To illustrate sermon, church presents $717 tip

Mark Jones, pastor of Nelson Christian Church, leads a prayer Sunday for pizza delivery driver Stephen Greenwell.

A Papa John’s delivery driver received an unexpected surprise Sunday when he showed up in the middle of a sermon at Nelson Chris­tian Church with a pizza order.

About 30 minutes prior, Minister Mark Jones caused a few chuckles and perplexed looks from the congregation during the 10:40 a.m. service when he whipped out his cellphone on stage to make a call.

“I need to order a pizza, please,” Jones said. “I would like to have an extra-large pepperoni pizza and an order of breadsticks.”

While the pizza was a snack for the leadership meeting after church, the purpose of the mid-service delivery was to help Jones illustrate his final sermon on generosity.

“We are going to blow somebody’s mind today,” Jones told the congregation after ending the call. “We’re getting ready to have our offering, and any loose cash that’s in the offering plate is going to be the tip for the driver.”

When Stephen Greenwell walked through the door with the pizza, Jones brought the man up on stage, shook his hand and gave him a small pink box that contained the money collected throughout the morning — $717.

Greenwell said he’s been delivering pizzas for about six months and is the father of two young girls. He’s received large tips before, but nothing compared to Sunday’s surprise.

After being handed the tip, Jones led a prayer for Greenwell, asking blessings for his family, before allowing the man to return to work.

During his sermon, Jones spoke about how generosity must be motivated by love, not selfishness, and that when others give cheerfully, they honor God and, in many cases, create a ripple effect of kindness and compassion.

One example shown by video to the churchgoers Sunday was of a young boy named Myles Eckert, who in 2014 found a $20 bill in the parking lot of a restaurant and chose to give it to a soldier eating there.

Eckert’s act of kindness, which made the news, later inspired more than $2 million in donations to charities.

But generosity is not just about handing over a $20 bill to a stranger or putting money in an offering plate, Jones said. Generosity could be lending a car to someone whose car is in the shop, visiting someone in the hospital, making a meal for someone going through a hard time and donating blankets to a homeless shelter.

“There’s any number of ways we can be generous,” he said. “It’s about giving more than expected. It’s giving our best, not just the leftovers. It’s open hands and open hearts.”