Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Sep 17
2020

Who Does What in the Life of the Church?

Community, Discipleship, Global Issues | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Who Does What in the Life of the Church?

Downtown Cornerstone,

As I mentioned in my last piece, this season has revealed that there are widespread misunderstandings about what Jesus’ local church is meant to be and do—even among followers of Jesus. In this piece we will consider the role of the church in relation to the role of the individual Christian. Who does what?

This is approximately a ten minute read, so I encourage you to set aside some time to thoughtfully process.

How do the local church’s twin priorities of faith-filled proclamation and worship-full disciple-making (Mt. 28:19-20; Col. 1:28) connect to the rest of our lives—work and vocation, singleness and dating, marriage and family, trial and tragedy, conflict and conscience, hope and healing, manhood and womanhood, suffering and social issues, parenting and politics, guilt and good works?

If we misunderstand who does what in the life of the church we will misunderstand the individual role we play, neglect the privilege we have within God’s unfolding purposes, lose valuable opportunities to exercise our God-given gifts and passions, fail to love (even our enemies) as we ought, while (perhaps) assigning to others the joyful burden that is ours to bear for the good of the world. There is a lot at stake.

What Church Are We Talking About?

Let’s start with getting our definitions squared away. Clear definitions are our friends; vagueness and ambiguity are not. When we talk about the “church” it is easy to assume we are talking about the same thing. But, are we? Practically speaking, what is Jesus’ local church?

Jesus’ local church is a group of His born-again people in a particular location, created by the Spirit through the gospel of Jesus, set apart by baptism, united around the Lord’s Supper, who regularly gather together for worship, relationship, growth, and accountability under the leadership of pastors and service of deacons, for the glory of God and the good of the world.

So, when you think about “the church” you might think of its leaders (as its representatives), or the people (as its members), or the collective whole (as an institution). Which do you primarily think of?

If we think of the church primarily as “the leaders” we’ll place the burden of responsibility for the life of the church on the pastors. If we think of the church primarily as “the people”, we’ll place the burden of responsibility on the individuals. If we think of the church primarily as an “institution”, we’ll place the burden of responsibility on the organization, its structures, and processes.

Who then is responsible for fulfilling God’s purpose for his church? Is it the leaders, or the people, or the institution? Put simply, everyone is responsible, though in different ways. Understanding this is crucial to understanding the purpose of the local church and your role within it.

Who Does What?

The unique and central role of the local church, as an institution, is faith-filled proclamation of the gospel and worship-full disciple-making (Mt. 28:19-20; Col. 1:28). A healthy local church begins with the church, as a collective whole of God’s new humanity, being clear about what it is and is to be about.

Therefore, the unique and central role of pastor-elders (the NT treats these terms as synonymous) is to lead Jesus’ local people to fulfill that God-given purpose (1 Pet. 5:2). In other words, pastor-elders equip God’s people to protect, preserve and propagate the gospel (i.e. that’s proclamation) and walk as worship-full, Christ-exalting disciples in every day life (i.e. that’s disciple-making). In a word, pastors are equippers and that equipping takes place through the Scriptures, the Bible.

The unique and central role of Jesus’ people, then, is to live out this equipping in every day life. So, while pastors equip, Jesus’ people do the good works prepared for them by God (Eph. 4:12; 2:10). Of course, pastors are among Jesus’ people as co-laboring doers, but here I am speaking of the God-ordained uniqueness of these roles. So, let’s consider these differences more carefully.

What Pastors Do

The pastor-elders of Jesus’ local church are primarily equippers. In Ephesians 4:11-12, the apostle Paul explains that God gave leaders to his church to “equip the saints for the work of ministry”. Pastors are men of God, who are called and qualified by God, to unfold the Word of God, for the equipping of the people of God, to do the good works of God, for the glory of God.

Pastors are brokers of truth (2 Tim. 2:15), real reality, in a world gone awry and under bondage to sin (Rom. 8:21). They are trained in the Scriptures, the original languages, church history, biblical studies, systematic theology, christology, soteriology, pneumatology, ecclesiology, eschatology, hermeneutics, homiletics, apologetics, counseling care and more. Why? Because pastors are stewards of God’s truth (1 Tim. 1:4; Titus 1:7) for the equipping, flourishing, transforming, and joy-filled persevering of God’s people.

How do pastor-elders do this equipping? From the Scriptures. Paul explains in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that:

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, and for training in righteousness, that the man [and woman] of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”

In other words, pastoral equipping happens primarily through God’s Word in the Bible. God’s Word equips us for “every good work” (every one!) which is why it is His word that pastors must be able to teach (1 Tim. 3:2; 2 Tim. 2:24), rightly handle (2 Tim. 2:15), and hold fast (Titus 1:9).

Why? Because what we hold to be true gives shape to our lives, our relationships, our singleness, our marriages, our parenting, our vocations, our decision-making, our hopes, our suffering, our successes, our emotions, our evangelism, and our eternal future. This is why pastors must be able to correct those in error (2 Tim. 2:25) and identify whatever is “contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 4:3).

We also see a similar call to pastoral Word-based equipping in the great commission in Matthew 28:20 where Jesus tells the apostles to “[teach his people] to observe all that I have commanded you.” The leaders of Jesus’ church are to teach his people to walk in his ways. Where do we find Jesus’ ways? Again, in the Scriptures, all of which point to him (Lk. 24:27; Jn. 5:39). This is why Paul pleads with Timothy to “Keep a close watch…on the teaching” (1 Tim. 4:16) and to “guard the deposit” of truth entrusted to him.

So, the role of a pastor is not a junk drawer for anything-that-might-help-and-inspire-people.

Rather, pastors are men of God (1 Tim. 3:1-7), commissioned by God (2 Cor. 2:17), in the presence of God (2 Tim. 4:1), to preach (2 Tim. 4:2), protect  (1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14) and propagate the gospel of Jesus (2 Tim. 2:2), while equipping Jesus’ people to live as joy-filled worshippers through teaching, encouraging, loving, admonishing, and correcting (2 Cor. 1:24; Phil. 1:25; 2 Tim. 4:2; Titus 2:15).

Why? So that Jesus’ people progressively learn how to faithfully follow him in every day life, and all it throws at them, through the lens of God’s truth, whether amidst unwanted singleness or suffering, conflict or catastrophe, sin or social issues.

Therefore, pastors are not politicians, nor activists, nor community health workers. Pastors are not sociologists, nor businessmen, nor social workers. Pastors are not entertainers, nor managers, nor marketers. Pastors are not life coaches, nor strategists, nor creative visionaries. Pastors are not salesman, subtle comedians, or fashionistas. Pastors are not epidemiologists or experts in constitutional law. Christians may fill any one of these roles. But, those are not the role of a pastor. If a pastor wants to fill one of these other roles, he may, provided he understands those are fundamentally different than the role of the pastor. Yes, there may be overlap in areas. But, that does not negate the primary role of the pastor to lovingly lead a church to be about faith-filled proclamation of the gospel and worship-full disciple-making. Pastors are equippers from God’s Word.

Pastoral Equipping

As pastors we take this God-mandated, Word-based call to equip the saints very seriously.

  • This is why our Sunday gatherings are marked more by worship, than the weekly newscycle. Our gatherings are primarily vertical in nature, focusing on the reality of God, the unsearchable worth of Jesus, the presence of the Spirit, His inspired Word, the unbelievable news of the gospel, songs of praise, corporate prayer, celebration of His sacraments, as Jesus’ new redeemed humanity.
  • This is why we preach through the Bible verse by verse and treat truth with a joy-filled gravity.
  • This is why we equip on relevant issues such as abortion (like thisthisthis, or this), racism (like hereherehere and here, or herehere and here), politics (like this or this), every day suffering or what it means to be human.
  • This is why we give instruction, and gospel-informed encouragement, on how we are to treat one another amidst our differences and disagreements (like here and here).
  • This is why we write articles on our expectations, our pursuit of God, our longing for justice, our corporate prayer life, or how to make the most of a livestream gathering, and more.
  • This is why we offer classes on marriage, evangelism, unity and diversity, how Jesus changes us, meeting with God, how to study the bible, making disciples, discerning god’s will, developing relationships, singleness, parenting, missions, Christians in the workplace, theology, church history and more.
  • This is why we plan targeted workshops (like thisthis or this) and retreats (like this or this).
  • This is why we have created multiple channels by which to grow as a disciple, whether in community, or discipleship or an Equip group, or as a family, or in service, or city-based mercy ministries.
  • This is why we offer biblical care to those who are hurting or in need.
  • This is why we emphasize meaningful church membership.
  • This is why we aim to cultivate a culture that is God-centered, Jesus-treasuring, Spirit-empowered, bible-saturated, prayer-filled, mission-driven, disciple-making, church-focused, people-loving, and city-renewing.
  • This is why we, by God’s grace, aim for everyone who calls DCC home to grow in Him, with Him, for Him.
  • As we do all this, we then seek to equip others to take the same gospel across the street and around the world so that all people everywhere can know and belong to Jesus as we do.

These are just some of the ways that the pastor-elders of DCC, albeit imperfectly, are equipping God’s people to protect, preserve and propagate the gospel (i.e. proclamation) and walk as worship-full, Christ-exalting disciples in every day life (i.e. disciple-making) through God’s Word. In a word, pastors equip individual followers of Jesus with a biblical worldview for how to navigate life and all it throws at them.

What Christians Do

So, while pastors equip, individual Christians are to do the “work of ministry” (Eph. 4:12)Put simply, followers of Jesus are to put into practice the equipping they receive.

So, for example, the elders biblically equip on the wickedness of racism and the many ways it has given shape to the world we are in. Then, Jesus’ people seek to put racism to death in their lives, or peacefully protest, or write letters to their representatives, or create new policies at work, or invest in impoverished communities, or volunteer, or start a non-profit, or read more broadly, or befriend others who are different, and more. The pastors equip from God’s Word, Jesus’ people do.

Or, the elders biblically equip on the nature of earthly politics and its function within God’s greater kingdom purposes. Then, Jesus’ people seek to wisely and graciously serve as faithful citizens of the city of man, while their ultimate identity is found as citizens of the city of God. So, we steward our ability to vote, we listen to the viewpoints of others, we consider running for political office, and are careful not to bind consciences where God does not. The pastors equip from God’s Word, Jesus’ people do.

Or, the elders biblically equip, and model, the importance of ongoing discipleship. Then, Jesus’ people seek to welcome one another (Rom. 15:7), not judge one another (Rom. 14:13), instruct one another (Rom. 15:14), love and honor one another (Rom. 12:10; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:9), bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2), be patient with one another (Col. 3:13), teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16), encourage one another and build one another up (1 Thess. 4:18; 5:11), while holding one another accountable (Mt. 18:15-20). The pastors equip from God’s Word, Jesus’ people do.

Or, the elders teach how good works blossom in genuinely regenerate hearts (Eph. 2:10). They explain that practical love for others will flow out of God’s love for us in Jesus (1 John 4:7f) and that these works will be marked by the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). These good works will begin with the needs of those in closest proximity (Prov. 3:27; 1 Tim. 5:8) and prioritize those “who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10).

Then, Jesus’ people move into our fallen world, in ways big and small, to love their families and friends, neighbors and enemies. They stand up for the voiceless, oppressed, and trafficked. They weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom. 12:15). They come alongside those ravaged by divorce or poverty, famine or disease, abuse or adultery, homelessness or addiction. They care for single mothers, kids stuck in the foster cul-de-sac, and those burned over by the lies of the so-called sexual revolution. The pastors equip from God’s Word, Jesus’ people do.

Should Churches Lead On Social Issues?

So, in light of these distinctions, should churches lead the charge on social issues, or rebuking public officials, or advocating for specific public policy decisions? Well, again, we must define our terms. What do we mean by “leadership”?

Yes, if leadership is taken to mean spreading the gospel of Jesus, teaching biblical principles, identifying the root of evil and its manifold manifestations, heralding the riches of Christ, living for God, pursuing faithfulness, cultivating worship, loving our neighbors and enemies, and making disciples—disciples that then go on to lobby for change, write articles, become experts in tax law or foreign policy or community development, get involved in politics, start new organizations, get in the trenches as volunteers, and/or bring good works into their relational spheres in ten thousand different ways. In this way, the leadership of the institutional church in social engagement is indirect, but no less potent and arguably more so.

But, no, if leadership is taken to mean that the church-as-institution should get involved in such a way that its unique task is side-lined or watered-down. Pastor-elders should not get in the practice of offering specific solutions to climate change, inequitable tax policies, immigration reform, philosophies of policing, global food shortages, or structures that perpetuate inequalities. That is the role of individual Christians. The pastors, of course, may have personal opinions on such matters, but that is beside the point. The pastoral role is not a platform for personal opinions, but faithful equipping. The pastors equip from God’s Word, Jesus’ people do.

The good, beautiful and necessary works of individual followers of Jesus, are different than the good, beautiful, and necessary works of the church as an institution. This distinction does not make the corporate church complicit in social issues, but faithful to God’s unique purpose amidst them. The institution of the church is not responsible to right every wrong, or meet every need, as much as we’d like to. Its role, under the servant leadership of pastor-elders is to form truth-soaked, Bible-forged, God-centered, Jesus-satisfied, Spirit-empowered, redemptively-diverse followers who then go into the world to affect that kind of change. We believe more change is brought about in this way, not less.

History shows us that this is how God changes the world. Let’s be part of that, together.

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam

Sep 12
2020

Video: Regathering as Jesus’ People

Covid-19 | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Covid-19 Update

Downtown Cornerstone,

We’re continuing to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic together and, as we do, we trust that the Lord sovereignly rules over it and is at work, for our good, amidst it.

We recognize this season is a challenge, and part of that challenge is beginning to regather as Jesus’ people. Therefore, we thought it’d be good to put a simple video together to give you a sense of what it looks like to join us on a Sunday.

We’re going above and beyond to keep our church and our city safe, and to love one another well amidst this season—ultimately so that the gospel can be advanced and Jesus can be worshiped.

If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@downtowncornerstone.org.

In Christ,
Pastor Adam

Sep 10
2020

Fall Classes begin next Wednesday!

Discipleship, News, Teaching | by Pastor Craig Sturm

Fall Classes

Downtown Cornerstone,

From skeptics to new believers to seasoned saints, the knowledge of God—through his Son and his revealed Word—is how we are reconciled to him and grow in relationship with him.

And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. – Jesus (John 17:3)

As Jesus’ people, an essential part of knowing God is to set aside dedicated time to learn together from Scripture, apply it to our lives, and savor God as we do that. After all, Spirit-filled savoring of God in this life is what equips us to savor him in the life to come.

To this end, we are continuing to offer midweek classes as a meaningful way for our body to grow together. The purpose of offering classes is not to create big heads, but big hearts.

Most classes will meet over five weeks and held virtually, where you will be live with the class teacher (DCC pastor, staff, or member). We have also prepared a brochure that lists all the classes we will be offering this year, organized into distinct tracks.

DOWNLOAD BROCHURE

Session 1 begins this Wednesday, September 16th at 6:30PM. To ensure availability, and to help us better prepare for the start of class on Wednesday, we ask that you register for Session 1 by Monday, September 14th. See below for class details and registration.

SESSION 1

DCC Foundations – This class is the next step for those seeking to learn more about DCC, join a community, serve, be baptized, and become a member. This five-week class serves as the primary relational on-ramp into life with our church and covers what we believe, why we belong, who we are, why we are here, and how we live together. ***This class is required for membership with DCC.***  Register here…

Exploring Christianity – Are you a skeptic who is exploring the claims of Christianity, or you a believer wanting to learn how you can better explain your faith to others? This five-week class will walk through the claims and life of Jesus and what it means to be a Christian. Register here…

How Jesus Changes Us – How does your faith in God impact your everyday thoughts, feelings, and actions? This five-week class will give you an opportunity to reflect on one specific area in your life and learn how God changes you to become more like Jesus. Register here…

New Testament I – The goal for this ten-week class is to help you understand the big picture of each book of the New Testament. You’ll gain a more clear picture of the continuity between the books in the New Testament, see the promises God has kept to his people from the Old Testament, and learn how he speaks to us through his Word today. Register here…

Unity & Diversity – This class covers the biblical foundation of our union with Christ and the need for unity and diversity within the local church, along many dimensions—race especially but not exclusively. We’ll also discuss ways to maintain the unity in Christ of an increasingly diverse body. Register here…

SESSION 2

(Begins Wednesday, October 21st @ 6:30PM)

Christians in the Workplace – How should our faith and the reality of who we are in light of the gospel change how we view our work? This five-week class will seek to create a biblical framework for how we approach work, and help you find new and fresh ways of integrating your faith in your work. Register here…

Developing Meaningful Relationships – Imagine being part of an interconnected group of people who entrust themselves to one another. The goal of this five-week class is to help us all consider how meaningful relationships can increasingly become a natural part of the daily life of our church. Register here…

Guidance – Have you ever considered what the Bible says about decision-making? In this five-week class, we’ll look at how we should approach practical decisions in light of God’s wisdom and His revealed will to us in and through the Bible—amidst all of the “counsel” that exists in our world today. Register here…

For more information and FAQs, visit our webpage. If you have any questions, please email us at classes@downtowncornerstone.org.

Blessings,
Pastor Craig

Sep 9
2020

Meet Our Newest Elder Candidate: Russ Collins

News | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

Downtown Cornerstone,

On Sunday, we presented Russ Collins to the church as an elder candidate.

Therefore, we are taking the next month 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” (1 Tim. 3:1). While we have done our homework, this waiting period is an additional step 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 protection of his flock, the local church. Therefore, we treat the testing, equipping and installation of such men with great seriousness—and joy!

Russ will not be on DCC’s pastoral staff, but will serve as an elder in a volunteer capacity (i.e. non-staff 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, Russ will be involved with preaching, teaching, counseling, officiating weddings and funerals, elder meetings and practical leadership (which currently includes leading a Cornerstone Community).

Our aim is to raise up many non-staff pastors, like Russ, as it helps diversify and strengthen the elder team and, therefore, the church. Russ will be our third non-staff pastor.

Russ 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 appointed as a pastor. However, we are taking this time in case you know something that we do not.

That said, would you pray for the Collins 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 Russ, being raised-up to lead, feed, and protect Jesus’ flock. Let’s ask Him for more.

Provided nothing arises that would cause us to pause the process, which we don’t foresee, we will install Russ as a pastor on Sunday, October 4th. It will be a great celebration and a joyous moment.

What follows (below) is a short interview with Russ 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

…………………………

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

RC: I grew up in the Bible belt (Waco, TX to be specific), but not in a Christian home.  I walked the aisle of a Southern Baptist church and asked Jesus into my heart as a junior in high school. But I was like the rocky ground and the ground with thorns. I received the word with joy, but it was short-lived. The cares and desires for things of this world choked the word. Despite this, I thought I was still a Christian because I had prayed a prayer and had a salvation date and was told not to doubt my salvation. It wasn’t until I was 33 through a string of providential people, events and reading of God’s word and apologetic books that I realized I was a sinner and that God’s just wrath was upon me. I had not truly trusted in Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  One book I was reading went through the “Romans Road” (How To Give Away Your Faith by Paul Little), and I saw more clearly the gospel: how all have sinned and fall short of glory of God and that the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. The author basically said that saving faith is a surrender to the lordship of Jesus in all areas. I initially resisted that idea because if I did that, my family, friends, and co-workers would think I was crazy. I was taught that you just have to believe facts about Jesus, but don’t have to surrender to Him. But in time, God in his grace and mercy opened my eyes to my lostness and depravity and the fact I had been deceived by my prior confession. (Paul’s exhortation in 2 Cor. 13:5 to examine yourself to see if truly in the faith had never been taught to me. In short, I failed the test.) I then repented and believed on Jesus Christ alone for salvation and surrendered my life to him. I received his forgiveness & eternal life and Christ’s righteousness was imputed to me. Thank you, Jesus! In short, my eyes were opened, and I knew Jesus and the Bible were all true. By the way, my family, friends, and co-workers did think I was crazy, but I didn’t care because I understood my true lostness and received God’s grace.

Prior to saving faith, I was frankly successful by the world’s measure. I had a wonderful wife (still do), nice home, two kids (now three) and was climbing the corporate ladder. I was consumed with me, my career, and had no desire to read God’s word, pray, repent of sins, or love others sacrificially, and cussed like a sailor. Upon conversion, that all changed. My affections and actions were turned upside down or, rather, right-side up. I now desire and strive to: know, love and follow Jesus and His word, live for God’s glory, love my wife sacrificially, read Christian books to grow in my knowledge, point my kids to Jesus and the gospel, love others (in the church and out), see God as ruler and not me, grow in seeing God’s grace in my life, repent of sin I am aware of, pray, have outreach Bible studies, serve the church, reach the lost locally and afar, etc. Along the journey, there have been many trials and tribulations, but God’s grace continues to prove sufficient.

Q: Tell us a little about your family.

RC: I am blessed with a beautiful (inside & out) wife, Julie, and three wonderful children (Kylie – 26 years old, Grant – 24, and Grace – 20). I met Julie at Baylor University, where we both graduated. This December 9th, Julie and I will be celebrating 31 years of marriage! The Lord graciously saved us both in the fall of 1998, after being married almost nine years. Our worlds were turned around after that as we sought, and still do, to honor Jesus in our lives.

We lived in the Dallas area until the consulting company I am with, Protiviti, asked if I would consider transferring to lead our PNW practice. Moving to Seattle and running an office were not on my “To Do” list, but we ultimately concluded this was where the Lord wanted us. We moved here in 2016.

Kylie is an elementary school teacher and taught three years at a public school in the Los Angeles area before moving here this summer to take a job at a private, Christian school. Grant played baseball at a small university in California where he received his undergraduate degree in accounting and finance. In May, he graduated from UW with his Master’s in Accounting. He has spent all summer studying and taking the CPA exam. He will move to Dallas later this month to start his career with Ernst & Young. Grace is a sophomore at The Master’s University in Santa Clarita, CA and is studying business. As a family, we enjoy hanging out together, watching movies, going to sporting events and traveling.

Q: What are you most passionate about?

RC: The first things that come to mind are Jesus and the gospel and all that it entails. I never want to get past the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. I want it to guide my personal life and the lives of my fellow brothers and sisters. I am still amazed to this day that Jesus has saved me, and I now get to know and serve him. Truly, amazing grace.

I am also passionate about reaching lost souls with this gospel, whether with family, neighbors, co-workers, those that come to DCC, and those throughout Seattle, Washington, and the world. I have taught numerous outreach Bible studies over the years. I am also on the board of, and involved with, two international mission agencies: one serves Uganda and the other serves Dubai. Both ministries involve the local church, and both have started a seminary in recent years. Julie and I also give to other missionaries to help, in some way, reach the lost across the globe.

And of course, I am passionate about my family and love them very much.

Q: How did you get involved with DCC?

RC: After moving from Dallas, I looked at various churches in Seattle and the surrounding area. I was looking for a church that preached and lived out the Bible and was gospel centered. And I wanted some passion from the pulpit. To be honest, my search was a little discouraging. I finally looked up suggested churches on the 9Marks website and saw DCC listed. My first visit was on the sanctity of life Sunday and Pastor Adam was bringing it! He was defending biblically and graciously pro-life and boldly proclaiming the gospel. I remember looking around and asking myself, “Am I in downtown Seattle?” Frankly, I was blown away.

I continued to look at other churches as I am one who takes church commitment seriously and wanted to be at the right place for me and my family: one that would continually point me to Jesus, His word, and the gospel. I also wanted a church led by godly elders that would be looking out for my soul. So as part of this process, I sought to get to know the elders. Long story short, we decided to make DCC our home in the fall of 2016 and have never looked back. Once here, we simply asked where the church needed help and served in those areas.

Q: What are your current areas of oversight?

RC: For the past two years, I have been an apprentice in community with Daniel Hallak. He and his family have recently moved, so I will provide oversight now.  In addition, I lead DCC’s financial advisory team. I help teach a class called Exploring Christianity, and Julie and I have also taught/participated in pre-marriage classes. We also have been active in teaching DCC kids for the past several years.

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

RC: I have been an elder before, at a much smaller church in Texas, and that was several years ago. In the fall of 2018, Adam invited me to participate in a weekly Elder Development Cohort with some men. That was a very encouraging and growing time. Soon after that class, Adam asked if I would consider going through the elder candidate process, and I said I would think and pray about that. I was and am content to be a faithful member and submit joyfully to our elders (Heb. 13:17). I was also quite busy helping my firm’s local office stabilize and grow our PNW business. I know from experience that being an elder is a demanding role, yet one with great blessing. So, I wanted to take some time to consider.

About a year ago, with encouragement from Pastor Adam and some other men, I started the eldership process to seek the Lord’s will. The process is quite involved and requires a lot of self-examination. There are a lot of questions to answer in writing, around personal, theological, and practical matters. There is a pretty intensive interview process that my wife and I went through. I also got to observe our elders in action during their elder meetings. (Observing those meetings, I saw firsthand the love and care our elders have for the people of DCC.) Throughout this year long process, my heart for the people and purpose of this church grew.

I am not perfect by any means and, like all of us, continue to be sanctified; but I do believe that, by God’s grace, I am biblically qualified. I have a heart to love Jesus’s local flock: to know, feed, protect, and lead. I want to see myself and others grow in our love for Jesus, the gospel, the Bible, his church, one another, and the lost. As I get older, eternity is ever more real to me. I see more and more the brevity of this life and that eternal souls are all around. I continue to be driven by John Piper’s book, Don’t Waste Your Life, that I read many years ago where he quoted part of a poem: “Only one life, ’twill soon be past; Only what’s done for Christ will last.” I want to serve wherever Jesus wants me to. Throughout the elder application process, I have been affirmed by others, including our elders and my family. It is my desire to serve the people of DCC in this role (1 Tim. 3:1). If this is ultimately the Lord’s will, I am deeply humbled and grateful to serve in this way.

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

RC: We are going through transition: our oldest daughter has moved to Seattle; our son is about to move to Dallas to start his career, and our youngest daughter is away at college amidst all that is going on in the world. And if the Lord wills, I will take on this role of elder at DCC. We would welcome prayer that we would keep our eyes on Jesus and seek His glory and His will, as well as walk in a manner worthy of the gospel.

I would also welcome prayer for the upcoming Exploring Christianity class and a weekly Bible study that my wife and I started a few weeks ago with my parents, my brother and sister and their respective partners in Texas (using Zoom). Please pray that the Lord would work mightily through these studies and that I would rightly and graciously handle the word of truth.

…………………………

Let’s be praying for the Collins and our church during this time!

Aug 21
2020

What are your Expectations of Jesus’ Local Church?

Community, Discipleship, Global Issues | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

What are your Expectations of Jesus' Local Church?

Downtown Cornerstone,

One thing this season has made clear is that there are widespread misunderstandings about what Jesus’ local church is meant to be and do—even among followers of Jesus.

Over the last six months the elders of DCC have received numerous questions, recommendations, and criticisms in relation to what we should be doing as a church in regards to: our pandemic response, the relationship between church and state, timing and content of communication, growing unemployment, the homelessness crisis, political partisanship, systemic injustice, police brutality, social protests, and more.

We welcome questions, suggestions, and critique. My intent here is not to silence nor chastise. Rather, my purpose is to make an observation. I have noticed that under many of these inquiries are vastly different expectations of what Jesus’ local church is.

What are your expectations of Jesus’ church? Where do they come from? That’s what this post is about.

Expectations are powerful, but often hidden

Expectations are everything in relationships, whether with people or organizations. Expectations are powerful beliefs about what should happen, or what we expect, within a particular relationship. These beliefs often lurk behind the scenes based on our understanding of what that relationship does and does not entail. Since they are largely assumed, we typically don’t question them and we can forget how much shaping influence they have in our relationships.

We understand this innately. We expect hospitals to care for the sick. We expect universities to educate. We expect governments to govern. We expect libraries to lend books. We expect museums to showcase historical artifacts. We expect Seattle to vote Democratic. Why? That is what those groups do.

However, we don’t expect our doctor to deliver our dinner. We don’t expect our local elementary school to respond to a 911 call. We don’t expect libraries to rotate our tires. We don’t expect our Uber drive to raise our kids. Why not? That is not what those groups do. If we have those expectations, we will find ourselves disappointed, at best, or disillusioned, at worst.

In other words, when our expectations are not met, some degree of conflict is inevitable. But, that conflict can have one of two sources. It may be due to one party not living up to the shared expectations of their relationship, such as a cheating spouse. Or, one party may have wrong expectations of a relationship. If you go to Trader Joe’s to renew your license tabs you will be forever disappointed and disgruntled, though it is no fault of Trader Joe’s.

Both result in conflict, but the source of the conflict is different; the former is rooted in shared expectations and the latter in wrong ones. All of this has bearing on our current cultural moment.

What are your expectations of Jesus’ local church?

What do you expect Jesus’ local church to be and do? Have you thought about that? Our expectations are often formed through a mixture of biblical understanding, personal preference, past experience, varying emotions, influential teachers, and life circumstances.

So, what should we expect from the local church? Here are some things that may come to mind:

teach the Bible, spread the gospel, defend the faith, evangelize, make disciples, baptize, celebrate the Lord’s supper, teach classes and catechize, perform weddings and funerals, practice church discipline, counsel the hurting, run after the wandering, visit the sick, help the widow, cast vision and create strategic plans, missionally innovate, plant churches, send missionaries, create programs (kids, youth, college, singles, empty nesters), lead mission trips, entertain, manage (finances, property and staff), develop a social media presence, and address social issues (homelessness, addiction, immigration, human trafficking, politics, foster care, racism, abortion, youth incarceration, food security, water access, etc).

That’s quite a list. Must a healthy, Jesus-loving local church do all these?

The chasm between “could” and “must”

There is a huge chasm between “could” and “must”; between “can” and “ought.” One is an option, while the other is a divine mandate. We should be careful of placing “oughts” where a particular issue is a “can.” Such as, you ought to do something about homelessness. You ought to say something about a particular news event. You ought to do something about police brutality. The word ought implies a church is disobedient if it doesn’t. But, is it?

What ought Jesus’ local church do? What is the church? Why does it exist? You can see why this is important. If we’re not clear on what the church is and why it exists, we may end up expecting things of the church that God does not—and, as a result, find ourselves disappointed and disgruntled because of those errant expectations, though it is no fault of the church.

So, it is helpful to ask ourselves, “Do my expectations for Jesus’ church align with Jesus’ expectations of it?”

What is God’s purpose for Jesus’ local church?

So, what is God’s purpose for the local church? Well, think about it this way. We can only understand the church’s purpose in light of God’s ultimate purpose. What is that? God’s ultimate purpose is to have his unsearchable riches seen (Mt. 28:18-20; Eph. 3:8-9; Rom. 11:33), savored (1 Pet. 2:3; Ps. 34:8), and shown (1 Cor. 10:31; Eph. 2:10; Jn. 13:35) in the whole-hearted worship of his people from every nation, tribe, people, and language (Rev. 7:9). This is God’s great purpose in the universe.

Ok, so how does God plan to accomplish this purpose? God primarily plans to accomplish this purpose through his local church. Go slow here. We will never fully grasp the significance of Jesus’ local church if we don’t see its connection to God’s purposes in the universe. They are inseparably connected.

Consider what the church is. The church is not your typical non-profit or voluntary association. Jesus’ local church is a radically diverse supernatural creation of God, secured by the Son of God, empowered by the Spirit of God, led by the Word of God, to accomplish the mission of God, for the glory of God and the everlasting joy of the people of God (Jn. 15:11; 16:24; 1 Jn. 1:4). In a word, the local church is a miracle.

The mission of Jesus’ local church—the reason his church exists—is to go into the world, in the power of the Spirit, to make disciples of Jesus through evangelism (corporate and personal proclamation of the gospel) and discipleship (worship-filled, joy-fueled obedience), while seeking to plant healthy churches that do the same everywhere for the glory of God (Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Col 1:28).

This is our unique and central task—faith-filled proclamation and worship-full disciple-making, together. This work of the church is how God is fulfilling his purposes in the universe to this day. Think about that.

There is nothing else like Jesus’ church

In other words, the purpose of Jesus’ local church is utterly unique. No one else on the planet can do this work. No other organization on the planet can do this work. God has given this unique purpose to his local church. If the local church doesn’t do it, no one else will because no one else can.

Only Jesus’ local church has God’s inerrant inspired Word through which we learn the truth of reality, the truth of who God is, and the truth of what it means to be human.

Only Jesus’ local church has the incomparable gospel, by which we learn how to be reconciled, forgiven, adopted and counted righteous by God, in Christ.

Only Jesus’ local church is considered by God to be the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16), family of God (Eph. 2:19), body of Christ (Rom. 12:5), embassy of the Kingdom (Phil. 3:20), and the pillar of truth (1 Tim. 3:15).

Only Jesus’ local church has the ordinances of baptism and Lord’s Supper by which his people are identified and set apart as those who belong to him.

Only Jesus’ local church has the responsibility of making and maturing disciples of all nations and spurring one another on as the Day draws near (Heb. 10:25).

Only Jesus’ local church is the salt and light of God, a people of convictional kindness who cultivate a faithful presence in their communities, in Jesus’ name, from the avenues to the alley ways.

Only Jesus’ church has pastors who shepherd, deacons who serve, and members who love another as fellow citizens of the kingdom to come.

In other words, there is nothing like Jesus’ local church. It is utterly unique.

So, while there are many things the church could do, what it must do is faithfully proclaim the gospel and cultivate worship-full disciples as God’s new humanity in Jesus. While the church cares deeply about politics, it is not a partisan organization. While the church cares deeply about justice, it is not a social justice organization. While the church cares deeply about current events, it is not a news organization which offers ongoing cultural commentary. While the church cares deeply about virtue, it is not responsible to signal its virtue to merely appease the culture.

The church is a local expression of God’s new, diverse, redeemed people with a specific purpose: to faithfully proclaim the gospel and cultivate worship-full disciples for God’s glory. While there are many things we could do, this is what we must do. This is the heart beat of every faith-filled, bible-saturated, Spirit-dependent, God-centered, Christ-satisfied local church. This is where our primary energies should be directed. This is what we should expect from a healthy local church, whether gathered or scattered.

Anything else is peripheral to these primary purposes. That is not to say other issues are unimportant. They are often very important. But it is to say they lie outside the primary purpose of Jesus’ local church. Jesus alone is the center and circumference of reality. When we get his purposes for his local church right, it then goes on to shape and inform everything else.

Do your expectations for Jesus’ church align with Jesus’ expectations of it?

In an upcoming post, we will continue to consider what Jesus’ local church is meant to be and do by looking at the differences between the role of the church, as a whole, and the individual Christian.

With you, and for you, in Christ,
Pastor Adam

To read the next post in this series, click here.