Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Feb 22
2019

Life in Community | Dynamic Communities

Community | by Pastor Justin Keogh

The Life in Community series highlights aspects of our life lived together in community through a mixture of theology, vision, and personal stories. Cornerstone Communities are the primary means of forming meaningful discipling relationships where we can be known, encouraged, and challenged by brothers and sisters in our body, and live out the “one another” commandments in our daily lives. 

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

On a Sunday this past fall, Pastor Adam asked for a show of hands for those who are not native to Seattle – and it was the vast majority of our body! We have people joining us from all over the country (and the world!), across the gamut of occupations and life stages, with a wide array of personal backgrounds and experiences. This is itself a beautiful picture of the diversity of God’s kingdom (Rev 7:9) and His supernatural power at work to bring together a new people as his treasured possession (1 Pet 2:9-10). With such a significant portion of our body being relatively new to Seattle, there are many implications for who we are as a people, including and especially how we live life together in community.

As such, I’ve taken to describing our community life as dynamic. While we are always working to build meaningful discipling relationships in our communities, that looks different season to season. It also looks different than we might expect, either from our own past experiences, or desires for new experiences. So I think it’s helpful for us to consider a few ways that our mobile urban context can work for – or against – the goals of our life together in community. I’m sure there are others, but here are five implications that have been forefront in my mind this year.

First, we are called to welcome others as we have been welcomed by Christ (Rom 15:7).

We ought to always be on the lookout for those who are new, but knowing that most of us are relatively new should keep this commandment forefront for us. Along with welcoming is to practice hospitality with one another, inviting others into our homes and our lives (Rom 12:13, Heb 13:2, 1 Pet 4:9). Welcoming and being hospitable is more than just taking someone out to lunch or having them over for dinner (though that is certainly included), but in the broader sense to be welcoming and hospitable is to say to others “I see you and I have room for you in my life.” In our hyper-busy culture, we must be intentional to make room for others, and in so doing, by God’s grace, live as welcoming and hospitable people.

Second, we should expect there to be movement as a part of our life together, without keeping a distance.

Our primary purpose in community is to foster meaningful discipling relationships – and the fact that some folks might be leaving can tempt us to keep things shallow, to avoid getting real with others. But we must walk this tension to build and maintain authentic community – and seek to make meaningful relationships with those who are in our body, for as long as they’re in our body. God is sovereign over all the details of our lives, and that includes the people that he’s brought into your life and our body today.

Third, we should commit – in community, in church membership, and in stewarding our gifts for the upbuilding of the body (1 Cor 12:7).

Commitment is like a bad word in our day and age, but it’s essential in order for us to be a healthy family. In order to be known and know others, we have to commit and consistently show up. When we aren’t willing to commit to go be with our community, what we’re really saying is that community is primarily about “What’s in it for me?” rather than “How can I steward my gifts for the upbuilding of the body?” Surely, there will be days when circumstances prevent our full participation, but that should be the exception and not the norm. Directly related is our experience of intimacy with others – if we’re not willing to commit and show up, then we won’t be able to receive the blessing of meaningful relationships with others. This same consumer mentality can lead us away from church membership, which then limits how well we can care for each other because we’re not committed to each other. And not surprisingly, if we aren’t committed to others in community or the church as members, it will be impossible for us to commit to using our gifts for the upbuilding of the church – which is a disservice to ourselves, our community, and our church family.

Fourth, we should get involved quickly, even if we’re not sure how long we’ll be here.

Some of us may only plan to be in Seattle for a year or two and be tempted to say that it won’t be worth the relational effort to get connected. There are three reasons that this temptation leads us to waste our time: First, 1-3 years can see a LOT of growth, and if we don’t take a step to commit, then we’ll miss out on the opportunity to grow while we’re here (after all, Jesus only spent three years physically with his disciples). Second, I’ve known many people who’ve set out to be here for six months, only for the project to get extended three months at a time, or a new relationship started, or a job change, which leads to them being in Seattle for years. But because they hadn’t committed to anyone, they’ve remained on the outskirts and being lonely for much longer than they thought they would be. Third, the commandments for us to make the best use of our time (Eph 5:16, Col 4:5) still apply to us, even when we’re expecting to be somewhere for a short period of time.

Fifth, we need to persevere and not be discouraged if people you’ve invested in leave.

Often we will grow close to someone and then seasons change and they move away – leaving us behind, perhaps relationally tired or even hurt. The temptation arises to say “Well, I’m done getting hurt or spending my energies on others.” But if we withdraw, this leaves us further isolated and hurting. So, the solution is not to withdraw, but to welcome others. Certainly, there will be some relational cost and loss as people move away – but for us as brothers and sisters in Christ, it is less like we’re losing family but extending our family. Lord willing, those relationships can still exist to some extent even if people move to another community, out of state, or across the world – but even if not on this side of heaven, we’ll be able to celebrate for eternity when we gather together around Jesus. Our call is the same – to continue to stir one another up to love and good works, and continuing to meet together (Heb 10:24-25).

If you’re not yet in a Cornerstone Community, the best place to get started is with the Foundations class, which lays the groundwork for our life together in DCC. The next class starts this Sunday, 2/24, at 9a. You can read more details and register here.

Feb 13
2019

Our Search With The Preacher Begins Sunday

Teaching | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

This Sunday we begin a new series through the book of Ecclesiastes. It’s a timeless, and timely, book. In it, the Preacher-King, recounts a lifelong search for meaning, purpose, and satisfaction “under the sun.” His quest is an attempt to make sense out of life on a purely horizontal plane, without God in the picture. To do so, he exhausts every nook and cranny of the created order and human potential. Yet, again and again, he discovers “all is vanity.” Path after path leads to a dead end, so by the end there is only one way left.

This makes Ecclesiastes a unique book. It belongs with the wisdom literature of the Bible (i.e. Job, Psalms, Proverbs, and Song of Solomon) yet is also distinct from it. While the other books portray the fruit-filled wisdom of following God, Ecclesiastes portrays the fleeting nature of seeking life anywhere else. There are lessons here that are not found anywhere else in the Bible.

All of this, makes Ecclesiastes a gift from God. Through it, God invites us to step back and consider what we’re living for so we don’t waste our lives on vapor. Our lives are typically too full, busy, and noisy to think deeply about such things—so God gave us an entire book to slow us down. This is good news for those who are looking for more or for something better. But, the search takes courage. It confronts, convicts, and challenges. It forces us to consider the most important questions of life and, if we learn, discover afresh unsearchable riches of the ultimate Preacher-King.

Here is how our search will take shape over the next three months.

Ecc. 1:1-11 — All is Vanity
Ecc. 1:12-18; 2:12-17 — Knowledge
Ecc. 2:1-11 — Pleasure
Ecc. 2:18-26 — Work
Ecc. 3:1-22 — Time
Ecc. 4:1-16 — Evil
Ecc. 5:1-7 — Empty Religion
Ecc. 5:8-6:12 — Money
Ecc. 7:1-29 — Success & Suffering
Ecc. 8:1-17 — Fearing God
Ecc. 9:1-10 — Facing Death
Ecc. 9:11-10:20 — Advantages of Wisdom
Ecc. 11:1-12:14 — The End of the Matter

We hope you’ll join us. Let’s pray for fruit.

Christ is all, 
Pastor Adam

Feb 11
2019

Start the Year Taking Fresh Steps of Faith

Discipleship, Teaching | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

As most of you know, we concluded our 2019 New Year Essentials sermon series last week. This has become an annual set of sermons that address topics to which we must repeatedly return for God’s glory, our joy, and the good of others. Of course, this is not an annual repeat of the same sermons. Rather, they are different sermons that take different angles on subjects we need to come back to again-and-again. 

Here is how our series came together this year: 

Storing Up God’s Word

A Gospel-Forged People in a Divided Age

Rebooting Your Prayer Life

The Wonder of Jesus’ Local Church

My prayer for that series was for the Spirit of God to move each of us to take fresh steps of faith this year. Faith does not stay put for long. Faith moves (James 2:17). Faith is a living dynamic force, given and fueled by the Spirit, that changes our every day lives, in ways big and small, for the glory of God. 

That prayer is what led to my weekly challenges, to the entire church, throughout the series. Each challenge was a practical suggestion for how your faith in Christ might move you to take fresh steps in the area under consideration. Here are the four challenges I gave to the church: 

#1 Memorize one verse a week 

In a world filled with words, we won’t make it unless we’re being fed and fortified by the right words. We need unshakeable words of truth to give meaning, strength and hope to our lives. Those words are found in God’s Word. Of course, the amount of Scripture will vary from person to person. What matters is that you are stockpiling the riches of God’s Word in your heart. What’s your plan? 

#2 Do not mirror the divisions of the world, within the church, but heal them 

One of the purposes of the local church is to show the world the new kind of humanity God is forging in Jesus. Unfortunately, the local church can look just as divided as the world. What do we do? The healing we long for doesn’t occur automatically nor by blaming others. It occurs when each one of Jesus’ people decides, in faith, to be an agent of healing themselves. In this sermon, we considered ten attributes of a Gospel-forged people from Romans 12:9-21. What are two or three relational dynamics in that passage that Jesus is inviting you to grow in this year? 

#3 Refocus your prayer life

There is no other way to reboot your prayer life than to begin to pray afresh. To do that it is critical to not see prayer so much as a separate activity, or even means of grace (which it is), as much as a vital means of ongoing communion with God. In other words, if we’re not praying, we’re not communing. This week my challenge was twofold: (1) Read one book on prayer and (2) prioritize each of our church-wide prayer nights this year.

#4 Consider afresh the wonder of Jesus’ local church—and join in. 

Jesus’ local church is not one of the many options. It is God’s Plan A for spreading his glory through the salvation of his people among the neighborhoods of Seattle to the nations of the world. There is no such thing as a churchless or free agent Christian. That is largely a modern phenomenon. Though it is unfortunately common, it is irregular and unbiblical. This year, link arms with this local expression of Jesus’ people (or join another) if you’re not yet a member. If you are already a member, keep in mind that membership is a living commitment to a living people. In what ways might Jesus be inviting you to become more deeply committed to his people this year? 

Bearing Gospel fruit in our everyday lives

In all this, we must remember that none of these make us right with God, nor earn us more of his love. We have God’s love, in Christ, through faith. Full stop. That is not our doing, it is a gift of God (Eph 2:8). However, as the reality of God’s love sinks into our hearts, it bears grace-laden fruit, such as storing up God’s Word, healing divisions, renewed prayer, and a growing love for his church. Let’s ask God to use these massive gospel truths to bear lasting fruit in our lives this year. Who knows what He might do through us?

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam

Feb 4
2019

Missions Update: Sending Gil P

Missions | by Pastor David Parker

Downtown Cornerstone,

As Pastor Adam preached on yesterday, one of our prayers from the beginning of planting this church is that we’d be a church-planting church. Meaning, that we’d be able to raise up and send out our people to be a part of planting other churches, both in this city and in cities around the world. All so that more people would come to know, love, and trust Jesus Christ!

To that end, it was my privilege to share yesterday (video below), that we will be sending one of our members, Gil P to Chad, Africa, to join a church-planting team working with the Makanese people. This tribe is made up of over a million people in Eastern Sahara that have never had the opportunity to hear of God’s love for them through Jesus Christ, have a bible a bible in their own language, or a church to gather with. By God’s grace, the team she is joining is seeking to change that!

If you’re wanting to learn more about why Gil is going to an unreached people group, and the state of the missionary efforts in the word, this is a helpful short clip explaining the great need that still exists.  

HOW YOU CAN PARTICIPATE

  • Learn: If you missed joining us on Sunday, watch the video below, or linked HERE to learn more from Gil.
  • Pray: Sign up to receive updates and her newsletter HERE
  • Meet-up: If you are interested in learning more about how you can support Gil, drop her a note.
  • Donate: Lastly, if you are interested in helping support our sister with helping her meet her one-time startup costs or ongoing monthly support, you can contribute HERE. †

BE PRAYING

  • That Jesus would provide for Gil’s every need and that she’d be fully funded by the end of February.
  • That God would give Gil humility, grace, and perseverance as she leaves Seattle, transitions to a new culture, and learns a new language (Chadian Arabic).
  • That God would be preparing the Makaneses’ hearts to receive the Gospel.
  • That we, as a church, would be a faithful sending church to support our sister well until the work is done, he leads elsewhere, or Jesus returns.

The plan right now, is to send and commission Gil the last Sunday of March. Until then, she’ll be around for the next month or so, and then grabbing some time with family before heading out to Chad the first week of April.

Let’s keep praying that Jesus would raise up more men and women in our church that want to boldly live and proclaim the Gospel and that we’d get to see more churches planted in Seattle and around the world!

-Pastor David

† As a Global Missionary Partner, we, as a church, are funding Gil with about a fifth of her monthly budgeted need. So if you are giving to DCC, we’re all funding her in some way. However, we know that many of you are looking for ways to give above and beyond your normal giving to DCC, and would love the opportunity to support our sister in this way.

Feb 1
2019

Stories of Grace | Hope for the Trampled Heart

Stories of Grace

“The Stories of Grace series is intended to capture snapshots of God’s grace and glory amidst our every day lives. They are real stories of real people who have seen the fingerprints of God amidst the ordinary—God’s favorite canvas. Each story is personal, unique and, often, unfinished. Through it all we get glimpses of God’s steadfast love, sufficient grace, and ongoing presence with his people.” 

I recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone.” Although I don’t fully endorse Alanis Morrisette’s theology, the first line of her song “You Learn” typifies the lesson God has been teaching me.  The last several years have been a journey of a trampled heart finding more hope and joy than I thought possible through a newfound confidence in my identity in Christ and understanding of God’s sovereignty.

Two and a half years ago, I lost my husband, Spenser, to suicide.  Spenser’s death left me in a confusing wake of grief and relief, a horrific end to six years of a difficult marriage, and unveiled previously hidden wounds and weaknesses in my life and faith.  A month later, a close friend died unexpectedly and suddenly from cancer.  A year later, I lost another dear friend to suicide.  In the midst of all this loss, I was hit by more waves, as I struggled to make sense of a life that was much different than I thought it would be, battled health issues and injuries, and felt the weight of a demanding and stressful profession. Internally, I questioned God’s justice and goodness and doubted His love for me, and relationally, despite my sincere efforts, I failed to connect in community with other believers, sinking deeper into isolation and loneliness.

I feel as though I am often viewed by others in two extremes: one being that I am impossibly broken and too damaged for “normal” Christians to care for and know and the other being that I am impossibly strong, unaffected by my trials, and thus without any need for help or encouragement.  Both views are lies.  What is true is that I have been deeply wounded, but thankfully, God has never been and never will be surprised or overwhelmed by my brokenness or doubts. Rather, He searched for me and found me in my loneliness in the dark (Psalm 139:1). He is a true friend and cares for me.  I belong to Christ and He knows every ache and pain of my heart. He understands the isolation of grief and unkindness because He chose to experience it Himself through His life and death on the Cross.  And I do have a strength, but that strength is a gift from God that I fight to remember and renew each day by His grace and power alone.  I am full of insecurities and prone to bouts of pessimism and cycles of incessant introspection.  My flesh and my heart fail and I grow weary of doing good (Psalm 73:26; 2 Thessalonians 3:13; Galatians 6:9).  But the foundation of my faith is not my feelings or efforts, it is Christ and the work He has already done for me.  God strengthens my weak knees when I feel I cannot go on and comforts me when I feel isolated and misunderstood (Hebrews 12:12).  His Word reminds me of what is true when I get lost and confused by lies. There are still some days when I am unsure how I will get through the next day, but God’s love is steadfast and never ceases and His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:21-23).  He has been faithful to grow my ability to see beyond my circumstances, to doubt my doubts, and to trust Him to continue to be my good Father for the rest of my days and through eternity.

A dear friend shared with me some encouraging words on a particularly dark day that sparked an epiphany in my heart.  She reminded me that God doesn’t only see me healed from my wounds; He sees me simultaneously as I was before my wounds, now with my wounds, and in the future completely healed and resurrected.  He doesn’t promise that I won’t have scars or any memory of my pain and struggles.  After all, Jesus still has scars and the wounded Lamb is worthy, in part, because He was slain (Revelation 5:12).  God promises something better.  He will always be with me through every wave of loss and sorrow and wipe away every tear (Isaiah 41:10; Revelation 21:4).  He promises to eventually show me that every tear was worth the pain because my story is part of a bigger story that God has written and my scars have meaning and beauty that I trust will result in a deeper joy than I can imagine.

My foolish heart might still trade all that I have now for those I have lost and for the possibility of the fulfillment of the withered dreams that were, but I continue to pray for a steadfast faith that remembers that the path the Lord has me on now is what is best for me.  My life is not what I expected it to be, but I will fight to believe in the truth of Romans 8:28; that I have a Savior and perfect friend who loves me, has chosen me, and has sovereignly chosen these trials for my good and His glory.

I now have a deeper love for the Lord and understanding of His Word than I would have if God had not allowed my heart to be trampled. I know what it is like to feel Job 3 and Psalm 88 and through His grace and mercy have been able to imperfectly and humbly point other broken hearts back to Christ in a way I never could have if I had not felt that pain and walked the path I have walked. God has given me glimpses of sweet joy in my suffering and shimmers of peace that surpass all understanding (Romans 5:3-5; Philippians 4:7).  I am reminded that God will not break the bruised reed or quench the faintly burning wick (Isaiah 42:3); He does not despise the broken or contrite heart (Psalm 51:17).  So I am grateful to be bruised and slain by the hands of a sovereign, loving God (Job 13:15).

Though I may never experience the blessing of a loving family of my own, feel known and as though I belong in a church community, or see the friends I have lost again, by God’s grace I have been able to comfort others with the comfort He has given me (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).  And it is perhaps a better blessing for me to be able to love and care for others in the ministries and places that God has called me to.

As Alanis might say, “what it all comes down to, is that I haven’t got it all figured out just yet.” But I’m thankful for the strange but full, broken but beautiful, life He’s given me.  I pray for a heart that consistently laughs at the time to come and does not fear anything that is frightening (Proverbs 31:25; 1 Peter 3:6); and I set my hope towards the day when all things are made new (Revelation 21:5) and I will fully understand why every tragedy, every triumph, every tear, will be worth it in the end.

– DCC Member, Janiece

If you are a member with DCC and have a story of grace to share please email info@downtowncornerstone.org

Jan 31
2019

Mercy Ministry Update | January

Mercy Ministries, Mercy Update

The Mercy Ministry Updates are a regular snapshot of our Mercy Ministries in DCC, where we are working to serve and uphold the value and dignity of God’s most vulnerable image bearers in our city. Each update highlights one of our focus areas, as well as provide a listing of upcoming events, and current prayer requests across all of our focus areas.

Gospel Framework

The Bible, as God’s inspired word, displays God’s good design and our radical need for a savior, found only in Jesus, and calls us to live out our new identity in Christ as we engage the world around us.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another, do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor, and let none of you devise evil against another in your heart.”Zechariah 7:9-10

God speaks through Scripture to his people, calling them to faithful action to care for the most vulnerable people around them. Often in these instructions, we see four populations listed – the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, the poor – as a description of those who were most vulnerable in their midst. And we also often see these instructions intermingled with instructions to care for brothers and sisters (“one another”), which is to say, the love that we have for those who are vulnerable is not some “out there” love but a “from here” love that starts in the family of God, rooted in God’s love for us. We love because he first loved us, and has given us the commandment to love others. (1 John 4:19,21). This is good news for us because it means we can put the love of others into practice right here in our church and in our city.

Mercy Focus Highlight: Understanding Disproportionality

As a church we support and partner with several mercy ministries and want to share and highlight their on-going work.

Racial Disproportionality, that is, the underrepresentation or overrepresentation of a racial or ethnic group compared to its percentage in the total population, is a reality in every one of our mercy focus areas (Life/AbortionFoster Care/AdoptionJuvenile DetentionSex TraffickingHomelessness, and Refugees). This means that people, families, and communities of color are more affected than white people, families, and communities (in King County and nationally). So as we care for the most vulnerable populations in each of these areas, we should seek to understand this reality so that it can inform our care. Other types of disproportionality also exist in many of our mercy focus areas, such as the economic disproportionality of women seeking an abortion, and even some interdependencies between them, such as children in foster care and juvenile detention, or juvenile detention and sex trafficking. Similarly, those whom we seek to serve in these areas have, without question, experienced trauma, which likewise informs how we understand and care for them.

These factors lead us to understand the complexity and scope of sin’s impact on our world. In turn, this should also lead us toward increased empathy and informed care for those we serve and increasingly see the measure of Christ’s gift to us in our salvation. As we simultaneously see the depth of sinfulness and brokenness of the world around us and the height of God’s love for us in Christ, we will move toward others in love as he has loved us.

Upcoming Events

Not all events are sponsored or hosted by DCC, but serve those in our focus areas. See linked details for each.

Partner Prayer Requests

Please join us in praying for the people impacted and involved in each of these focus areas.

Refugees

  • Praise God for answering the prayers of World Relief and others, as the federal government announced that it will continue working with all of the organizations that work to resettle refugees in the U.S.
  • Pray for those seeking entry into the US, with the recent drop in federally allowed refugees, and elsewhere – that they would be provided for and cared for by the church globally.

 Foster Care & Adoption

  • Kids in extended foster care – if a child doesn’t have permanency at the age of 18 then they can apply to be in extended foster care, a program for 18-21 year-olds. Pray they would learn the skills they need for independence, and that they might not lose hope of having a family and a place to call home. 
  • Kids aging out of foster care – this is one of the most vulnerable populations of kids. They leave foster care without support and are susceptible to a variety of different dangers from sex trafficking to drug and alcohol abuse to homelessness. Please pray that God would move in the hearts of those families that He wants to adopt the children aging out of foster care.

Sex Trafficking & REST

  • By God’s grace, REST has seen their ministry grow significantly over the last few years, and with that has come to the need for new office space. Please pray with REST as they search for office space in Seattle for their administrative team so that they can continue to serve the survivors they work with as effectively as possible.
  • As we enter 2019, let’s also be praying for God to transform hearts throughout our city and area. Let’s pray that God will bring many people out of brokenness and into faith and relationship with Him, and let’s pray that He works in and through REST for His glory and the good of many!

Homelessness & UGM

  • In 2019 we want to double the number of mentors in our men’s recovery program, going from 20 to 40. Please pray that God would call the next cadre of mentors to the Mission.
  • Safety and protection of our homeless neighbors during the wind, rain, and cold of the winter months.  

Juvenile Detention

  • Please pray for God to comfort the children that are away and have been away from their families and loved ones during the holidays and who may be feeling particularly lonely and without hope. 
  • Please pray that God would open the eyes and hearts of these children to see the real hope they have in Christ despite the circumstances in front of them and for the Lord to put people in their lives that can encourage them to place their trust in Jesus and grow to be more like Him.

Life & CareNet

  • Continued favor in the Communities CareNet is serving – For open doors with the social services agencies and health facilities, that these agencies will see the benefits they offer to clients
  • New Mobile schedule in 2019 – For direction and provision as they expand their schedule to include DCC and more hours in current locations 

Stay Connected

Join the focus area city groups in order to hear more regular updates, events, and opportunities to serve.