Dr. John B. MacDonald
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Tom Sine, Live Like You Give a Damn!: Join the Changemaking Celebration   (Cascade Books, 2016).

 

I was intrigued by the title and the author. A foreword by Walter Brueggemann was an additional incentive.

It took a bit of time before I warmed to the book. Perhaps that was more a reflection of my need to engage in some change.

The author, Tom Sine was born in 1936, making him 80 this year. Together with his wife, Christine, he is a founder of Mustard Seed Associates. From his residence in Seattle, Washington, he travels widely, teaching and engaging others in changemaking. This changemaking has purpose; it’s not just change for the sake of change.

From the beginning, Sine poses the provocative question: Does the future have a Church?” He concludes with another: Does the Church have a Gen-Next future? These two anchoring questions demonstrate a care for the continuing life and vitality of the church.

Sine recognizes that the younger generations (i.e., those under 35 years) are disillusioned with the institutionalized church that has largely become disengaged from the well-being of those “outside the tent” in areas such as concern for our neighbor, social justice, and environmental care. Motivated in part by the general decline and malaise of the church in the Western first world, Sine invites us to re-vision and re-engage in our world. After all, “isn’t the call to work for the well-being of both humankind and God’s good creation central to what it means to be a follower of Jesus?” (7).

As for his audience, he is “attempting to persuade those over 35 to solicit the ideas and initiatives of the under 35” (9, 169). He also seeks to introduce his readers “to a broader range of new possibilities in terms of how to follow Jesus in difficult times” (10).

The book introduces us to a cornucopia of possibilities in innovative social entrepreneurial projects throughout the world. A sampling includes an enterprise to prolong the shelf-life of perishable fruits and vegetables in Nigeria; importation of natural fabrics manufactured by vulnerable women in Thailand; and, local housing and gardening enterprises at home.

So as not to simply read and forget, there are numerous exercises throughout the text to explore possibilities and to take action. The reader is challenged to make radical changes in priorities and lifestyle (147).

Sine equips and encourages readers to anticipate new opportunities and allow their imaginations to be ignited to ever creative and expanding possibilities that empower, enrich, and otherwise benefit whole communities. As I read, I found I was considering possibilities in my own small sphere of influence. 

Readers are encouraged to ask, “How can we secure the creative ideas and leadership of the young, who can show us how to become more innovative changemakers and how to transform our churches into churches for others?” (170). His book concludes by providing some current examples of this is being done.

There are a few minor things to criticize. 

For instance, there were some bloopers. One was the confusion about whether he was riding in a helium or a hot-air balloon (121, 142). Another referred to Alberta as a city, not once but three times (106). Alberta is a Canadian province with an area exceeding 3½ times that of Sine’s Washington State. 

I would have appreciated some creative variations to alleviate the monotonous regularity of phrases such as “changemaking celebration” and “get out your iPads or notebooks.” 

One can forgive these lapses in accuracy and repetition. Although they did distract, they did not detract from Sine’s overall message.

You may not agree with all that Sine relates or advocates. However, as I see it, his general premise is unmistakable: engage your imagination and energies in all of life for the glory of God and the benefit of others. 

Surely this kind of changemaking resonates with the heart of our God who has revealed himself as Jesus Christ. It is change that participates beneficially with our neighbors (including the marginalized, vulnerable, and oppressed) and God’s creation. 

This book should be read by anyone who is "stuck" as a follower of Jesus, and those who want the (post) modern Church in the West to become what Christ wants it to be.

 

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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