Home News Faith-Based Development: How Christian Organizations Can Make a Difference

Faith-Based Development: How Christian Organizations Can Make a Difference

With a foreword by Bryant L. Myers

International development work is a largely secular discipline that distances itself from faith concerns; even many faith-based groups seem to go out of their way to minimize the relationship between their religious convictions and their work. Secular groups often see faith-based agencies as “irritating marginal players” in the global development scene. But what if much of the value of these groups is exactly the result of that sense of religious mission?

Mitchell posits that, contrary to popular perception, church organizations have long been major players in international development work, and that many of these organizations do take the relationship between their work and the faith that underpins it very seriously. Instead of apologizing for their faith roots and expression, they should celebrate them and recognize the value they bring to every development enterprise, secular or not.

This book has arisen out of Bob’s PhD thesis on faith-based development organizations. It has been about 10 years in the making and includes vast research based on interviews with people in communities all over the developing world.

With endorsements from Jayakumar Christian, Steve Bradbury and Paul Madden AM, this book aims to fill the gap in the area of evidence-based research about the difference that Christian faith-based development organizations can make.

In this short video, Bob Mitchell talks about the reasons he wrote this important book:


“This book is a key contribution to the academic and applied literature on Faith Based Organisations (FBOs) and development. FBOs are an important part of the puzzle in responding to 21st century development challenges and in attaining the sustainable development goals. Faith-based Development is a potential benefit to Christian FBOs around the world, encouraging them to reclaim their identity in their efforts to bring social transformation and development. This book clearly outlines these themes in an engaging and easy-to-read fashion.”

A/Prof Nathan Grills, Nossal Institute for Global Health, University of Melbourne

“This is a long needed book: a clear headed, widely researched and no holds barred engagement with the role of faith in faith-based development organisations. Bob Mitchell’s competence in drawing development theory and practice, theology, and organisational governance into a comprehensive study is an outstanding gift. Key questions such as ‘What makes a faith-based organisation, faith-based?’ and ‘What does it matter?’ are unflinchingly and sensitively addressed. A feature of the book is its case-based analysis of diverse geographical and cultural contexts. This analysis provides a solid platform on which matters of religious belief and motivation, and their place in aid and development are assessed. This scholarly work issues a challenge to the development profession, heavily influenced as it is by modernity, to respectfully engage communities who gain their meaning from religion. Faith-based Development will not disappoint: an essential read for all those concerned for social transformation.”

Archbishop Philip Freier, Primate, Anglican Church of Australia

“The book Faith-based Development has come at an important time in the history of the humanitarian industry – a ‘kairos’ moment as some would refer to it. Even as the highly secularised humanitarian industry, discovers the critical role of religion, faith based organisations are discovering the power of faith and faith actors.  The author sensitively lays out a business case as to why faith based organisations are more than a mere instrument that can be co-opted into the humanitarian industry.  Bob argues that faith is not incidental but essential for any sustainable solutions to poverty.  The book provides a good mix of theology, church history and analysis of contemporary issues within the humanitarian industry – a sound foundation for any student in developing a theology of development.”

Jayakumar Christian, Partnership Leader, Faith & Development, World Vision International; author of God of the Empty Handed

“University degrees have taught me what to do, practical experience has helped me know how to do it, but never have I been challenged in this way as a Christian to understand why I do this work. This book takes a fresh look at how Christian agencies play a unique role in international development because of their faith. Mitchell drills straight to the core of the Christian development worker, exposes their heart and deepest motivations, and challenges us to ask why our faith really matters in our work.”

Chey Mattner, Executive Secretary, Australian Lutheran World Service

“Towards the end of this timely and important book the author makes a prophetic appeal to Christian faith-based development organisations to be “faithfully-based organisations”. Faith-Based Development is a compelling and astute examination of what this means and why it is so critical. A book for all serious students of development, it should be required reading for staff and board members of Christian faith-based development organisations intent on understanding the challenges and embracing the opportunities that confront us in these times.”

Steve Bradbury, Director of the Micah 6:8 Centre, Eastern College Australia

“In the complex world of faith-based NGOs, nailing the colors of Christian identity and expression to the mast is no simple matter, yet, when we fail to do so we abandon what is most precious, unifying and powerful.  In this brilliant book, Faith-Based Development, Bob Mitchell provides both a context and compass for those leaders who seek to authentically integrate the work they do with the faith which can so powerfully motivate and sustain it.”

Paul Madden AM, Chair, World Relief Australia

“It remains a puzzle why secular aid agencies and faith-based organisations struggle so often to speak a common language when they have such similar goals (and often histories!). Mitchell’s valuable book demonstrates the rich lessons that Christian aid agencies can provide and possible points of connection between the secular and the spiritual in the search to a more just world.”

Professor Matthew Clarke, Head of School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Deakin University

Where to buy

You can buy Faith-Based Development: How Christian Organizations Can Make a Difference from Garratt Publishing.


Comments are closed.