I’ve mentioned the book Outflow (Steve Sjogren & Dave Ping) briefly in a previous post or two. At State College E-Free we recently read through the book, which culminated in a day of service on May 4th. Here are a few points about the book and thoughts I had while reading through it:
The premise. Outflow is all about sharing the love of God. As we experience the love of God it should then flow out from us; to family, friends, neighbors, and the world.
Who do you love? Or maybe the better question is what do you love? The authors make a solid point about love:
“Although God created us to love God and people and to use things, the Thief convinces us to reverse that order. We start loving things and using God or people as a means to get what we want” (emphasis the authors’).
Pursuit of personal gain and personal comfort is generally acceptable (shoot, it’s even considered responsible). The Outflow authors use the heading “A Life That Sucks” when discussing selfishness. If a Christian is simply looking to be heard, to be served, and to be loved they are missing something. There is no overflow of God’s love, they are draining everyone they encounter. Instead, in response to God’s love, we should seek to listen, serve, and love those around us. This is the life overflowing. And this is difficult.
Motivation. When I begin to understand what God has done for me, and what He has called me to do, my natural response should be to care about others. This is the impetus for overflow that is sustainable. If guilt or pride is what is motivating me I will be doomed to fail.
A distraction. There is one sentence from this book that really distracted me. And it appears twice (once on the back cover and once inside in the author bios). Here it is: “Steve Sjogren pioneered the modern serving/outward-focused church movement more than 20 years ago when he planted a church in Cincinnati.” When did the modern era begin? You mean to tell me that before 20 years ago serving/outward-focused churches didn’t exist? Isn’t that a bit arrogant/misguided? I know Steve probably didn’t write his own bio paragraph, so I don’t blame him, but I wish the editor had modified it. I know it’s a minor issue, but it really bothered me.
Closing thoughts. Obviously this is not a complete review. If you want to hear a more complete review of the book ask me about it. I’d say it is a worthwhile book to read.