Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Jan 10
2019

Life in Community | Expectations of Community

Community

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. 

In his book Life Together, Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes both the blessings and the challenges of a Christian community and how our own expectations have a significant role to play in our participation in and experience of community. As we enter a new year and a new season with our communities, let’s consider what community is and what we can and should expect, as well as what we cannot and should not expect.

Christian community, in the broader sense, happens throughout the life of the church: in Sunday gatherings as well as in our Cornerstone Communities, Discipleship Groups, and interpersonal interactions. It is a gift for believers in the present church age used to strengthen, equip, build-up, encourage, exhort, and care for one another. In DCC, we speak about our Cornerstone Communities as the place where we can get to know others and be known by others; where we primarily live out the “one another” commands to love our brothers and sisters in Christ; and where we form meaningful, mutually-edifying, discipling relationships. And it is our sincere desire that everyone who calls DCChome would have such a community.

BLESSINGS OF A CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

Bonhoeffer describes the nature and very tangible good of the Christian community, which suggests some healthy expectations for community:

  • First, the desire for Christian community – the companionship and presence of other believers in our lives – is natural and reflects God’s own trinitarian nature in us as his image bearers. Moreover, God works through various means to achieve his purposes, and by his grace, we get to be part of those means in our care for each other such that when we visit, comfort, or exhort another we are a tangible sign of God’s grace to our brother or sister. So we should expect that we would show the love of Christ to others, and be shown the love of Christ by others (Gal 5:13)
  • Secondly, the Christian community is a gift and a privilege and not a guarantee or an entitlement. Like any of God’s gifts, God distributes according to his varied grace (1 Cor 12:18). Realizing it is a gift should lead us to thankfulness for what we have received. It should also lead us to understand the purpose of a Christian community, like the other gifts, is to build up the church and should be motivated by love for others (1 Cor 12:7, 13:1-13).
  • Thirdly, we have only one foundation for this community: Jesus Christ, who is our peace with God and with each other. Christ’s work on our behalf enables us to be in relationship with God and with other adopted sons and daughters in his family (Eph. 2:13-14). We should expect that we have this common ground that brings us together, and that our community is not rooted in anything else. Of course, it is great to find shared interests with those in our community, but those shared interests are secondary and are not required for a Christian community.

CHALLENGES OF A CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

Bonhoeffer also speaks some cautions about community, particularly on our desires for and expectations of the community. He writes this:

Innumerable times a whole Christian community has broken down because it has sprung from a wish dream. The serious Christian, set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and to try to realize it. But God’s grace speedily shatters such dreams…. Every human wish dream that is injected into the Christian community is a hindrance to genuine community and must be banished if genuine community is to survive. He who loves his dream of a community more than the Christian community itself becomes a destroyer of the latter, even though his personal intentions may be ever so honest and earnest and sacrificial.

  • We can often import our desires to be loved, or expectations of others to be more to us than they ought, into our communities. And so we must be aware of whether or not we’re seeking community in and through Christ alone, or if we’re seeking something else. It is possible that we would make an idol out of the community (along with any other good thing) if we allow it to become the ultimate thing. (Phil 3:8)
  • We must realize that our Christian community is one that serves to point each other to Christ, and not to be Christ himself. We are not saved through a community, but we are encouraged and pointed to Christ in a community. (1 Cor 3:5-9) Realizing too that we’re not perfect, we should expect that there will be times when we sin against and are sinned against by others in our community. That does not mean we should seek to sin against each other, but rather that we should be in the practice of confession and forgiveness when we do sin (James 5:16, Col 3:13).
  • We must also be careful not to seek out simply the relational connection of human affection or emotional experience. Surely, we can hope to experience affection and positive emotions in our connection with one another, but this is a byproduct, not the end in itself, of the spiritual reality of being united in Christ and therefore must not be the driver for our expectations. In Romans 12:10 Paul actually instructs us to have brotherly affection – which is to say, we are to shape our affections for others in the body, not to base our participation in the body on our existing affections.

OUR ROLE IN A CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY

Taken together, these encouragements can help us calibrate our desires and expectations for our communities. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, they call us to participate in building these healthy communities. So, for those already in a Cornerstone Community, I’d encourage you in these ways:

  • Start with thanksgiving to God for the gift of community that you already have, rather than to lament the community you don’t yet have. Pray for those in your community – by name, and often. Reach out to others with prayers and encouragements for them.
  • Use your gifts to serve and encourage others in love, for God’s glory and their good. Ask “How might God use me to bless those in my community?” rather than asking “What will I get from this community?”
  • Commit to being an active part of your community. You can only grow in knowing others and being known by showing up. Invite those who are new to your community to grab a coffee and start to get to know each other.

If you’re not yet in a Cornerstone Community, get started with the Foundations class, which lays the groundwork for our life together in DCC. The next class starts this Sunday, 1/13, at 9a. You can read more details and register here.

Oct 5
2018

Stories of Grace | How God is Redeeming my Asian American Identity

Community, 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.”

“What’s it like being Asian here?”

I’ve been asked this several times in Seattle, and I still don’t know how to answer this question. I’m an Asian American, and among many other first-generation immigrants, we are often times called “third culture kids,” because we’ve created a third culture among ourselves that is neither truly “Asian” nor truly “American.”

As a result, much of my life has been a quiet tug-of-war, of never quite fitting into the Asian norms or high expectations set by my family, but also feeling like a foreigner to many American mannerisms. Was I supposed to stay silent or speak out? Was I supposed to obey authority or challenge it? To me, it was a dichotomous place of tension I lived in, never really knowing how to reconcile the two cultures from which I learned.

Coming to DCC, the disparity of Asian and minority representation in leadership was something I acknowledged but was not unaccustomed to. I grew as a believer in predominantly white churches, but the personhood of Jesus Christ always made me feel so close to Him and His people, despite our ethnic differences.

It wasn’t until recently that I felt safe enough to talk about my Asian quirks and heritage to non-Asians here. I attribute this space of comfort to my community, which has taught me so much about God’s acceptance and love far beyond any body of Christ I’ve encountered.

I moved from a group of Asian Americans to a community of majority white members. I knew my community cherished me, but there were many times I still felt on the fringes, catching the tail ends of pop culture references and missing punchlines to jokes. Those were the moments I asked myself, can a Christian feel lonely even among Christians? How terrible if this were the permanent reality—of being not only a stranger to this world but also a foreigner among other believers as well?

But thankfully, this was not the plan God had for me. After a year of persistently attending community, sharing vulnerably with my discipleship group, and receiving an abundance of generosity from my Christian friends here, I’ve been deeply filled and refined into a godlier woman.

When I was overwhelmed and pining desperately to leave Seattle, it was my Scottish-Swedish friend who comforted me when I had no words left to say. When I was flailing for friendship and laughter, it was my German friend who brought me ice cream and took off her make-up alongside me. When my lease ran out of time and I didn’t have a place to stay, it was my Jewish-German friend who immediately offered her place for me to stay. When I was harassed on the street and felt completely helpless, it was my German-English friend who empathized with and comforted me. When I was stressed from the demands of work, it was my German-English friend who gave me perspective and reminded me of the grace of God. When I felt stagnant in my faith, it was my Chinese friend who consistently prayed for me and challenged me to think beyond myself.

I say all of this to remind myself that the Lord provides, loves, and restores. He created me with black hair, brown eyes, and a small frame. He created me and put me in an Asian household among American neighbors. He planted me in Seattle and watered me slowly, nurturing me through interracial friendships and a church that is becoming more and more diverse.

For most of my life I had always believed that ethnic differences were divisive. But I’ve learned that humility, vulnerability, and intentionality regardless of race are the things that break walls of judgment and lies about people. I’ve received such deep love from these brothers and sisters that I want to continue demonstrating the same kind of God-given love to those in the next chapter of my life, whether or not they are Asian or American.

“Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.” -Colossians 3:11

-Michelle Shieh, your Taiwanese-Japanese-American

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

Sep 27
2018

Life in Community | Why Community?

Community, Discipleship | by 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. 

— 

On most Thursday nights, I come home to our living room set up with all the folding chairs we own. The table is cleared of the usual place settings to make room for a potluck buffet. In a few minutes, somewhere between ten and twenty people show up, placing food and drinks on the table, catching up with each other, and marveling as the kids run in circles around it all. Is it a party, every week? Sometimes it feels that way, but in reality it’s our community gathered for quality time together over a meal, studying and discussing God’s word, and praying for one another.

As we go around the circle and share the evidences of grace we’ve each experienced that week, I marvel at how quickly these people, once strangers, have become family. I reflect on how these brothers and sisters in Christ have more in common with me than many of my own biological relatives, despite some being a decade younger or older, some of a different ethnicity and race, some of a different political persuasion, and some with different educational and economic backgrounds. At times I may have preferred an evening out with coworkers, but God has used the diversity of His body to challenge my assumptions and bring fresh conviction, expand my understanding of grace, and grow me in my compassion for others. What could bring us together, week after week, to form meaningful, mutually encouraging, discipling relationships where this sort of personal change could occur? Nothing but the love of God found in Jesus Christ, experienced by us all and lived out together.

In all the circles I find myself in, the bonds within the Body of Christ are the strongest. No matter how much my graduating class has shared experiences, my coworkers have shared goals, or my friends have shared interests, nothing brings together as diverse a people in as meaningful ways as the gospel of Jesus Christ. This amazing gospel brings us into a restored relationship with God and adopts us alongside others into a new family who now share a common identity.

This is Christian community. We, the adopted sons and daughters of God, are now part of God’s family, citizens in His kingdom, members of His body, and stones in His temple. We gather throughout the weeks and across the city in people’s homes in these Cornerstone Communities, intentionally living our lives together, so that we might encourage, and be encouraged by, one another in our faith. Throughout the history of the church, brothers and sisters in Christ have met together in similar fashion. The early church in Jerusalem is described in Acts chapter 2 this way:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.  – Acts 2:42-47 

The heart of Christian community is relationship. We structure our Cornerstone Communities by neighborhoods in hopes of best facilitating shared life together. It is our prayer that everyone who calls DCC home will find this kind of genuine life-on-life community, where they can be known, encouraged, and challenged in their faith – and do the same for others. Here’s my encouragement…

  • If you’re already part of a Cornerstone CommunityI hope you’ll continue to press in and use your gifts for the upbuilding of those in your community.
  • If you’ve been on the fringe of a community and haven’t been regularly connected, we’re just kicking off the year and now is a great time to jump back in.
  • If you’ve never been a part of a Cornerstone Community, sign up for the DCC Foundations class starting this week to learn more about who we are, what we believe, and how we operate as a local family and get connected! Register here
Jul 11
2018

Stories of Grace | Community Over Comfort

Community, 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 sink onto the stained and faded not-so-white carpet, surveying the cardboard boxes stacked half way to the ceiling. My fearless toddler free-climbs the newly formed summits. I call to her to descend and decide to leave the boxes hungry while I rest. Though tired and a bit overwhelmed, I pause to thank God for this entirely unexpected but miraculous move.

I’ve never lived alone. Born the youngest of three kids, I immediately moved into a full house. After high school, I moved into college dorms. I shared a house with six women and then my husband. I moved six times in less than four years, but not once did I reside on my own.

The summer following my senior year of high school I had no residence to call my own after my family’s house, the only home I had ever known, was foreclosed, and we were evicted. It was that summer I first lived with my friend, Anne Johnson.

I crashed on her couch until the dorms opened. We were roommates throughout college, which is where we met our respective husbands, who also happened to be high school best friends. We intentionally sought to be next-door neighbors, both couples renting apartments above our church’s gathering space in Pittsburgh, PA. When Ben and Anne moved to Los Angeles, we figured our co-residing days were past. But God had other plans and brought us all to Seattle.

We shared an apartment in South Lake Union until Ben and Anne were ready to become foster parents. God provided a home for me and Justin just two blocks away so we could continue to do life with the Johnsons. During our sabbatical, we asked God “What’s next?” He answered by providing a four-bedroom house in the heart of Capitol Hill so that Justin and I could begin our family while living with the Johnsons.

Many single people cut costs by communal living, and some married folks do as well. But two families living together seemed unique to many, enticing to a few, and flat-out absurd to others — namely our Washington State Foster Licensor. She sat across our dining room table, eyeglasses situated sternly on the edge of her nose, staring at us in disbelief.

“I just couldn’t understand why two families who were unrelated would ever want to live together. I thought you all were crazy. But now that I’m talking with you, I see what you have here is really quite special.”

God not only changed our licensor’s mind but He also moved mountains of paper work and bent bureaucracy to create our co-joined foster home. He fashioned a family that shares no DNA but dinner around the table every night. And then He nudged us to grow more. God laid it on the Johnsons’ hearts to extend hospitality to more children in need of a home, but we had run out of space in ours. We either needed to live apart or do the impossible of finding a five-bedroom house within our budgets in Capitol Hill.

With the unlikelihood of us finding such a house, the comforts and conveniences of living apart crept into my mind. I began to linger on how I could put things where I wanted them and not have someone else move them. I thought about a fridge full of food only I wanted to eat and having no parameters around using shared space. I could finally build my own little kingdom unchallenged by anyone else.

But as I pressed into prayer over our next living situation, the Spirit changed my plea from “Lord, provide a place for me to build my kingdom,” to “Lord, what will bring You the most glory? Living together or living separately?” As I prayed, I became confident He would provide the exact residence that would give the glory to Him rather than to me.

After several weeks of looking for our “unicorn” house in vain, we decided to stay in our current house until God provided a bigger space. Letting go of my fantasies of the control and comfort of living as separate households did not come immediately or easily, but I trusted this was the best option even if it felt like a sacrifice. But the Johnsons still wanted to grow their family, so as a last-ditch effort, we reached out to our landlords to see if we could convert the basement into a fifth bedroom.

“No. That’s totally illegal,” they responded, “but we have another larger four-bedroom house if you want to check it out.”

Though it lacked the essential extra bedroom, we agreed to look at it. The house happened to have a second living room space, which we asked if our landlord would be willing to convert to a fifth bedroom.

“Sure. I could do that. It’d take me a weekend to put up a wall and a door.”

We were astonished. Our God, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence that which did not exist, created the exact house we needed. And in doing so, He obliterated any bases for me clinging to my comforts over the narrative He was unfolding between our two families living together.

If you’ve ever done it, you know living with others can be tedious and frustrating at times. God has used those moments of unwashed dishes, misplaced items, and damaged property to again and again reveal the depths of my own selfishness and idolatry of comfort. Community living provides regular occasions to die to myself and out-do my brothers and sisters in showing honor, whether by taking out the trash or cooking a meal. Living with another person helps challenge the happy delusion that I’m in control and the world revolves around me. Multiply that by two families living together and the opportunities for conviction are constant.

But living in community with fellow believers yields far sweeter fruit than my creature comforts could. We enjoy a house filled with laughter and prayer, singing and always an extra set of hands, others to pick up the burden when one of us falls sick or exhausted. We play board games; we talk about what we’re reading in the Word; we sharpen one another.

There are days I’m still tempted to believe that conveniences of living as a single-family-unit outweigh the riches of living together. At those times, I recall how God has gifted us this house and that He is building His Kingdom, not mine. So I join Him by praying, “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done, in our home as it is in heaven.”

– Jen Keogh, DCC Member

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

Jun 27
2018

Cornerstone Community Update – Summer Schedule

Community, News | by Justin Keogh

As we enter the summer months and our city comes alive with sunshine, festivals, and cook-outs, so too do our communities shift gears to enjoy this short and wonderful season together. In years past, communities have seen great fluctuation over the summer months as folks take vacations, travel, hike, camp, and seek to engage with neighbors and coworkers during the extended sunlight. So this year, as we enter the summer, we’re intentionally planning for a shift of rhythms over the next two months. Understandably, this may raise some questions – and so I’ve captured some FAQ here.

Why are we adjusting our rhythms?

In part, there is a recognition that rhythms naturally change over the summer as mentioned above. But more than that, this is part of an intentional structure to enable rest for the community leaders and apprentices, women’s discipleship leads, and community hosts who faithfully serve during the year week in and week out. Rest is a means of grace and spiritual discipline, and is essential for the health of those leading, which significantly impacts the health of the communities overall.

What will our communities be doing?

We’ve encouraged the leaders of each community to pursue a rhythm that fits for their community this season. With 21 communities, that is likely going to mean 21 different plans for the summer – and that’s okay! Some communities are leveraging this time to seek intentional missional opportunities to host neighbors and non-believing co-workers; other communities are adjusting to serve together; still others are taking space for prayer and worship together. All of the communities will be doing something together, whether that’s a structured gathering or something informal, at least once a month over the summer (many doing more).

When will we be back to the regular rhythms?

We’ve set July and August as the designated time for this summer schedule, and will return to our regular rhythm of weekly discussion gatherings in September, following Labor Day.

How else can I stay connected over the summer?

There are a number of great ways to stay connected, even while our community rhythm shifts. Consider the following means:

1. Continue in worship on Sundays. While you’re at it, why not invite someone new to grab lunch following the gathering?

2. Continue serving, or join a service team. Our Sunday worship will remain and still needs your help to run smoothly. Not only does serving on Sunday bless the church body, it also creates and supports meaningful relationships with those that you serve with.

3. Continue meeting with your community in the adjusted rhythm. Just because your community may not be meeting for the regular meal and discussion, doesn’t mean the time isn’t relationally valuable. If your community doesn’t have plans set just yet – consider taking the lead to put together a social, missional, or service event!

4. Save the date and join us for our corporate gatherings this summer

  • July 31st – Prayer Night
  • August 25th – Summer BBQ @ Myrtle Edwards Park

What if I’m not currently in a community – can I still jump into a community over the summer?

YES! As mentioned above, there is still great value in being connected to other brothers and sisters in our local family. If you’re not yet connected to a community, check out the map of existing communities here to find out which community is nearby your home or work, and then email connect@downtowncornerstone.org and let us know which one you’d like to jump in to, and we’ll connect you!

 It is our prayer that everyone who calls DCC home will be meaningfully connected to others in our body for their mutual discipleship and spiritual up-building. If you have any questions on how best to get connected, don’t hesitate to reach out!

May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)

Jun 25
2018

Stories of Grace | Treasuring God’s Design

City Life, Community, 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.”

Three years ago I was on a plane, flying out of Honolulu. In the last week, I had stayed in a high-rise resort, dined at five-star restaurants, and visited the most exclusive venues. From my first-class seat, the ocean below was otherworldly, a perfect blue.

It was just another business trip: days overflowing with meetings and projects, and very little sleep. On these weeks, my colleagues and I arrived at the airport on Sunday morning at 5:00am. I traveled a few times a month – once, five times in five weeks. At home, I lived alone. In the office, I alone knew Jesus.

Before, the weekly presence of God’s family in my life had been constant. They were the people with whom I learned, sang, and prayed on a regular basis. Now, time together was rare. I read and prayed alone, and listened to hours upon hours of sermons. In isolation, luxury, and fatigue, the months passed in a blur.

This work was never meant to be a long-term situation, just a stopgap while I figured out what to pursue after college. But work and worry closed around me like a trap. The breakneck pace and all-nighters that were supposed to end after graduation only increased. I was too busy to let anyone into my life, too tired to have any profound time in the Word, and too stressed to think about making a change. Underneath the glamour, my heart felt deeply anxious. I knew, and learned again, that not even professional success can satisfy the deep places of my soul like Jesus can.

One year in, I took a long-planned mission trip with a small team. During those two weeks of kingdom work in Christian community, I knew more joy, more clarity, and more peace than I had known in months. God graciously gave me time to pray deeply with people, enjoy his company, and consider the direction of my life. Shortly after, I decided to trust God with my priorities, leave the familiar safety of my job, and move to Seattle after my projects ended to be closer to family.

The terrifying thing was that I didn’t know what was next. I had no job and no plan. But week by week, Jesus was with me as I prayed, thought, and researched. He encouraged me with his promises to sustain me and provide for me (Matthew 6:19, 25-34). A friend offered me a place to stay outside the city while I looked for housing. Two days before the move, God gave me a great job downtown. I unpacked and got involved with a gospel-teaching church near my friend’s house. All seemed to be falling into place.

But in the next few months, my social safety net unraveled. Best friends got married, moved churches, and drifted apart as they either neglected or forgot to live out the gospel and show grace to each other. I also struggled as a friend and roommate; the long commute and a shared room left little time for me to be alone with the Lord. After months of looking for an affordable place, and heartache over all the personal and relational failure, I moved into the city. I learned that not even my greatest friendships are as trustworthy as Jesus’ care.

It was wonderful to have my own room and to cut an hour each way off my commute. But it was very challenging to get to the suburbs during the week in time for community, and then back to the city. I asked Jesus what he wanted me to do.

A few days later, a work errand brought me past a large “EASTER” sign posted on a nearby building. Surprised to find a church two blocks away, I read its doctrinal statement and discovered with joy that it taught the gospel and the whole Bible. The first visit confirmed that it was indeed home. My church in the suburbs sent me off with their blessing, and I have been with DCC for the last two years.

My life is so simple and quiet compared to what it was three years ago. Instead of jet-setting for demanding projects or rushing through a work-filled week, I have time to be with the Lord and his people. For the past year, I have relished living in a house with four dear sisters in Christ and a family downstairs. We pray for each other, challenge each other, and delight in giving grace to each other. We host coworkers, family, and friends, making connections between them and disciples of them. I am daily in awe of God’s kindness to us. It is a mighty gift to know that my life’s greatest accomplishment is simply to know and love him and others in the ins-and-outs of life.

Two months ago, we were on the plane, flying out of Boston. A dear DCC sister and I had just spent a week walking, laughing, and learning about this city and each other. Every morning, we took time to be alone with Jesus. The trip used the last of my frequent-flyer miles from business travel. It was a special chance to celebrate not only a sweet friendship, but also the gracious way the Lord taught me to treasure his design of life together, for his glory and our joy.

“He brought me out into a broad place; he rescued me, because he delighted in me.” – Psalm 18:19

– Megan Addison, DCC Member

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

Apr 4
2018

Stories of Grace | Family Found

City Life, Community, 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.”

Almost eight years ago, my girlfriend at the time made a choice to pack her bags and leave the sunny shores of California for an internship opportunity in New York City.  She was confidently pursuing a dream that she had held for a very long time. I knew better than to be the one to stop her.

While Amy and I had talked about what it would look like for me to move to the East Coast as well, I was extremely hesitant to leave behind my very comfortable surroundings. Both of my parents were from families based in California. I had grown up my whole life in Orange County. Since as early as I could remember, I had been blessed in knowing and being known in church families that were integral parts of my life. From Christian summer camp friends, to small-group men that became roommates when I first moved out, I was never without friends and family close-by.

Yet despite all of these undisturbed comforts, God had begun to put on itch on my heart to leave California and follow Amy to New York.

Skipping many of the details of the way God “parted the sea” for my extremely effortless move to New York — which, talk to anyone that’s moved to New York from out of state, it’s not easy! — I soon found myself living in Brooklyn, only a block away from Amy. It was fall and the Christmas holiday was quickly approaching.

Amy and I spent Christmas together in New York that year. After doing our best to recreate the traditions we would both do with our families, we quickly realized how far removed we were from being with those people who were closest to us. We were those annoying family members who called and asked to be passed between all the relatives and family friends so we could feel like we were there.

Despite meeting numerous people over the next year, often we still felt like our closest friends were on the other side of the country. This stopped us, in many ways, from being fully present in several of the relationships and opportunities that God put before us.

Building into this same story, we were slow in finding a church to be a part of. Now, to be clear, we were going to church every weekend. In fact, we found the biggest reformed Christian church in the city and loved attending and soaking up the riches of the Sunday sermon.

But something was still missing. We were “attendees” of a church, and not creating relationships beyond the weekly meet and greet. Funny enough, the church was so big, we used to joke it wouldn’t matter if we remembered the names of the people sitting behind us, because the likelihood of actually seeing them again was so slim.

Having grown up in a family that was highly involved in the local church, I knew what we were doing was not “church’’. Going to church does not mean you are a part of the church. Even more so, we were going to church but had no desire to give back to the church.  It wasn’t until a year later when we were able to realize the joy of being a participating member of the church family. And what a difference it was.

By our second year in the big city, we stumbled upon another church we had heard about through the grapevine. It was another reformed gathering that had great music, good teaching, and people in similar stages of life as we were. The difference was it also had community gatherings, and the leaders often spoke about it and encouraged people to get plugged into these. Amy and I, now engaged, had never been a part of a community gathering in this type of sense.

In our remaining two years in New York, our Brooklyn community became a core source of support and friendship. And these were not just friends we would occasionally bump into. These were friends we would celebrate holidays and birthdays with, babysit for, ask for moving help from, road-trip with, call with heavy decisions to make, and much more. And yet, I will tell you emphatically — and this is not just because New York attracts the most unique people — we could not be more different from one another.  Something bound us together in a very fitting way.

I learned this is one of the hidden mysteries of Christ. Outside of any job or set of hobbies, any gender or ethnicity, any hometown or parallel past, Christ was the common bond that always rose above.  I had found a family of people that loved God and loved me for the imperfect sinner that I was.  We longed to do life with one another.

Reflecting on this experience reminds me of the verse in Revelation 7:9-10 that says, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

God, by His grace, continues to reveal this mysterious truth to me, even now in Seattle, where we’ve been for nearly three years. There is always a family, a local church, that God has prepared for us.  Always a family that is welcoming me “home” even if it is 3,000 miles from where I just was.

After learning the joys of being a part of community, you only can imagine how eager Amy and I both were to find a community when we first came to Seattle. In fact, I sent several emails to local churches asking to hear more about their community gathering.

I received a reply from the community deacon at DCC.  He excitedly connected me to the community leader in Queen Anne. Before I could even finish typing my “thank you” response, I received an email from the local community leader, himself. He wanted to know what service I typically attended so we could meet up that Sunday.

Once again, I am beyond blessed to say I have found a family like I could never have anticipated or imagined here in Seattle.  And this, I confidently know, is something God has prepared for any and all of His disciples wherever they go.

– Dave Osborne, DCC Member

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

Feb 21
2018

Meet Our Newest Elder Candidate: Luke Davis

Community, Discipleship, News

Downtown Cornerstone,

Last Sunday we presented Luke Davis to the church as a pastoral candidate. We are taking the next four weeks to give you time to meet with him, ask questions and/or express any concerns you may have. One of the over-arching qualifications for a pastor is that he must be “above reproach” (1Tim 3:1). This waiting period is our attempt to ensure all bases are covered and you have an opportunity to speak into the process.

The office of pastor (or elder) was created by God, for the leading, feeding, and protecting of his flock, the local church. Therefore, we treat the equipping and installation of such men with great seriousness – and joy!

Luke will not be on DCC’s pastoral staff (i.e. vocational pastor), but will serve as an elder in a volunteer capacity (i.e. lay pastor). Therefore, by necessity, the scope of his pastoral involvement will be limited when compared to a staff pastor. However, his service will be equally significant. As a non-staff pastor Luke will be involved with preaching, counseling, membership interviews, officiating weddings and funerals, elder meetings and practical leadership (which currently includes leading a Cornerstone Community). Our hope is to have many non-staff pastors in the future, as it helps diversify and strengthen the elder team and, therefore, the church.

Luke is a good man with integrity, love for Jesus, and for Jesus’ church. As elders we believe he is called, qualified, and ready to be installed as a pastor of Downtown Cornerstone. However, we are taking this time in case you know something that we do not.

That said, would you pray for the Davis’ in this season? Would you also pray for our church? It is a sign of God’s grace to us that we have men, like Luke, being raised-up to lead, feed and protect Jesus’ flock. Let’s ask Him for more.

Provided nothing arises that would cause us to stop the process, which we don’t foresee, we will install Luke as our fifth pastor, and first non-vocational pastor, on Sunday, March 18th. It will be a great celebration and a joyous moment.

What follows (below) is a short interview with Luke so that you can get to know him a bit better.

If you have any questions, comments or concerns you can email me directly at adam@downtowncornerstone.org.

Christ is all,

Pastor Adam

On behalf of the elders of DCC

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Q: How did you meet Jesus? How has he changed you?

LD: God was often on the perimeter of my mind making forays to the forefront around visits to church on Christmas and Easter. The rhythm of my relationship with Him drastically changed when dad decided our family needed to become faithful members of a local church. The timing coincided with my entrance into high school. As the message of the Gospel became clearer my heart put up a fight. I didn’t want to accept that I was busted without Jesus. But the Spirit patiently melted away my crazed attempt to grasp at some measure of merit and Christ became a living hope.

I guess just about every area of my life has been affected since following Jesus half a lifetime ago. We would not be in Seattle, for instance, were it not for submitting my vocation to His will. Jesus has been the closest of friends, fulfilling promise after promise. My marriage, family, and work have all been profoundly shaped by Him.

Q: Tell us a little about your family.

LD: My beautiful bride, Lynn, and I have been married for almost a decade (wish us a happy anniversary on March 8th!). Within those years we have welcomed William (10), Ezra (8), Rowan (6), and Haven (1.75). Our little girl is the lone Seattleite in the bunch. The rest of us hale from Florida.

Q: What are you most passionate about?

LD: I am deeply committed to seeing wisdom and virtue cultivated in the hearts of children. Paul admonishes all parents to bring up their kids in the discipline and instruction of the Lord; to lead them in the way of Jesus. It is a joy of mine to partner with parents as they pass on what it means to be human.

Q: How did you get involved with DCC?

LD: It was paramount for Lynn and I to identify a few churches where we could worship in good conscience while considering a move to Seattle. DCC, along with some other churches, appealed to us because of its theology and location. When attempting to line up some personal connections during a first visit to the city, David Parker’s warm communication and generous invitation drew us in like a beacon. Our very first impression of DCC was full of good conversation, camaraderie, Gospel care, and hospitality. The connection was set at that first meeting and we have been celebrating our local church ever since.

Q: What are your current areas of oversight?

LD: Within DCC I oversee the Belltown West Community.

Q: How did you determine you were called to be a pastor?

LD: I have desired to serve the church in this capacity for 16 years. At the simplest level I originally recall a pull to the pastorate when initially reading through 1 Timothy 3 as a young Christian. But discerning the pastoral call should never be done in isolation. The desire grew in clarity, understanding, and affirmation through wise counsel, prayer, and mentoring. My prayer is that our Lord may use me to help lead, feed, guide, and protect the flock.

Q: How can we be praying for you and your family in this season?

LD: Lord willing, I will be the first lay elder in DCC’s history. That distinction is attended by humbling honor and trepidation. Our pastors expend themselves, body and soul, for the welfare of the church. I need wisdom to walk out this call well in the midst of being a husband, father, headmaster, and citizen of Seattle. Please ask our Father for the grace to serve DCC well without betraying the other responsibilities in my life.

Additionally, my family has called Belltown home during the duration of our time in Seattle. As I write this I am surrounded by bins. We are moving just a couple miles east to the Central District within the next week. Leaving Belltown is going to hurt. But we are celebrating our transition to the CD. Please pray for quick connection with neighbors and vision for flourishing within a neighborhood full of historical hurt and triumph.

Thanks, Luke!

Jan 4
2018

New Connect Group Begins January 10th

Community | by Pastor Craig Sturm

Friends,

I hope you’re doing well and enjoying God’s gift of a new year!

As you plan and establish rhythms for the new year ahead, I want to encourage you to prioritize the local church and create space for God-centered, biblical community in your life. It’s our desire to see all our people connecting, sharing life, and forming communities that are deeply rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

We’re excited to launch a new Connect Group format to help foster this type of community and invite those who are brand new with DCC or have been participating with us for a while but have yet to get connected to community to jump in. The Winter Connect Group is kicking off on Wednesday, January 10th and is a great opportunity for those looking to build meaningful relationships within our church body!

The Connect Group is an introductory, 8-week group on Wednesdays at 6:30pm where you can meet new people, learn about biblical community, open and discuss the Bible, pray together, develop meaningful relationships for yourself and your family, and learn how to take steps for connecting with a long-term Cornerstone Community. The primary purpose and hope for this time is…

  • Belong. Providing a place for you to begin to build meaningful relationships for the purpose of discipleship.

  • Discover. Laying a foundational understanding and giving you a hands-on taste of biblical community.

  • Grow. Providing encouragement and steps for connection into a long-term Cornerstone Community.

Whether you’ve tried to jump into a Cornerstone Community before, had a hard time getting connected, or want to take the next step of getting plugged into meaningful relationships with our church, we invite you to jump into the Winter Connect Group.

Learn more about the content & schedule, and register here. Have questions? Email community@downtowncornerstone.org and we’ll follow-up!

Expectant and prayerful,

Pastor Craig Sturm

Nov 30
2017

Stories of Grace | A Mighty Love

Community, Stories of Grace | by Anne Johnson

“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.”

Walking through the book of Job and seeing the affliction and suffering he experienced, I’ve been reflecting on the story that God’s been orchestrating in my life. Like many, it has included several helpings of trials, pain, and suffering. There’s a sign in Swedish’s Cancer Institute office that says, “Cancer is a word, not a sentence.” Cancer is one of the major fears of our modern American culture and most people have been touched by it in some way or another, including me. I am two and a half years out from my diagnosis of cancer. Two years after my last chemo treatment and one and a half years out from my final radiation session. A friend asked “what do you think is the biggest thing you’ve learned through all this?” There are layers of what I’ve learned and, Lord willing, will continue to learn for years to come. But in the interim, I’ve learned about the Church and God’s power to move through it when we are willing to obey. When the Church keeps “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2 NIV), we are able to accomplish such grand things through Him who strengthens us.

I thought I knew what community was. I thought I grasped everything that God had to offer through His Church. After all, I was living in Christian community and had helped lead community groups. Service was one of my love languages and I’d always had a heart for social justice. But the riches of Christ are unsearchable (Ephesians 3:8). There is no end to the Alpha and the Omega. He is the beginning and the end, which is to say He is always (Revelation 21:6). It will take an eternity to try to understand what I thought I had on lockdown after little more than a decade of following Christ.

When I reflect on my cancer treatment, there is pain, both physical and emotional. There are moments that I hope never to experience again and pray no one else would have to endure. Make no mistake, it was not fun. But what comes into focus much more sharply is Love. Not the word love that we throw around when we talk about our favorite foods or movies. I am talking about Love that came incarnate through Christ. I am talking about the Love of a community that brought countless meals and shuffled children around. I am talking about the Love of a care package with all of the cancer essentials because friends cared enough to research what was best. I am talking about the Love of a 10 year old son who prayed every night that I would be healed from my cancer. I am talking about the Love of friends who changed a cross-country motorcycle trip they’d been planning for six years to better care for me and my family. I am talking about the Love of a community who asks how they can pray for you and actually prays with you in the moment. That is not the love we give to things of this earth. That is not the love that comes from human “kindness”, but the Love that is only possible through Christ Jesus our Lord.

I can only hope that I would be able to proclaim this great news had the cancer still been ravaging my body. I am healed in my body of a disease that threatened to take my life, but moreover I stand healed of the sin that threatened to take my soul, which is of immeasurably more worth and value. So my boast will not be in the healing of my body from cancer, but my boast will be in Christ who lives and reigns and invites me into eternal joy and life with him whether I die tomorrow or in 40 years. Like Job, my suffering helped me turn my eyes upward, fixing them on the Living God, and I’m praising Him all the more.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1-3 NIV

– Anne Johnson, DCC Member

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