Downtown Cornerstone Blog
Feb 10
2022

Missions & Church Planting Update (Partnerships, Prayer Points, and More)

Missions | by Pastor Marco Ribeiro

Downtown Cornerstone,

In light of Pastor Adam preaching on God’s unfolding mission the other week, we thought it’d be fitting to send out a church planting update so you can be encouraged at what Jesus is doing in and through your faithful giving and prayers.

For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written, “Those who have never been told of him will see, and those who have never heard will understand.”

– Romans 15:18–21

Isn't it interesting that the apostle Paul can use the short phrase ‘bringing the Gentiles to obedience’ as a summary of the fulfillment of the ministry of the gospel of Christ? Of course, ‘bringing people to obedience’ is a summary of Jesus’ commission to “make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Mt. 18:20). One way to phrase our mission as a church is to bring others to obedience to Jesus Christ, which simultaneously displays our love to God (as we desire to see him worshiped and obeyed) and our love for people, who can only truly flourish if they turn to Jesus Christ in the obedience of faith.

It is instructive to observe how Paul went about fulfilling this ministry – we get a glimpse in Acts 19-21, where Paul starts with a small group of twelve men (19:7), plants a local church, and teaches them the whole counsel of God in public and from house to house (19:9; 20:20,27), even as he works with his own hands to support both himself and others (20:34-35). Paul spent three years in Ephesus (20:31), and as a result, “all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks (19:10)”, after which Paul proceeded to strengthen previous churches (21:1-16) before making it his ambition to preach the gospel and plant more churches amongst those who had not yet heard the gospel.

In addition to our local evangelism and discipleship, we want to follow Paul’s pattern, by partnering with other churches or church planters. We also train and send some of our own members called by God to proclaim the gospel somewhere else, prioritizing peoples among whom Christ is yet to be named. It is for this reason that we set aside at least 10% of our budget towards ministry outside our walls.

What follows below are some updates on these various efforts, ways you can be praying, and resources on how to get involved. (You'll also find more information about our next Global Missions Meetup taking place this Sunday, February 13th.)

Let's continue to pray for these missionaries, churches and ministries. Pray that the gospel would go forth, pray for that more souls would be saved, and that the Lord would make us a people who live both as those who were sent and those who are sending others, for his glory and our joy.

In Christ,
Pastor Marco

Local, National and International Partnerships

Acts 29
Our church is part of the Acts 29 church planting network, which provides a great structure and vetting to help us support a variety of church planting and pastoral training efforts around the world. We also ‘personally’ support the following individual churches / planters:

Radiant Church Matsu Valley | Palmer, AK
(Caleb Richardson)

Radiant is encouraged by how the Lord is continuing to grow them as a church. Although they’ve experienced quite a bit of churn from Covid, they are trusting in how the Lord is growing them in maturity. Be praying that the Lord would raise up more elders and leaders within the church and that God would use their upcoming church conference to encourage their hearts and be a catalyst for more church planting in Alaska.

Sufficient Grace Church | Puyallup, WA
(Noah Winningham)
Sufficient Grace Church is a church plant we’ve been supporting since its conception, around 1 year ago. As you can imagine, finding a meeting space during COVID was a big challenge, but God providentially blessed them with fellow believers at a local school who were eager to help them rent a space. It is a blessing for us to watch a nearby church grow in maturity, as they grow in prayer, teaching, and gospel proclamation. The Lord continues to go before them through growing and multiplying communities. They are thankful for his provision as they work towards being less reliant on external giving, and as the church grows in size and generosity. Continue to pray that the Lord would use SGC in Puyallup and the South Hill area to declare the gospel and make disciples.

Soma Fuchu | Tokyo, Japan
(Yoshito Noguchi)
Our brothers and sisters at Soma Fuchu are rejoicing at finally being able to meet face to face. They recently held a joyful ordination ceremony for Jon Cole, who was appointed as pastor and are celebrating God’s grace to them in many other ways this past year. They ask for prayer so that many friends and acquaintances of members would hear the gospel, that they would be able to develop a local (Japanese) intern for ministry and leadership, and for partner churches in Japan. Finally, “many spiritual forces are strong at work throughout Japan. Please pray that the gospel will be deeply rooted and that the gospel will be boldly proclaimed.”

Antalya Protestant Church / Reach Turkey | Antalya, Turkey
(Kerem Koç)
In addition to Antalya Church, we are supporting efforts to train church planters in Turkey and translate gospel-saturated resources (e.g. books) into the Turkish language. Ministry in Turkey presents a variety of challenges, but the Lord has been faithful.

Restore Brazil
(Jay Bauman)
Our support to Restore Brazil is disbursed to a variety of small churches and church planters participating in their church residency program. They also have an initiative specifically focused on training pastors who minister in Brazil’s slums, and have recently started developing work in Mozambique, Africa – sending Brazilian missionaries (the language is the same), and developing a local institute for theological training.

DCC Global Missionaries

We also equip and support our own members as our Global Partners in taking the gospel to the nations. Due to security reasons, we are unable to publicly list them here. However, if you are interested in learning more about our current Global Partners serving in Chad, Africa and Southeast Asia, email us at

Learn More and Get Involved

Friends, we are all called to the mission of ‘bringing the Gentiles to obedience’, for their good and God’s glory. Here are a few ways to get involved:

  • Pray: Start here. We cannot fulfill Jesus’ mission for us in our own strength. Just as Paul appeals to the Romans to strive together with him in his prayers to God (Rom. 15:30), we appeal to you “by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit” to pray to the Father for all of our partners above, and for guidance on how you can join this work as a sender or a goer.
  • Join our regular Global Missions Meetups: This month we will hear from The Al-Ma'idah Initiative on how we can be better equipped at reaching Muslims with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Register here.
  • Consider taking a more intentional role: We’ve developed a Global Missions Development Pipeline to help provide practical pathways and training for engagement in missions. This is both aimed at people who think they may be called to be missionaries, and those who want to grow in becoming better senders. In order to successfully send a church planting team, all kinds of needs must be provided for: accountability, prayer, sending leadership, finances, business mentorship, and other types of practical support. Thus, there are many ways to be involved. You can read more about our Global Missions Development Pipeline and how you can begin taking next steps here.
Jan 20
2022

Mercy Ministry Update | January

Mercy Ministries, Mercy Update | by Pastor Justin Keogh

The Mercy Ministry Updates are a regular snapshot of our Mercy Ministries in DCC, where we are working to serve and uphold the value and dignity of God’s most vulnerable image bearers in our city.

For more regular updates in each focus area, please request to join our Mercy Focus groups in Church Center (linked below) and join us at this Sunday's Mercy Meetup (details below).

Gospel Framework

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

"And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith."
– Galatians 6:9-10

It's 2022! If we're honest, as the Covid-19 pandemic approaches the two-year mark, many of us may be weary—generally, and also in our service to others. Even while the Galatians faced many challenges—false teachers, ethnic conflict, internal strife, battles with sin—Paul calls them to persist in doing good to everyone as they had opportunity. 

It's helpful to recognize that while the particulars of our situation may be different than the churches in Galatia, many of the patterns are the same. Every season will have many and varying challenges that threaten to keep us from right living before God and right living with others. Our call as Christians, who have received the grace of God by faith in Christ and who have the Spirit of God at work in us, is to not grow weary of doing good.

How are we to persevere in doing good? We do so, not in our strength, but by abiding in Christ and drawing our daily power from him. He has loved and cared for us in the most significant ways by dying in our place to secure our forgiveness and restoration with God. And he continues to love and care for us in the details of our lives by being present with us, interceding for us, and working all things to our ultimate good. So we can look to Christ and be strengthened by his Spirit to live as he did—in radical service to others, by being present with them, interceding for them, and caring for their material and spiritual needs.

Mercy Ministry Meetup: This Sunday, January 23rd

Join us this Sunday, after each gathering, downstairs in the MPR, for our next Mercy Meetup. In this meetup, there will be a brief update from me and our current Mercy Ministries, including more information about how to serve in this season. While many of the ways we have traditionally served have changed in light of Covid-19, there are still opportunities to help now, both individually and with others.

This is an excellent place for those looking to get started, ask questions, meet others, and take the next step in serving with our Mercy Ministries. Registration is not required—just plan to join us this Sunday after either gathering downstairs in the MPR.

Stay Connected

Learn more about our Mercy Ministries HERE. Join the focus area Church Center groups in order to hear more regular updates, events, and opportunities to serve:

For the Kingdom,

Pastor Justin

Jan 3
2022

Ten Tips For Improving Your Bible Reading

Discipleship, Scripture | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

The following is a repost from January 11, 2017.
___________

Just like our bodies need food to flourish physically, so our souls need God’s Word to flourish spiritually (See 2 Tim 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12). Our souls will shrivel without it. There is no other means of grace (aka spiritual discipline) that is more important than intentionally, regularly immersing yourself in God’s revealed word, the Bible. Not even prayer is as important (though it is a close second) because there is nothing we need more than to hear from Him. So, in light of this, let me offer the following ten tips to help improve your reading of the Bible this year.

#1 Ask yourself “Why do I read the Bible?”

This might seem like a strange place to start, but it is important to begin here. Often, we jump in without even considering this question. But, I’m growing increasingly convinced that our answer to this question may reveal why so many find reading the Bible dull drudgery – if they read it at all. Ask yourself, “Why do I read the Bible?” or, “Why do I think I should read the Bible?” Many people will answer by saying, “Because I am supposed to.” But, is that meant to be our primary motivation? “I’m supposed to.” No. Here’s the real question: “Do you want God?” In other words, do you want to know him more? Do you want to grow in relationship with him, understand who he is more fully, revel in all that he is for you, grasp his promises afresh, love what he loves, be more deeply anchored in what is most real? If so, you will want to read the Scripture. But, if God is not what your heart is ultimately after, then your reading will largely feel like dull drudgery, mere duty. Whenever we do the right thing (e.g. reading the Bible) for the wrong reasons (e.g. just because we should), it will always leave us dry and dissatisfied. When you read the Scripture because you want to know God more, it changes how you approach your reading. This doesn’t mean there won’t be times of dryness, there will be, just like in any other relationship, but the underlying motivation will propel you through those seasons. So, as we begin the year, maybe the first question isn’t, “How will I read the Bible this year?” but “Do I want God?”

#2 Read the Bible from love, not for it

The good news of Jesus’s life and work is that we are made right with God through faith alone, by grace alone, in him alone. In other words, we don’t earn or merit or deserve his incomparable love. For our purposes here, that means we don’t read the Bible in order to earn God’s love, but because we already have it. Or, to put it differently, reading the Bible won’t make him love us any more than he already does, in Jesus. Why point this out? Unless you are sure that you are safe with God, that he loves you, that he is completely committed to you, that he wants your best, you will never seek him. After all, if you see God as a vindictive, cruel, unapproachable task-master, why would you want to spend time with him? I wouldn’t. But, if God is immeasurably good, incomparably wise, unfathomably powerful and he has graciously made you his, in Jesus, that allows you to read the Bible from love, not for it. So, we can open up the pages of his Word day-after-day not to earn His love, but because we know we already have it.

#3 Understand the dynamics of your fallen heart

Nearly every morning I wake up and my heart has drifted back into it default position of unbelief. Pastor and author Paul Tripp, rightly calls this “gospel amnesia”. When I wake up I often feel like the weight of the world rests on my shoulders, that I need to earn the approval of others, that my worth is tied to my performance, that my treasure is found in this world, that I don’t really need God, and more. It’s embarrassing, really. But, we shouldn’t be surprised about this. Our hearts are like leaky buckets. Just when you thought it was filled, they start to empty. We need to know this about our hearts. This is just how fallen hearts function. Because of the nature of indwelling sin, our hearts effortlessly drift away from God like unanchored boats at sea. So, when we think, “I don’t really feel like spending time with God today?” we should respond by saying to ourselves, “I expect to feel that way. That’s my shady heart talking. I obviously need to take it in for a realignment.” Knowing that my heart is misaligned, to some degree, every morning motivates me to reorient my heart toward God and all that he is for me every morning. This happens most powerfully through the Bible.

#4 Raise the sail to catch the wind

In his helpful book Union with Christ: The Way to Know and Enjoy God, Rankin Wilbourne uses the illustration of a sailor raising his sail to catch the wind as a metaphor for how we should approach the means of grace. Just as a sailor will not catch the wind if he doesn’t raise the sail, we will not grow if we do not raise the sails of our hearts through the means of grace – especially regular bible reading. Some object to this and say, “If salvation is all of grace, then why are you saying there is something I need to do?” Well, no doubt, life with God is all of grace. But, his grace invites us into a life that requires us to participate (see Phil 2:12-13). We play a crucial role in our ongoing growth. Now, of course, if anything good and worthwhile is to happen within us it is ultimately up to God. The sailor raises the sail, but he’s dependent on the wind to move the boat. Reading the Bible is like that. Humbly opening up the Scripture is how we raise the sail of our hearts, while knowing it is only God who sends the wind. Fortunately, more often than not, he loves to send the wind, so its not much of a gamble. We can’t control the wind, but we can raise the sail to catch it. If we don’t, its guaranteed we’ll do nothing but drift.

#5 Find a good translation

I remember being a new Christian in college wondering, “How in the world am I to pick the right Bible? There are too many options!” It can be overwhelming. If you’re a new, or renewed, follower of Jesus I recommend reading through the Bible using a study bible (e.g. ESV Study Bible, Gospel Transformation, Reformation Study Bible, NIV Life Application Bible, etc). Most Bibles with study notes offer enough information to answer your basic questions and ensure you don’t get needlessly hung up on what things mean. As far as Bibles themselves go, here is a good place to start:

ESV: Probably the best literal (word-for-word) modern translation available. The ESV is an updated version of the RSV. This is the translation we use on Sundays as a church. If you need one, feel free to take one of the paperback ESV’s we have available. Personally, I also enjoy the NASB and NKJV.

NIV: The NIV is the most popular dynamic-equivalent Bible of our day that seeks to strike a balance between matching the original word usage while communicating the original meaning. That makes it not quite as literal (i.e. word-for-word) as the ESV, but helpful and easy to read. You do need to be more discerning here as recent editions have introduced more gender neutral terminology that is not found in the original languages.

NLT: The New Living Translation belongs to the family of Bibles known as “paraphrases”. The goal of interpretation of these paraphrases is not to match word-for-word but to freely use language to highlight the original meaning. The Message is another popular paraphrase. The primary advantage of the NLT is that there was a translation committee involved, as opposed to the single authorship of The Message by Eugene Peterson (which is great too).

#6 Find a plan

This is where it is easiest to get lost. You want to know God. You understand that you’re reading the Bible from God’s love, not for it. You know your shady heart needs it. You’re ready to hoist the sail. You have your ESV open in front of you and think, “Oh, great, now what?” To avoid this moment, you need a plan. It doesn’t really matter what your plan is, provided you have one. Often in their eagerness, new believers will think, “I’m just going to read the Bible straight through.” I tried this myself. This might surprise you, but I don’t recommend it. Why? Because it can be really discouraging, especially once you hit Leviticus. Instead, try a plan that has you reading the Bible in a year. This is the one I use. If a year is intimidating, take two or three. it can also be helpful to read a chronological Bible reading plan so you get a sense of the order of events in the Scripture. Or, you could sink yourself into a single book, or study a character, or dive into a topic you’re interested in. Don’t worry about getting it right. Pick something. Give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, try something new. Be sure to ask your friends what they’ve found helpful.

#7 Find a rhythm

If you don’t have a rhythm for when you’re going to get unhurried time with God through the Scripture, it likely won’t happen. Look at your calendar. Find a consistent block of time. Then, find a quiet spot. Turn your electronics off or leave them somewhere else in the house. Be intentional about making it a focused, non-distracting time. I remember once reading of a famous theologian, who had seven kids, whose wife would put a towel over her head at the kitchen table to read the Bible and pray. When the towel came out, the kids knew that momma was getting time with Jesus. Do whatever it takes. Get creative, even if it involves a towel. A relationship with God is forged like any other relationship – thru consistent, unhurried, quality time. Be patient with yourself, especially if this is new for you.

#8 Ask God to give you eyes to see

A passage of scripture that I regularly think of when I open my Bible is Psalm 119:18 that says, “Open our eyes that we may behold wondrous things out of your law.” We need God to open the eyes and ears of our hearts to see and hear what he has for us in his Word. This is why one person can read a section of the Bible and be bored to tears, while someone else may read the exact same section and be lost in the breathtaking beauty of what she finds there. So, when you open your Bible, pour out your heart to Him. Tell him you’re tired, distracted, or distant. Tell him your heart needs realignment around what is most real. Then, ask him to open your eyes. Tell him that you want to see, really see. Trust that the Spirit who inspired the writing of the Bible (2 Peter 1:21) is the same Spirit at work in you (Romans 8). Then read, full of faith, on the lookout for what he might bring to your attention. That leads us to the next tip.

#9 Stay on the lookout for God as you read

After asking God for help, be on the look out for how he wants to feed your soul and stir your heart. You’re really looking for one, maybe two, things to think about. Its hard to digest more than that in a single day. So, as you’re reading, you want to find a truth to savor for the day. Ask: What is this saying about God? What does God want me to learn here? What does this tell me about myself? What difference would it make today if I actually believed this? Try to find something about him to satisfy your hungry heart every day. More than likely, it won’t be something new that you haven’t seen before, though it might be, but more often it is something “old” that strikes you in a new, deeper way. The famous English pastor George Mueller was known for his goal of making his heart happy in God every morning. I’ve adopted that as my own goal ever since I first heard it. Read with intention. Look for what jumps out. Then, when it does, stop and savor it.

#10 Slow it down, then write it down

Have you ever spent time reading, then closed your Bible, and immediately forget what it is you’ve read. I’m sure you have. I have. It is a universal problem. Is there a way to avoid that? Yes. Slow it down. Then, write it down. By “slowing it down” I mean don’t spend all your time reading. Rather, read and then chew on something that you’ve read (this is called “meditating”). Take a verse, or two, that stood out. Stop. Read through it a number of times. Turn it into a prayer. Look at it from multiple angles. Imagine how your life would be different if you believed the truth in view. Take your time with it. So, for example, if you have 20 minutes to read. Spend 10 minutes reading and 10 minutes slowing down on one verse or passage that stood out. Writing it down helps to further solidify these things in your heart, especially if you’re prone to distraction. One thing I do, nearly every day, is write down a verse or two that stands out. I use a small notebook, but it could be anything, even a 3×5 card. Then, I pray through it and meditate on it. Then, I try to pull the notebook out around lunch and before bed to review those truths so that they are with me throughout the day. Give it a shot and see what works best for you.

Christ is all,

Pastor Adam