kevin, this response overestimates the incapacity of people to care for themselves. Indeed, it is impossible and cruel to expect people jammed into refugee camps with inadequate food and water to immediately create businesses and get to work. But far fewer people are in these situations internationally. Instead, they are in stagnant situations, able to subsist, or perhaps do some things, but not others. I know directly only about lower-income people here in the U.S. The way many of our cities and some rural areas trap people with a poor educational system, poor transportation, and few opportunities is the source of so much frustration and unhappiness. How difficult would it be to change hearts and minds about whether it is best to “provide” basic needs and nothing else, or to focus on welcoming people as part of our complete society? That’s what I believe it is all about.

  3. Dave Larson
    February 29, 2012

    Amen, Peter.

    I was extremely disappointed in this CT article. Definitely lacked a practitioner’s perspective…and really missed the boat that the best job creation strategies are those that enable people to earn a living.

  4. […] The Coming Jobs War. Yesterday a friend sent the post by Peter K. Greer of Hope Int’l.  (http://www.peterkgreer.com/2012/02/23/what-christianity-today-missed/). Greer does a great job making the case of the need for jobs. This conversation is taking flight. […]

  5. jaime
    March 1, 2012

    Boy, I can’t believe CT is in the socialist tank! I mean, it’s one thing to create a list like that and call it charity, but it’s another thing to say it’s the way out of poverty! I am so glad you posted this!!

  6. […] Greer, president and CEO of HOPE International, has written an excellent response to this article. Read an excerpt of his response […]

  7. Mark Andrew Ritchie
    February 17, 2015

    This is standard fare for typical academics, the likes of which write and edit CT. It is not their fault that they do not understand poverty. They have never lived in it. If they had, they would understand that fair trade coffee does not quite compare to a productive job. So let us not be too hard on them. But let us continue to call those of us who believe in productivity to do our best to provide opportunities for anyone God brings across our paths.


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