I recently had a conversation with a vocal advocate of a worldview that is diametrically opposed to Jesus and the gospel. Since I knew this person had a background in philosophy, I began to probe into his belief system with all the apologetic tools in my tool belt. To be honest, I thought I was winning the argument. I was pulling out all kinds of phrases that were making me sound rather intelligent. Nevertheless, as our discussion continued I became very frustrated at the way he could easily write off my well crafted logic. I was getting hammered, but not because he was actually answering my arguments.
After a couple of hours of talking, I began to give up and change the subject. We began discussing life. Soon the discussion landed on our church plant (Youngstown Metro Church) and our location in the city. A major part of our story is how we purchased a multi-million dollar cathedral in the city for $52,500. As the story goes, the owners of the building agreed to the amount above which made us overcome with joy. We were quickly brought down to earth when we realized that no one would loan the money outright to our fledgling church plant. After talking to several banks, we felt completely discouraged. They told us that they would approve a loan on one condition. We had to raise half the money in cash or pledges before we could proceed.
This seemed quite crazy at the time because we only had three weeks to raise the money. To be honest, I questioned whether or not we could make it. For the next two weeks we talked with our people about the special offering and collected it on the third week. We took the offering at the beginning of the gathering and at the end the offering counters gave me the paper with the final number. I was completely shocked to see how generously and sacrificially our people gave. The total given was $107,000 and a little over $70,000 was cash. It was an amazing night.
After hearing this story, the guy I was speaking with said he was blown away by the generosity of our people and that he wanted to come by and check us out. He easily blew off all of my well crafted reasoning, but he couldn’t blow off the generosity of the church. That conversation woke me up to the fact that, though well-crafted arguments have their place, a greater testimony to the gospel is the generosity of the church. Give generously. Give sacrificially. Be a light for the gospel.
J. D. Greear posted a guest blog a couple days ago from Josh Shank today. Josh has planted a church in Youngstown, Ohio (where the lovely Robin and I ministered with The Salvation Army in 1991 and 1992). Josh mentions an often neglected apologetic, more powerful, perhaps, than all our rational arguments for the faith: