Over the course of two days in a format similar to the popular TED talks, the speakers spoke passionately more about what they were doing to make the world a better place than they did about getting more butts into pews on any given Sunday.
From human trafficking and global hunger to religious freedom and homelessness, the Q presenters painted a vivid picture of what the good news of the gospel means in practical, human terms.
“If you think the gospel is about getting people to say the’Sinner’s Prayer’ so they can get their ticket to heaven, then your gospel has a hole in it,” said Richard Stearns, CEO of World Vision and author of the 2010 book that expounds on his theme, “The Hole in Our Gospel: What Does God Expect of Us? The Answer That Changed My Life and Might Just Change the World.”
“Jesus sends us to restore and renew our broken world. The great commission was a sprawling vision ... of a new kind of human flourishing that would take the world by storm. It was an invitation for all to come in and to live differently.”
While money alone can’t fix everything, taking an honest look at our checkbooks and how we spend our money isn’t a bad place to start, he said.
For instance, the Bible teaches the financial principle of tithing — that is, giving 10 percent of our incomes away. Yet among America’s 350,000 churches, the nation’s self-identified Christians on average give away only 2.4 percent of their income annually.
That 2.4 percent is hardly chump change, amounting to $125 billion per year. Yet most of it, Stearns said, is spent on running our churches and paying church staff.
Stearns is savvy enough to realize that guilting or cajoling Christians to give the full 10 percent is likely a quixotic endeavor.
But what if American Christians gave away just an additional 1 percent of their income — by Stearns’ calculations, an extra $52 billion.
“I don’t want to sugarcoat this,” he said. “Tackling human suffering on this scale is a massive, daunting and exceedingly difficult task. The challenge is huge, but so is the church in America.”
Multiplied over a generation of 20 years or so, that extra $52 billion would give us a bit more than $1 trillion with which to change the world. “So,” Stearns said, “let’s go shopping.”
World Vision estimates that the cost of providing clean, safe water to every person on the planet would be about $70 billion.
“This one intervention would drastically reduce child mortality, it would allow tens of millions of children to attend school, it would free up millions of hours of productive time for women, and it would change life in rural communities dramatically,” he said.