Book Review: “Difference Makers: An Action Guide For Jesus Followers” by Scott Boren

photo“Difference Makers” by Scott Boren is a book written to encourage and challenge followers of Jesus Christ to make a difference for the kingdom of God in everyday, ordinary life. The book is written so that the reader can focus on one chapter per day. After you have done your reading you are encouraged to spend time prayerfully considering what God is saying to you through his Word.  Here are a few themes of the book that stood out to me:

Making a difference in everyday life: “Most difference makers have more in common with George Bailey (It’s A Wonderful Life) than the heroes of the Avengers. They are ordinary people who make real differences in the small stuff of life, through the unseen actions that don’t appear significant and most often go unnoticed. They connect with neighbors and meet little needs. They befriend a homeless person and allow him to shower in their home from time to time. They tutor a child who needs extra help. However, the superhero trap invades our thinking. We assume that we have to do something big and noticeable to fix the world in order to make a difference. The call of the hero is the call to stand alone, to stand above the crowd, and to depend on one’s own resources to change what’s wrong. I always assumed that the real difference makers came in the form of preachers, foreign missionaries, and those who moved into the inner city to work with the impoverished. While I see no problem with taking on public roles that result in high-profile influence, we need to break the hero mentality and look at the ways God works in the world.” P.26-27

Emphasis on community: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Pet. 2:9). The ‘you’ in this sentence is plural. It is not talking about ‘you’ as an individual. It is about who you are as part of a new nationality, a new citizenship, a new way of living. We are chosen to be part of this people, who are priests to the world together…Difference makers are part of a difference-making society. If you want to serve people at a homeless shelter, then go with a friend or go as a small group. If you want to mentor a child at a local elementary school, find someone with a similar longing and go together. If you want to invest in a family in need, then work with a few other people. Don’t think about what you can do. Think about what God wants to do through a group of his people.” P. 62, 64

Importance of prayer: “God fights for us in ways we can’t, don’t, or won’t. Making a difference is rooted in the action of God, who never stops coming against the lies we so easily believe. The mission of God’s people is to put themselves on the line between the revelation of God’s love and those in need of that love. We put ourselves in this place through prayer. We see the war for what it is. We know that we cannot make things right without tapping into what we cannot see. For a neighbor experiencing domestic violence, we pray. For a co-worker who’s angry with God, we pray. For a family down the street who cannot afford to feed their kids, we pray. We pray not as an alternative to doing something, we pray so that we might have the power to step in with more than good ideas or what we think they need. We pray so that we might act in God’s power and make a difference beyond logical answers.” P. 139-140

Another great quote about prayer is found on page 120, “Prayer opens the door for entry into mission.” What a great reminder for all of us who want to get out there and start making things happen. We need to patiently wait upon the Lord so that we are operating in the power of the Spirit.

Challenging the consumer mentality: “No church is perfect, but that’s not the point. We often miss out on what God is doing through the church because we expect it to be exciting and stimulating. We expect it to meet our needs, and then we go about our normal lives. Of course, that is the pattern of our culture. We participate in very little that fails to meet our needs or entertain us. It is impossible not to carry this mentality into the church. We consume church. Unless we confront this life of consumption, we will never grow up to practice a life that makes a difference. We will move from place to place and fail to stay put long enough with a specific group of people in a specific place to be a specific colony of heaven. Making a difference requires a mentality of investment, not one of consumption. As long as we consume church-in whatever our preferred form-we will miss out on the experience of being God’s colony in a country of death. Being part of a church requires us to stay put, to contribute, to work through difficulties, and to love others even when it would be easier to leave.”

A gospel focus: I am undeniably a gospel junky. Which means I immediately want to know if the author of any Christian book is keeping the gospel central to everything they write. Without the gospel we end up with good advice, no power when it comes to spiritual transformation.  So I was happy to notice that Chapters 22-28 are really all about abiding in Jesus Christ, not merely as an individual, but as a community of believers. The emphasis on the gospel is critical because the idea of sending people out to live as difference makers without abiding in Jesus is a frightening thought.

A good and challenging book that really functions as a devotional that you would read everyday and pray over. I recommend it!

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