Saturday, December 22

Best sermon illustration ever

I stumbled across this article this morning. A pastor in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, which is about 20 miles from Cleveland, was preaching about the Parable of the Talents. In the parable, the master, who was leaving on a trip, gave his servants money based on their abilities. Two of the servants were rewarded for going out and using their money to gain more money for the master. The third servant was punished for simply burying his money so that none of it would be lost. One of the principles of the story is that we should use the gifts that God gives us for his benefit.

The pastor in Ohio wanted his congregation to live out the parable. So he borrowed $40,000 from some anonymous donors. At the end of the sermon, he gave each adult $50 and each child $10, and told them to go out and use the money to earn more money. In 7 weeks, they would collect the money, and everything about the initial $40,000 would go to missions. If people were uncomfortable with this, they had the option of simply returning the money (with no punishment, like third servant in the parable).

It made people think long and hard about their talents, and what they could do. But people came up with extremely creative ideas. They ranged from a pilot who rented air time and sold rides to people to teenagers who pooled their money and made fleece baby blankets, to a 9-year-old who made origami and sold the pieces from a stand on his street.

At the end of the 7 weeks, the church collected the money. The congregation had raised $38,195 above the original loan. And money is still coming in, because some people extended their projects in order to finish them, and others are still receiving orders for the ideas they came up with. But the church will tell you that it's not just about the money. This project made people really think about and understand what their talents and interests are and how they can use them for God.

Too often the Bible is nothing more than just words on a page. It is one thing to intellectually understand the principles that a story in the Bible teaches. But the real power of the Bible comes when we actually put those things into practice. Doing that makes a positive change in our world for God.

No comments: