Plastic Donuts by Jeff Anderson – I recently received an email from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group asking me to read and do a video review of this book. I was intrigued decided to give it a whirl.
Let me start off by saying that this book is short. It is under 110 pages and doesn’t pack a lot of words onto it’s small pages (the book is small too). I read it one evening and I am by no means a speed reader.
Do not let the size of this book fool you, though! As someone who has spent a little bit of time trying to find a good book about giving, I have to say this is one of the best I have read. That was surprising to me, especially considering the size of the book. I really figured that if the publisher was shopping it around, it was because it wasn’t very good.
The book is broken out into 4 main points or tent posts around which the author builds his case for giving. He does a great job of addressing the different questions pastors and leaders try to answer in teaching and preaching on giving. He also does a good job of recognizing the tension between legalism and cheapening grace.
I think the last point is important because people usually fall into one of two camps. One camp hides in the tithe. They see it as a standard and give 10% and only 10% without a thought of more. The other camp hides in the freedom from the Law, saying that it is based on what God lays on their heart. Although there is truth in that statement, it is sometimes an excuse to not give at all. Many times there is no searching God’s will for what to give and instead a smoke-screen to selfishness and autonomy.
Jeff touches on taking ownership of giving in the sense that it is something to be explored and prayed through. He also talks about our ability to give affecting what we give. I think this ties in perfectly with something I have always thought in that your previous financial commitments hinder or help your ability to give when you feel led to. So if you spend every dime of your check each pay on debt, you can’t respond to any leading to give somewhere else.
Throughout the book Jeff relates giving to a plastic donut his daughter gave him from her kitchen. He uses that to talk about the delight he had in receiving something that mattered to his daughter and her delight in seeing his approved reaction. That is a launching pad to discuss whether there are good and bad gifts in the eyes of God, what gifts matter to God in connection to what matters to us, and the response from God to our gifts. All pretty good stuff!
I really liked this book overall. I think Jeff has packed a big punch into a little book. I wasn’t a big fan of the way he talked about a personal standard outside of viewing it as God’s standard, but in the grand scheme of things, I found that to be a minor bump in the road he was paving.
I think this book would be great as material for a small group, class, or maybe even sermons about giving. It is a complex topic that is often seen as shark-infested water, often avoided by leaders in the Church. However, Plastic Donuts does a great job of helping to navigate those waters with very applicable and memorable concepts.
I’d give it a 4.5/5.
UPDATE: My video review has been edited and uploaded by the publisher. It was fun doing it so I hope you enjoy it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IkfFB36xSwo&feature=c4-overview&list=UURdWTy_uL1ohvCapXEaU8aA
Disclosure of Material Connection:I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”