Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Feb 2
2012

Join Jesus’ Mission: Five Practical Principles

Teaching, Uncategorized | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

On Sunday I planned to offer some practical help on how to engage others for the purposes of the gospel based on our text, Acts 8:26-40, but I ran out of time. If you missed it, you can listen to or read the sermon here. There was too much gospel gold to serve up in one sitting. What follows compliments what has already been said there.

God’s Heart

One of the reasons I love this passage is that it shows us so much about the heart of God. It shows us that God loves those who are really, really, really far from him. It shows us that God can use even the briefest, chance encounters to effect eternal change. It shows us that God is weaving a story beyond our comprehension. It shows us that he invites us in to be part of the action as conduits of his grace.

Where Do I Start?

One of the questions I often get is “Where do I start?” Many of you want to participate in God’s mission of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ, but you don’t know where to begin. This passage gives us some help to do just that. What follows are five practical principles for joining Jesus’ mission, based on Acts 8:26-40.

#1) Keep it Simple. Don’t over-complicate what it means to live life with gospel-intentionality. You don’t need to carve out 10 extra hours a week. No one has 10 extra hours in their week. Rather, ask yourself, “Where is God already at work?” and then, “What would it look like for me to join him in that?” We don’t know exactly what Philip was doing when he heard the angel of the Lord tell him to head to the desert, but we do know that he was (1) in a place to hear the Lord and (2) ready to follow Him. Are you? Keep doing what you’re already doing, but with ears ready to discern where God is working and a spirit ready to obey. Keep it simple.

#2) Ask Questions and Listen. (Acts8:30,34-35) The very first thing that Philip did was ask a question, Do you understand what you are reading? That’s a good principle. It is easy to assume that we know where people are at and what they are thinking. But, often, the truth is we don’t. If we’re ready to share the gospel of grace, we must also be ready to tangibly demonstrate that same grace by patiently asking questions and listening to others – that’s just love. When the timing is right, they will eventually ask, How can I, unless someone guides me? You’ll be surprised how people will express interest in your beliefs, if you do the same for them.

#3) Use the Word of God. (Acts 8:35) We are told that, beginning with this Scripture [Philip] told him the good news about Jesus. He started with the Scriptures. When possible, we should too. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. The Spirit uses His inspired word to work faith into hearts. There is no other way to say it, other than it is a supernatural work. I experienced this first hand when I became a Christian. This means it is important for every follower of Jesus to, not only have a Bible readily available, but also have some verses that you can quote from memory, such as John 3:16, 1Jn 4:10, Rom 5:8, Eph 2:8-9, Rom 6:23, John 1:12, etc.

#4) Open Your Mouth. (Acts 8:35) This almost goes without being said. Almost. We have to open our mouths. Yes, we need to pray. Yes, we need to demonstrate the grace, mercy and transforming effect of the gospel in our lives. Yes, often others need to know that we care, before they will care about what we know. But, there comes a point where we must open our mouths to communicate the life-changing, world-altering, sin-forgiving news of the gospel. Much wisdom and love is required to walk this tension.

#5) Lookout for Hungry Hearts. (Acts 8:28) If you want to share the gospel with others, look for hungry hearts around you. Who is seeking? Who is asking questions? Who seems to be interested when you talk about church, the Bible or Jesus? Who is going through a rough season of life and potentially more open to talking about deeper things? If there are people around you that this is true of, that’s from God. It’s not a guarantee they will turn to God, but it is a sign that God is stirring faith in them. Act on that. Pray for everyone, but lovingly pursue hungry hearts.

So, where will you start? Invite neighbors over for a monthly BBQ? Ask a co-worker out for lunch or coffee? Be more intentional with that one friend? Adopt a Real Change seller downtown? Pray for greater sensitivity to the Spirit’s movement? Look at everything you’re already doing, and everyone involved in what you’re already doing, and ask, How can I best live every day, ordinary with gospel intentionality? Just start and watch Him work.

Jan 17
2012

You + God + Church + 2012 = What’s Your Plan?

Uncategorized | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Every January there is a flurry of blog posts and encouragement to make a plan for your personal reading of the Bible in the new year. That’s good. But, the reality is you may already be behind or too busy to come up with a plan. I can imagine the deeply skeptical among us already saying, “Well there’s always next year.” We’re only 17 days in! It’s never too late. The reality is that we can begin any time, but the dawn of a new year is a helpful starting point.

Why should I read my Bible?

Reading your Bible isn’t about just “reading your Bible”. To read your Bible is to listen and interact with God, which is why it is so important. When you read your Bible you learn about God (“In your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Ps16:11), Jesus (“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…” Jn1:1), His promises (“I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mt28:20), His Gospel (“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son” Jn3:16), ourselves (“you were dead in your sins and trespasses in which you once walked..” Eph2:1), get encouragement (“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want…” Ps23:1), learn about sin to avoid (“Put to death therefore what is earthly in you…” Col3:5), experience certainty (“it seemed good to me…to write an orderly accounr for you…that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Luke1:3,4), learn of our future hope (“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth…” Rev21:1) and MORE.

Is this just a form of brainwashing?

In a way, yes. Christianity says that, by nature and choice, our brains are dirty – and, thus, need to be washed with the Truth of God’s Word. The theological idea in view here is the noetic effect of sin. “Noetic” means “mind”. Sin clouds our ability to see, think and understand rightly. The Bible says we are darkened in our understanding (Eph4:18). But God “has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2Cor4:6). If we want to counter the noetic effects of sin, grow in Christlikeness, experience freedom from sin and enjoy the life God has for us it is vital to get the Word in us – not just get in the Word. It revives the soul, makes wise the simple, enlightens the eyes, and endures forever. (cf Ps19:7-11)

Where do I start?

First, get a good Bible.
No, really, for personal study and devotion you need a good Bible. There are a number of things to think through, including:

  • Translation: For personal study, I recommend the ESV. The NASB, NKJV and NIV are also good options. There are three that I encourage you to avoid: Avoid the New Jerusalem Bible (Catholic) which includes some apocryphal writings, inserted after the canon was close. Also avoid the New World Bible as it is a translation created by the Jehovah’s Witnesses. Lastly, avoid the NRSV which takes unfortunate liberties in the name of cultural engagement.
  • Font: Is it comfortable to read for short and long stretches of time?
  • Paper quality: The quality of the paper is important when it comes to highlighting, making notes, etc. Does everything bleed through or will it withstand the devotional onslaught of a Jesus-follower?
  • Binding: You don’t want your Bible falling apart.
  • Cover: Paperback is fine, but at some point you’ll want to upgrade to a nicer leather version because it will last longer – and smell better!
  • Cross-references, maps, etc: You’ll also want to examine the cross-referencing system. Does your Bible have one? Maps? Concordance in the back to look up terms/words?

 

Second, if you’re a new Christian and/or new to the Bible, get an ESV Study Bible.
One of the best things I did as a new Christian was to get a study bible that helped explain the text, define terms and connect the dots. If you don’t have that help, you need it or you may grow discouraged along the way. If you’re constantly trying to define terms and figure out what’s going on, you’ll likely miss what God is trying to show you. A study bible can help with that and the ESV Study Bible is the best available, no question. If you don’t have the financial resources to purchase one, please let us know and we will ensure you are provided for.

Third, find a plan.
There is nothing that will keep you away from the Bible like not having a plan. If I don’t have a plan of some kind, its hard to know where to start. ESV has provided a number of different plans here. I also put together a plan that combines two of my favorites here. A healthy first goal is to read through the entire Bible in 1-2 years. It will help give you a sense of the storyline and how it all fits together. If at any point you don’t like you’re plan, you can always change.

Fourth, set a time and place.
Whether we like it or not, we are creatures of habit. We would never miss a meeting with the President of the United States, but we do with God all the time. Much of that is due to not having a particular time and place for it to happen – and then sticking with it. Look at your calendar and identify what is the best time to be with God. Consider it a form of tithing – tithing off the first fruits of your day. For me, that’s the morning. For others, that may be the evening. Personally, my primary devotional time is in the AM, separate from any sermon prep (though clearly that is devotional in nature as well) and end the day with a word from the Psalms – filling my mind with just a bit of truth before hitting the hay.

Fifth, record what you’re learning.
Your Bible reading will be transformed if you interact with the text in writing. The goal isn’t just to get in and out as quickly as possible. The goal is to get something from it, every time you go in. Get a journal, small notebook or use your computer. Write out the verse(s) that stand out to you every day and prayerfully write out a prayer to God based on that text. The Holy Spirit made it stand out for a reason. He’s personal like that. If you know you’re looking for at least one Word for the day from the Lord, it will make your reading come to life and will give it an added dose of expectancy.

Sixth, develop a note-taking system.
This isn’t as crucial, but it can be helpful. Did you know that you can write in your Bible? I thought that was sacrilegious as a new Christian. Star. Underline. Circle. Comment. Put dates next verses that are significant markers. Put names of friends and family next to verses that you’re praying for others. Right now I use a red pen for anything, from Genesis to Revelation, that deals with Jesus. I use blue for anything related to God, his Word and his character. I use purple for God’s promises and/or anything that provides encouragement and comfort. I use brown for sin and examples to avoid – avoid brown! I use green for anything related to God’s mission – sending, calling, proclaiming, etc. It really does make the Bible come to life and you’ll see connections you never saw before. But, what matters most is that you find something that works for you.

Seventh, read your Bible in community.
In other words, share what you’re learning with others. What is God convicting you about? How is he encouraging you? How is the gospel becoming more meaningful? There is nothing more sharpening than being in relationships where this type of honest, reflective sharing is taking place. Avoid the discussions that focus on Bible trivia, while emphasizing looking for how the text points to Jesus and his work. If you’re not in one, join a Discipleship Group, where this form of community and discussion take place. Talk to your community leader for more information.

To discuss this post, or ask additional questions, please log on to The City.

Nov 3
2011

November Prayer Night Date Change

News, Uncategorized

This month, our Prayer & Vision Night will occur on the third week of the month rather than the fourth due to Thanksgiving! Please join us at the Westin Building (6th & Virginia) on Thursday, November 17th @ 6:30pm, as we gather together for an evening of prayer, vision and worship. This event will occur in lieu of our normal weekly community rhythm, and will be an opportunity to go before our Father, asking Him to do what only He can do.

What will we do?

VISION: We’ll talk about where we are and where, by God’s grace, we are going.
WORSHIP: We’ll sing to the King.
PRAY: Most importantly, we’ll pray, asking God to do what only He can do.

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven…’” (Mat 6:9)
“Pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” (Mat 9:38)
“…that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Lk 18:1)

Oct 31
2011

Don’t Forget to Fall Back!

News, Uncategorized

This Sunday, November 6th Daylight Savings will end, so don’t forget to turn your clocks back one hour earlier (if it doesn’t automatically update) so you can arrive to the Sunday gathering on time. Please take note and spread the word.

Apr 18
2011

It’s Official! Downtown Cornerstone is Acts 29

Uncategorized | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Last week we received news that Downtown Cornerstone is officially a full-member of the Acts 29 Network. Acts 29 exists to train, resource, assess and network like-minded church planters around the world. You can read the interview with Pastor Adam HERE.

——

“Acts 29 is seeking to get behind the men who are planting churches by:

  • covenanting with them under the gospel
  • training missional leaders formally and informally
  • networking with men in different denominations and networks for the kingdom good of the city,
  • resourcing planters with the tools they need to develop in a healthy manner
  • multiplying the gospel through church-planting as a means to make disciples of all nations
  • inspiring them as Spirit-empowered leaders, united with this gospel community of Acts 29 churches, on mission together for the glory of God.


Acts 29 is not a model or a style. We have classical church plants with a preacher and a congregation, we have video-delivered sermons, we have missional community models, replants, and existing churches that want to plant churches with us. We seek to be a movement of church-planting networks – that is, decentralized and empowered networks to lead men of all different types of churches in order to make disciples of all people groups.” (HT: Acts 29 Network)

Mar 7
2011

Seeking the Social Renewal of Seattle (?)

Uncategorized | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

We want to see spiritual, social and cultural renewal take place in Seattle. But, what does that actually look like?

This is the third, and last, in a series of blogs that will answer that question.

But first, some theological context. God’s ultimate aim is his glory (Mt 6:9, cf 1 Cor 10:31). He makes his glory known through His kingdom (Mt 6:10a), which exists wherever He rules over human hearts submitted to Him by faith. His primary plan for making this invisible kingdom visible is through the Church (Mt 6:10b; Eph 3:10). The Church receives power for this work through the Gospel (Mt 6:11;13; Rom 1:16).

In other words, the glory of God is made known through the invisible kingdom being made visible through the Church, empowered by the Gospel. Therefore, seeking the spiritual, social and cultural renewal of Seattle is nothing more than making the invisible kingdom visible in every sphere of life.

What does a socially renewed Seattle look like?

Downtown Cornerstone is committed to building a great city, not just a great church. Yet, these two are not opposed. A great church, comprised of sinners saved by the sheer grace of God in Christ, will build a great city. So, practically speaking, what does it look like to socially renew Seattle? Not through imperialistic, patronizing, holier-than-thou fundamentalism; but through the faithful presence of Jesus’ followers in the city. What follows are some examples of just that. In a socially renewed Seattle:

  • There are increasing levels of forgiveness, patience and reconciliation happening between classes and races (individuals, families, neighborhoods and institutions)
  • The “elites” of Seattle are repenting of their ambivalence and, in turn, getting involved with the needs of the people and neighborhoods of the city.
  • There are hundreds of cooperative efforts between the “haves” and “have-nots” bringing revitalization throughout the city.
  • There is a significant decline in wage theft among immigrant populations (a significant issue in Seattle)
  • The practice of human trafficking in Seattle is completely eradicate
  • Strong marriages are increasingly honored without ostracizing aging singles (the fastest growing population segment in the US)
  • Hurting marriages and families are being healed.
  • There are strong, high quality, schools provided for all children of the city (e.g. no difference between south and north Seattle).
  • Child abuse is experiencing a radical decline.
  • Sex between a married man and woman is viewed as beautiful; while the sex industry is shutting down.

This work is beyond the capacity of any single church, including Downtown Cornerstone. It’s for this reason that we don’t exist to merely see our church planted, but a movement of churches planted in Seattle and beyond. We invite you to join us as we embark on this impossible task, following the God of impossibilities (Eph 3:20-21).

Feb 7
2011

Must-Reads in 2011

Uncategorized | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Every January, without fail, the blogosphere is filled with lists and recommendations for books to read, things to do and places to go in the coming year. In order to avoid the new year blitz, I’ve waited until Febuary. There are still eleven months left in 2011, right? I regularly get asked, “What can I read to learn more about urban ministry?” There are many books on urban ministry. I propose the following list which addresses various areas important to cultivating a healthy newly forming urban church. It just so happens these correspond to what we most value.

Jesus

ESV Study Bible
Jesus Storybook Bible (kids 2+ years old)
The Rhyme Bible Storybook (kids 0-2 years old)

Gospel

The Gospel Centered Life (World Harvest)
The Prodigal God, Tim Keller

City

Theology as Big as the City, Ray Bakke
Cities of God, Rodney Stark

Church & Mission

Total Church, Tim Chester & Steve Timmis
Tangible Kingdom, Hugh Halter & Matt Smay

Renewal

Ministries of Mercy, Tim Keller
Generous Justice, Tim Keller
You Can Change, Tim Chester
Culture Making, Andy Crouch

Multiplication

Church Planting Movements, David Garrison

Jan 28
2011

“Do I Have to Move Downtown?”

Uncategorized | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

“Do I have to move downtown in order to partner with Downtown Cornerstone?” That’s a common question. The simple answer is, “No.” Our aim is to connect urban dwellers (approximately 60,000) and urban workers (approximately 250,000) to Christ. While many have moved downtown, others live anywhere from Auburn (South) to Lynnwood (North). What we all share is a common love for the city and for Jesus.

While we highly encourage you to consider moving in order to promote the faithful presence of Christ through his people in the urban core, it is not expected nor required. Whether you follow, are curious, or are skeptical of Jesus – and love Seattle – we invite you to join us in community or Sundays at 10:00AM downtown. Who knows? Maybe you’ll feel compelled to follow Jesus’ lead and partner with us in planting this church – maybe even move.

Dec 29
2010

Support the Planting of the Gospel into the New Year

Uncategorized | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

We exist to build a great city through the gospel for the glory of God. This means our aim is to not merely build a great church, but a great city. Our welfare is deeply connected to the welfare of the city. We love Seattle and want all who live here to know their Creator, Jesus Christ. We are doing this by planting communities of Jesus-followers that enjoy God, redemptively engage the city and reach the world. We have a big vision, but to get there we need your help.

This is a great time to consider year-end giving or further involvement in 2011.

Pray.

We need prayer. For all our preparation, we cannot succeed without God building his church. Jesus promises to build His church and he does so through the faithful work, service and prayers of His people. There is much spiritual opposition, relational tension, financial strain and physical hardship involved in planting a church. Please join us in daily prayer to our God who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask, think or imagine (Eph 3:20). You can keep up with our prayer updates here. We’re still in process of finding 100 people to pray for us daily for one year. Let us know if you’d like to join the front-lines prayer team.

Join.

Whether you already live in Seattle, or Orlando, perhaps God is moving you to join us downtown Seattle. Are you a dreamer, builder, missionary, or faith-filled risk-taker? Pray about joining us, even moving, downtown. Some of you should consider raising support and becoming an integral part of this new work. You can learn more about our vision here.

Give.

Our aim is to be self-sustaining by the fall of 2014. Until then we are dependent on outside financial partners. In the life of a young, urban, missional church in a challenging context, every dollar makes a difference. Would you consider regular monthly giving over the next three years or a one time gift? You can learn more about giving options here.

Let’s build a great city together, through the gospel, for God’s glory, in 2011.