Imagine sitting on a plane – especially if you travel alone. Who will be your seatmate? Will that person smell? Require too much legroom? Be quiet? Or, will they be a new friend?
On a flight from Seattle to OC last month, I was pleasantly surprised. My seatmate and I clicked right away. Both followers of Jesus. Already a sense of common purpose. But, beyond that, this guy knew someone I grew up with as a kid in California and someone that is a newer friend in Seattle – worlds colliding.
Came to find out that my new friend, John Rinehart, was also a writer. I sat in awe as he told me about the people behind the people who changed the course of Christian history and thereby, the world. Specifically I learned about the often untold stories of those who supported the ministries of Wesley, Tyndale, Whitefield, and so many others. Generosity behind the scenes enables gifted preachers, teachers, and missionaries to partner with God in world-changing ways. John’s soon-to-be released book, Gospel Patrons: People Whose Generosity Changed the World (FB and Twitter), documents the untold stories of those who gave to support significant ministries.
gos●pel pa●trons, noun. 1. people who resource and come alongside others to help them proclaim the gospel.
On his Kickstarter site, John gives the following description of the book:
Behind the success of the hymn Amazing Grace, behind the explosive revival of The Great Awakening, behind the first translation of the English Bible, were visionary, risk-taking, and generous men and women. I call them Gospel Patrons. They were active partners in great movements of God in the past. But their stories have been overlooked and almost lost to history and perhaps that’s what they would have wanted. But maybe this book can resurrect their stories, if only for a little while, so that we might reclaim the place Gospel Patrons have in furthering God’s kingdom.
The conviction driving this book is that God uses people to change the world—and He’s not done yet! I want my life and yours to count for what matters most, to be zeroed in on a lasting legacy that we can look back on one day and be proud of. This book helps us imagine that is possible. It suggests that we can participate in stories still to be written. It’s an open invitation for each of us to discover our part to play.
As someone who appreciates the Gospel Patrons of my own ministry, I think this book does a great job highlighting the important role of generosity in ministry. We need to be the kind of people (I’m thinking especially of those in some sort of paid vocational ministry) who celebrate the ways God uses those of financial means to advance the Kingdom. Money makes a person no better or worse or ready-to-be-used by God, but it would be silly to not recognize the way in which God redeems Mammon by using it to open spaces for the love of God to break through. And of course, this doesn’t mean that we ought to “let [our] right hand know what [our] left hand is doing” (Matt. 6.3), but we must also have gratitude for the various ways that all people contribute the movement of God in the world (even financially).
The books breaks down this way:
1 – The Discovery: This opening chapter looks at what gospel patronage is, how I came across it, and why it matters for us today.
2 – The English Bible: This is the story of William Tyndale and Humphrey Monmouth and their partnership that gave us an English Bible.
3 – The Eighteenth-Century Revival: This is the story of George Whitefield and Lady Huntingdon and how God used a wealthy noblewoman to promote an international revival.
4 – The Resurgence of Evangelical Churches: This is the story of John Newton and John Thornton, with a guest appearance from William Wilberforce, and the surprising ways these men shaped the churches of England and England itself.
5 – The Gospel of Gospel Patronage: This chapter asks and answers the questions: what motivated the gospel patrons of history and how do we become those kind of people?
6 – The Real Business of Life: This final chapter looks at the calling of a gospel patron and our part to play in carrying the gospel forward in our generation.
I highly recommend checking out this book. It will be a fun read and might make a great gift for the patrons in your life and ministry.
Check out John in action. Here’s a video explaining his passion for this book project:
Also, I highly recommend checking out his Kickstarter campaign!