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Live Like You Give A Damn: Join the Changemaking Celebration by Tom Sine: A Book Review


Product Details

Tom Sine explains the provocative title in his introduction with a story of  eating in a restaurant priding itself on “serving only local, sustainable food.” He noticed  staff wearing shirts with the slogan “Eat Like You Give a Damn!” He said, “That’s it! I need to ‘Live Like I Give a Damn.” To do this he took 3 steps: volunteered to get “out of the bleachers and back on the field of play”; joined “those committed to empowering a new generation of changemakers”; and decided “to change to become a more authentic follower of the radical way of Jesus” by listening more closely to God, to others (particularly youth trying to change the world in innovative ways), and being disciplined in his use of time and resources. This book is an expression of #2 above. (p. 10)

This is the latest book (2016) to join the dozen plus books listed on Amazon authored or co-authored by Tom Sine. This futurist looks at the church, not just to project current trends, but to imagine new possibilities. He envisions what can be if the promise of the gospel is taken from pews into neighborhoods of our communities by those who choose to “Live Like You Give a Damn.” For those who accept his challenge, he sees celebratory joy, peace, and new sense of community with fellow-travelers. Without changes, he wonders if the church in North America, Europe, and Australasia has much of a future.

He takes his cue from the Millennial Generation and its interest in living to make a difference, whether through volunteerism or what he calls “social entrepreneurism” – sustainable businesses making real differences in the lives of people by making a better society. Many of the dozens whose work he reports in this book are not Christian (though some are). In looking at these, he challenges Christians to do the same, but to mix that spirit with the love and grace of Jesus.

Tom writes with passion in a “stream of consciousness” style. The book is not carefully edited, as he frequently repeats himself. He “has a gift for new suggestive phrasing that helps us see afresh.” (Walter Brueggermann, in the Forward, p. xvii) As examples, Brueggermann gives these:

  • Changemaking celebration.
  • The gift of disorientation.
  • Dreaming and scheming.
  • The future you want to inhabit.
  • The age of imagination.

There are others like these in the eight chapters including an introduction that sets the stage and maps his course ahead, a final chapter renewing his challenge to the reader to imagine what the future church could be if we truly began to Live Like You Give A Damn in a way that will bring youth back who are deserting the church because they see no authenticity, but only commitment to tradition and dogma, with six chapters in between in which he challenges us to:

  • Ignite Our Imaginations Today to Create Our Best Tomorrows
  • Anticipate New Opportunities to Create our Best Tomorrows Today
  • Choose a Changemaking Purpose Today for All Our Tomorrows
  • Imagine New Community Empowerment Today to Create Our Best Neighborhoods Tomorrow
  • Imagine New Social Enterprises Today to Create Our Best Tomorrows
  • Imagine Living on Purpose Today to Create Your Best Life Tomorrow (from the Contents)

Each chapter has group exercises for those interested in doing what he suggests. Thus, this can be a “hands on,” practical book.

Theologically, this book shows strong influence and quotations from Walter Bruggermann and N.T. Wright, scholars in the Old Testament and New Testament respectfully. Socially, he is inspired by the activism of Jim Wallis, whom he also cites. Most of social inspiration, however, comes from those in Gen X and Gen Y and their youthful enthusiasm for making a difference that betters the world.

I do see some weaknesses in this readable, short volume (206pp including 10 pp of Bibliography with 181 entries).

First, he whets a taste for change with examples of things being done by change makers around the world – but does not give enough information about these for us to be truly inspired by them to make real changes. Most examples receive only a few sentences.

Second, an index would be useful, especially when making reference to previous examples by saying “Remember….” Unfortunately, my memory is not photographic, and without at least a page reference I am unable to refresh my memory easily.

Third, at times he appears to be seeking change for the sake of change. I believe change is necessary, but also recognize that not all change is beneficial. In biology, nearly all mutations are harmful. The same can also be true in sociology and ecclesiology.

Fourth, he preaches a social gospel of activism in which even the activity of unbelievers is taken as evidence of the moving of the Spirit of God and that those activists are living the gospel of God’s kingdom. It is certainly true that Jesus said “the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8, ESV). There is nothing wrong per se in looking at what non-Christians are accomplishing to make a better world, or even in joining them in their enterprises for good (see Philippians 4:8). Yet, to fail to do these things in the name of our Lord does little to promote the knowledge of the glory of God in the world.

I recommend this as a sourcebook that can challenge imagination and lift our eyes to opportunities yet undreamed. Without shaking up the imagination and the practice of the church, there is likely to be little change. After all, as some wise person said, “Insanity is doing the same as you have always done but expecting a different result.” Most will agree the church needs different results. So why do we keep doing the same things? In this book Tom Sine attempts to shake us out of our rut into doing different things that will bring better, eternal results.

Note: I received this book with the understanding I would publish a review on this blog. I was not told what to say. This review is my honest opinion with no further consideration. – Jerry Starling

A Reminder in a Tumultuous Election Year


In this tumultuous election year, all Christians need to ponder Isaiah 33:22. “For the LORD is our judge; the LORD is our lawgiver; the LORD is our king; he will save us.”

Note that the LORD is all three branches of government, as defined Continue reading

Are Fractured Churches Necessary?


(18) For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you.  (19) And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized.

– 1 Corinthians 11:18-19 (ESV)

Is verse 19 facetious? Do we really have to have factions in the church so we can recognize who is genuine and accepted by God?

Or is Continue reading

Where Is Your Allegiance?


….Their mind is on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven…. –Paul, Philippians 3:20b-21a, NIV.

A few months ago, I saw some articles about a movement among some Protestant congregations to put a Christian flag in a place of prominence over the flag of the United States, contrary to the protocol of always displaying the Stars and Stripes in the preeminent place: on a pole, it is the top flag; on a podium, it is to the right of the speaker, etc.

This was largely in response to the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States regarding homosexual marriages. It was those congregation’s way of saying that God’s authority is greater than the authority of any human court. They said, “After all, the pledge of allegiance to flag says, ‘…one nation, under God…, and that’s what we are showing.”

This, of course, is in keeping with the statement of the Apostles when they were ordered by the Supreme Court of Judea, the elders of the Sanhedrin, not to speak or act any more in the name of Jesus. They responded:

We must obey God rather than men…. –Peter, Acts 5:29a, NIV.

This is not to say that Christians are not to respect the laws of the nations in which they live. Even when Nero was the Roman Emperor, Paul wrote to the church in Rome that they should “be subject to the powers that be,” for God had put them in place to maintain order in society (Romans 13:1ff). Paul also took advantage of his Roman citizenship when a Jewish mob threatened to kill him, even appealing to Caesar for judgment.

This does emphasize that our final allegiance is to God, not to any human government. This ultimate submission to God is the basis for the following “Christian Pledge of Allegiance.”

“I pledge allegiance to the Father of the united saints of the kingdom, — and to the Redeemer by Whom we stand — One Body, unified in Spirit, indivisible, with liberty and love for all.”Al Maxey

UNITED IN THE SAME MIND


I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment. – 1 Corinthians 1:10 (ESV)

Whatever is meant by this, it cannot mean “united in the same opinions.” If that were so, then the church would be hostage to the opinions of the most opinionated, stuborn, and self-willed members! In other words, it would require Continue reading

Question: She Got Married to Help Someone Stay in the U.S.A. Is It O.K. Now for Her to Sleep With Any One She Chooses?


I received this question in a comment to an earlier post:

Red Question Mark

I have a step daughter who married a guy so he could stay in the U.S.A. she keeps saying its ok for her to sleep with whom ever she wants because of this. I am worried that she is sinning when saying and doing this. What should i do or say about this. Is she right or wrong. I have researched it but can’t find the answer anywhere. Please help if you can. Thank you.

Marriage is too sacred to be treated so lightly. It is one of God’s greatest gifts to man, a gift that changed God’s verdict on his original creation from “Good” to “Very Good.”

Yet, it is something the human race as a whole has treated casually.

To marry a “guy so he could stay in the U.S.A.” makes someone else’s staying in this country of greater importance than one’s own citizenship in the kingdom of heaven. Then to say, “…it’s o.k. to sleep with whom ever she wants because of this” (I guess the ‘this’ there is the sham of a marriage?) flies in the face of all God has said about how the two sexes are to relate to one another.

God’s plan for marriage is that it be between a man and a woman “until death do us part.” They are to be faithful to each other. They are to honor and respect each other. Indeed, they are to love one another.

As a single person, did she justify sleeping with whomever she chose? Is the fact that her “marriage” is a “sham” her justification now? What makes her believe God has no advice for her on this sort of conduct?

What does her father say about this? What you will be able to say to her will depend much on the sort of relationship you have with her, as well as how her father feels about her actions.

It is tragic that so many have sold themselves so cheaply, so many that the American culture in general thinks there is nothing at all to be concerned with in a promiscuous lifestyle. They believe God just doesn’t want them to have any fun, without stopping to think that as the One who created sex just might have some ideas about how it should be used without abusing it.

In marriage, it is a part of the glue that binds a couple together. It can deepen the love-relationship between the married couple. Outside of marriage, unbridled sex ends up hurting people – often, many people. The biblical word for what your daughter is doing is fornication. This means any immoral or forbidden sexual activity; that is, it is any sex without the commitment of marriage.

Of course, the world in general scoffs at this. That makes about as much sense as scoffing at the auto-maker’s recommendation that the oil level in the crankcase is important to the functioning of the car. You ignore the maker’s recommendations at your own peril, and we ignore God’s teachings at our own peril as well.

You are right to be concerned. I wish I could tell you how to handle the situation, but it sounds as if your step-daughter is headstrong and unlikely to listen to any council from you. Hopefully she will grow up and begin to act like a real adult instead of the plastic adulthood she seems to be living, the kind of sophomoric “adulthood of an “Adult Bookstore.” God is a loving God who still loves her in her rebellion. He loves her so much that Jesus lived and died to save her from herself. To the woman taken in adultery, he said, “Go and sin no more.” (See John 8:1-11.) I believe he would say the same to your step-daughter.

Enter to Win a Set of Seven N. T. Wright Classics from Eerdmans


I’m a fan of N.T. Wright, though sometimes he is heavy going to read. I challenge anyone to read any of his books, though, and come away empty.

EerdWord

He’s a brilliant scholar. A respected church leader. A best-selling author.

N. T. Wright is . . . well, according to Christianity Today’s April cover story (“Surprised by N. T. Wright“):

People who are asked to write about N. T. Wright may find they quickly run out of superlatives. He is the most prolific biblical scholar in a generation. Some say he is the most important apologist for the Christian faith since C. S. Lewis. He has written the most extensive series of popular commentaries on the New Testament since William Barclay. And, in case three careers sound like too few, he is also a church leader, having served as Bishop of Durham, England, before his current teaching post at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland.

But perhaps the most significant praise of all: When Wright speaks, preaches, or writes, folks say they see Jesus, and lives are…

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