This is going to sound like an ad or some sort of “paid-for review.” I promise, it’s not. I’m just recommending a book (books) I think are phenomenal.

In my role at my church, there’s one book – now a bit of a series – that we recommend far more than any other. When Helping Hurts has become a true “modern classic,” known and loved by an enormous swath of “outreach guys” in various positions and places. The book details the underlying principles of serving people – particularly the poor – without harming them (or ourselves) in the process.

If your college ministry does anything with service (and oh boy I hope you do), then WHH (or something akin to it) should be a must-read (and a must-grasp) for you and any leaders directing that charge.

But the only tricky thing I’ve noticed about WHH is that it’s fairly thick… both in the number of pages and in the headiness of the topic. Neither of those things is bad or unnecessary. But it makes it tricky to, for example, make it required reading for mission trip participants, or to walk through it in a 6-week Bible study.

That’s why it’s been fun to see the Chalmers Institute (who puts this out) release a couple of new sorts of editions: When Helping Hurts: The Small Group Experience and Helping without Hurting in Short-Term MissionsBoth of these are designed for groups (the latter has a participant’s guide and a leader’s guide), along with supporting video and other interactive elements. So that’s a win, whether for your small groups or specifically for those jumping in to short-term mission trips. (And yes, these guys actually believe short-term trips can be done well and effectively.)

So that’s it. If you’re involved in service and not presently familiar, you should be. (And I bet the local Outreach Guy is already.)