By Pastor Phil Stanley 8/28/2023
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Today marks the final Sunday we’ll be having single services. I’m so excited to begin the next chapter of growth with you guys next weekend. Invite your friends and tell them we’ll finally have room!
Last week was a special weekend for me and Heather and I want to thank you all for how deeply loved you made us feel. It’s an honor and privilege to be your pastors and we’re grateful for you each and every day.
The past couple of days we were able to participate in the Church Teams Conference in Griffin, Ga. We had 14 folks give up their time and invest in serving the church and I would like to thank them for going with us.
It was really a lot of fun. They had over 75 classes offered and the hardest part was picking the 3-4 breakout sessions you wanted to attend. I know I came home with several ideas and strategies to help us move forward and I think everyone who went could say the same. I also want to go ahead and invite everyone to go with us next year about the same time. It truly is a wonderful conference designed to help you be equipped for whatever God has called you to do.
Almost exactly one year ago we began a series we called values and vision. Does anyone that is not part of the staff or core team remember our core values?
Connect, grow, serve, go, worship. They are equally important to our health as a church.
I want to spend a few minutes sharing those once again and also want to spend a little time sharing the vision I believe God has for us.
In my career in the marketplace, I’ve had the opportunity to walk a few businesses and organizations through the process of uncovering their core values and helped them develop their vision and mission statements.
It’s actually a really fun job. Everyone usually feels excited about articulating what their “why” is and deciding “where” they are going.
That’s the very start. Every church needs to know “why” we exist and “where” God is leading us.
One of my favorite books of all time is “The Spirit Empowered Church” by Alton Garrison.
We looked at this book as part of our Wednesday night Bible study last year.
The book lays out the Acts 2 church model that we adopted here at Cornerstone. He talks about vision, mission, core values and gives great insight on where to get started.
As Christians, we can easily identify our mission. It’s the Great Commission in Matthew chapter 28:
“I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations,[a] baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
That’s our mission. Jesus, in all authority, commands us to go make disciples and in a little while we’re going to get to do the next part when baptize some folks.
The “how” of that mission is given to us from Matthew 22:36
36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”
37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
Our way forward is to love our neighbors as ourselves. The Great commandment serves as our guidelines as to how we are supposed to act.
“Vision isn’t buildings, plans, or numbers. It isn’t about programs or ministry tools. Vision is about being the kind of people and the kind of church God wants us to be… True vision is God’s vision for our churches, our neighborhoods, and our cities. He puts these things on our hearts when we train ourselves to listen. It’s already there, but we must mine it out.”
– Alton Garrison
So what does God’s ideal version of Cornerstone look like? Let’s take a look at Acts Chapter 2:42
42 All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper[i]), and to prayer.
43 A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 44 And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. 45 They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. 46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity[j]— 47 all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Notice who God added to their fellowship? Those who were being saved. Friends, thats what we’re asking God for here at Cornerstone. We want to add to our church those who are hurting, feel lost, who are poor in spirit, those who are battling hang ups, those who feel like they don’t belong.
That’s the heartbeat of welcoming and loving everyone. Our values come from this passage in Acts 2. Say them with me again: Connect, Grow, Serve, Go, and Worship.
Connect: We connect through fellowship with God and each other. (we do this well guys, congratulations)
Grow: We grow through the model of discipleship Jesus gave us. It’s intentional time spent being discipled and discipling others. What does it look like? It’s letting God show you what he can do in your life, walking with Him as he renews your mind and spirit, and then letting Him use you to help someone else go through the same process.
Serve: another one of the Cornerstone favorites. We like to serve. It’s where we put hands and feet to our faith. We serve out of mutual submission to one another. We take the same welcoming and loving culture and put it into action.
Go: Serve, grow, and go are best friends. You could say that about each of our values. We go into all the world and make disciples. I’d argue that making a disciple requires a relationship. Sure we can evangelize to strangers and God uses that but even in those moments there has to be some sort of trust between you and the person you’re sharing Jesus with. We should look for common ground so we can lead them to Holy ground. Jesus wants us all to share His light with the world. We’re called to go into all the neighborhood, all the city, all the nation, and all the world. It’s not just supporting our missionaries, it’s an all of the above mentality.
Worship: We pray together, we worship the king of kings together, we collectively exalt Jesus. We rally under his banner. We enter His presence and allow the Holy Spirit to strip away the things that hold us back from fulfilling His plan and purpose. We give sacrificially. We seek God together.
The vehicle that gets our values to our vision is making everyone we meet feel welcomed and loved.
That extends beyond the walls of this church. Some of y’all have really adopted the culture of welcomed and loved and it’s beautiful. But don’t limit what God wants to do by limiting where you extend His hospitality. Find ways to welcome and love people wherever you are. Surprise your coworkers with thoughtfulness. Make friends at the grocery store or even not fun places like the line at the DMV.
Take what we have here at Cornerstone and shine that light throughout the city.
This weekend the district brought in a pastor from florida named Cory Demmel and he brought an excellent message that is too good not to share with you.
He spoke about how Jesus calls us the light of the world. Yes, there’s several times he also calls himself the light of the world but in Matthew 5, in his sermon on the mount he tells us that we are the light of the world.
The significance of that is that we all have a role. We all have something to bring to Jesus. We all can shine His light in the darkness. What a difference we could make in this community if we step up and out into dark places and let Jesus shine through us.
This morning I have a surprise for you all. After we finish up service, we’re going to have an impromptu potluck. It’ll be awesome. How many of you have something you can share with everyone? Anyone got a side dish or maybe a brisket they could share?
Maybe you don’t realize what you’ve got to offer?
Cory gave the example of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and how a little boy willingly shared his lunch when no one else would. There were tons of people there and it’s super unlikely that no one else brought a lunch but notice what happens when the kid brings what he has. God uses it to bless the multitudes.
Some of you have written off what you have as too insignificant for God to use and you’re dead wrong.
You are the light of the world. God can obviously do whatever He wants but He has time and again told us that He wants to do it with us.
We all have something God wants to use to bless his people with. But we have to bring it to him first.
Another session from this weekend talked about how any church can become missions giving churches. I want to tell you that we’re going to spend some time talking about biblical stewardship. That’ll be a series we dive into soon. We’re going to talk about harvest and we’re going to see what God can do when we invite him to use what we bring Him.
The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver. That extends beyond finances y’all. Don’t be reluctant to give your gifts to God.
Giving is an act of worship and it’s never been limited to gifts of money. Give yourself to God and see what miracles He can do.
That’s where we are right now with our building program. I’ve been talking to consultants, a General contractor, other pastors who have either built a building recently or are in the trenches of a building program just like us.
In fact, yesterday Mason and I went to a breakout session about where to begin when building and it was fascinating.
A young pastor sitting next to me told us about the nightmare he’s living trying to get a building and it was very similar to the size we are looking at. He was talking about all the red tape and money you have to spend up front to get anything done. It wasn’t a happy story. He said they were expecting it to cost over a million dollars to get something built.
I should have been discouraged but I wasn’t. I took notes and kept listening as the pastor who was leading the session told us about his building project they just finished. His story was a happy story where their expected cost was 1.7 million but through God’s grace and mercy they built it for $650K. Literally a million less than expected and it’s beautiful.
I refuse to put limits on what God can do. I refuse to settle for anything less than what He has for us.
I felt it in my heart. I began feeling a sense of determination and peace that we ar going to do this. God is not a liar, he’s not a beggar, and he’s not intimidated by inflation or supply and demand. If He says it, He will make it so.
We are not building for our sakes. We’re not building a palace, we’re building the Kingdom and that means we don’t have to be afraid. We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
After the conference we dropped by the church that has a building that is similar to what I believe the Lord is directing us to build here.
We are way too early to know exactly what it’ll cost. And nothing is set in stone. But I’m trusting you this morning. This will not look exactly like what we build but I want to give you a snapshot of the vision.
I can’t tell you when we’ll start construction, but we’re not waiting on another building to fulfill our call and purpose.
We are moving forward right now.
We’re going to begin our two service Sundays next week. I want you to get a feel for what that looks like too.
We’re not changing everything all at once. We’re rolling out the changes over the next month so everyone has time to adjust.
We are grateful for all who have been serving as ushers, greeters, nursery workers, crew kids workers, worship team, tech team, and all the facilities crew that keeps the church clean.
I need those of you who have been reluctant to serve in one of those roles to step up. It’s time. Bring what you have to Jesus and let him use it for His glory. He wants you to be involved in what He’s doing. You are the light of the world. You matter. It matters.
We want you to serve but we also want you to be served. That is why we’re rolling out changes to the volunteer schedules. We need folks to volunteer at both services but we don’t ever want you to miss out on being in service yourself.
So we’re asking you to serve and be served.
If you’re scheduled to serve in nursery at 9am one sunday, we want you to serve, and then stay for the next service and be served. We’ll have refreshments between services, the kids will have a place to be. We’ll take care of it.
If you’re asked to serve at the 11am service, we want you to attend the 9am service.
There’s always coffee. And it’ll give you a chance to connect in a different way than you’re accustomed to.
Each week from 10:30-11 we’ll have a fellowship opportunity for all Cornerstonians. We’re calling it Cornerstone connect. Early birds, don’t be afraid of coming to the 9am service and missing folks. You’ll get to see them at Cornerstone connect. Late risers, don’t be afraid of coming to the 9am service and missing folks. You’ll get to see them at Cornerstone connect.
Some of you have been to other churches with a early morning service that was different from the other. That’s not what we’re doing. Our worship team will be at both services. Heather and I will bring the same message at both services. You’ll be welcomed and loved at both services.
For those worried about us growing too big. That’s the devil trying to discourage and distract you from what God wants to do.
As long as we hold tight to our values and vision, we will protect our culture where everyone is welcomed and loved and is given the opportunity to grow deep and meaningful relationships with each other.
You may wonder why I’ve taken so much time revisiting our values and vision and going over all this. I’ll share this scripture from Habakkuk 2
And then God answered: “Write this.
Write what you see.
Write it out in big block letters
so that it can be read on the run.
This vision-message is a witness
pointing to what’s coming.
It aches for the coming—it can hardly wait!
And it doesn’t lie.
If it seems slow in coming, wait.
It’s on its way. It will come right on time.
I expect that we’re going to need $500k to build. I expect we’re going to need 20 more volunteers to step up for our second service. I expect that God has only begun to move and that we’re going to witness a miraculous transformation of lives in this neighborhood, this city, this nation, and the world.
We’re building a multiethnic, multigenerational church that rallies under the one banner of King Jesus.