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 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

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.

May 28
2020

Pursuing God Together in the Midst of Weariness

Discipleship | by Pastor Craig Sturm

Pastoral Note

Downtown Cornerstone,

I woke up recently feeling tired and weary, honestly a bit worn out—like a rubber band that has been stretched too many times to hold its elasticity.

It had been a hard week, wrestling with disappointments in myself, frustrations over the quarantine, and feeling the weight of entering into the struggles of others—broken relationships, racial heartache, fear of the future, unrepentant sin, discouraging health prognosis (just to name a few).

A phrase from Psalm 6:6 that represented my heart that morning was simply, “I am weary.” I remember crying out to God: “I am tired. Lord, it feels like the tank is empty.”

Can you relate?

A couple of days later I was reading back through a devotional resource I have used for many years. Inside the back cover I found a faded sticky note in my own handwriting. On the top was written: “In the Midst of Weariness…” Under that were four simple statements on how to work through my weariness. I’m not sure when I first wrote it, or who I got it from. But, it was a kindness of God to me that I found it!

So much so, that I wanted to share them with you (with a fifth I have added).

#1 REST IN GOD’S GRACE TO RESTORE YOU

Isaiah 40:29-31:

He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.

Notice here: we will all grow weary! But, in our weariness, we have the strong assurance that God—who never grows weary—will renew our strength as we wait, in faith, on His kindnesses and strengthening.

#2 ROOT OUT YOUR IDOLS

Galatians 6:7:

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.

When it comes to seasons of weariness, I have found it crucial to ask: “What am I trusting in to give me rest? Is it a life free of fear, stress? Is it perfect health?” In other words, what have I been sowing, that is contributing to the weariness I am reaping? In searching my heart, I am seeking to root out whatever I am trusting in, apart from God, to be for me what only He can be for me. And then bring that in confession before Him, seeking forgiveness and restoration.

#3 REMEMBER, GOD IS IN CONTROL

Galatians 6:9:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

In my weariness, I need the reminder that He promises a harvest of good fruit—if I will not give up and persevere. And that good fruit will be good according to God’s definition of good: my growth to be like Jesus; the giving of grace to others in their time of need; and most importantly, the bringing of glory to His name.

#4 CONTINUE TO WHOLEHEARTEDLY INVEST IN PEOPLE

Paul ends his thought on persevering through weariness with an outward application in Galatians 6:10:

So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but a vital piece of the puzzle when I am weary, is to continue to press outside myself to invest in the lives of others. Notice this was fourth on the list…As I rest in God and find my strength in Him; as I root out false idols I am trusting in besides Him; and as I remember that He is in control and will bring the harvest of good fruit — then I can look at the opportunities I have been given to invest in discipling and caring for those He has brought into my life.

That brings me to the fifth piece I have added: In the midst of weariness, as I am working through the previous exhortations, I must continue to pursue God.

#5  PURSUE GOD

The psalmist displays this pursuit so beautifully in Psalm 63:1,8:

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water…My soul clings to you your right hand upholds me.

I love how A.W. Tozer spoke of this pursuit: “We pursue God because, and only because, He has first put an urge within us that spurs us to the pursuit…but the outworking of that impulse is our following hard after Him; and all the time we are pursuing Him we are already in His hand…”

AN INVITATION TO THE PURSUIT OF GOD DEVOTIONAL READING GROUP

I’d love to invite you to a tangible application of this call to pursue God. I am going to be facilitating a devotional reading group, working through Tozer’s classic The Pursuit of GodThis is one of the few books I have found myself reading, and re-reading over the years!

Consider joining myself and others as we reflect on what pursuit of God looks like in our lives. We’ll work through the ten chapters, one per week until we’re done. FYI, the chapters take about 12-15 minutes to read (or you could grab the audio version).

I’m going to offer it both Tuesday mornings at 7:30AM and also Wednesdays at Noon. We’ll talk about 30 minutes and then pray. If you are interested in either of those, email me at craig@downtowncornerstone.org, and I’ll get you set up so that you receive reminders and the Zoom link. We will begin next week.

Participation would look like this: reading or listening to the chapter for that week; coming prepared having thought through the chapter, especially thinking: “Is there anything in the chapter that draws my heart to understand God better? What in the chapter was helpful in helping me understand what it looks like to pursue a deeper relationship with God? What is a tangible action I can take moving forward?”

Praise God He is the God of the weary! May our pursuit of Him refresh, restore, and renew our weary hearts, minds, and bodies.

Pastor Craig

Apr 16
2020

Discipleship in this Season: Classes, Community, and Connect & Prayer

Community, Discipleship | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Discipleship in this Season

Downtown Cornerstone,

This is certainly a unique season we find ourselves in amidst Covid-19 and “social distancing.” As we continue to approach God’s throne of grace for mercy (Heb. 4:16), we know that God is sovereignly in control (Ps. 46:10) and that He, in His wisdom, has appointed this time and season (Eccl. 3:1-8). We can trust that He is working through this season to carry out His will and purposes in ways both seen and unseen.

Among those purposes, we know that God desires for his people to continue to grow in knowledge, faith, and obedience (Col. 1:9-14). And we, as Jesus’ church, remain called and committed to discipleship (Eph. 4:11-16) and have shifted our normal rhythms to virtual platforms. This season especially highlights the value and necessity of personal discipleship and meaningful relationships!

NEWCOMERS’ COFFEE AND FOUNDATIONS

If you are new with us, we invite you to join us this Sunday, April 19th at 12PM for our upcoming Virtual Newcomers’ Coffee. This is an opportunity for you to meet a pastor, connect with leaders, hear our story, ask any questions you may have, and identify your next steps—along with others who are doing the same. Learn more and register…

We also encourage you to join us for the Foundations class on Wednesdays at 6:30PM, starting on April 22nd. This five-week class covers the essentials of who we are as a local church and is the primary relational on-ramp into the life of our body. Throughout the class, we’ll discuss who we are and what we believe while building relationships and community together. Learn more and register…

SPRING CLASSES

As you consider how God is calling you to take the next step in your faith, our upcoming set of classes are a great way to grow in your knowledge and love of God and all that He is for us. In light of Covid-19, we are offering these classes virtually via video call where you will be live with the instructor.

  • Session 1: Begins Wednesday, April 22nd and includes Christianity Explained and Suffering: Understanding & Experiencing God’s Grace.
  • Session 2: Begins May 27th and includes Developing Meaningful Relationships and Meeting With God.

If you are new with DCC, we would encourage you to start with the Foundations Class which takes place at the same time.

Learn more about our classes and register…

CORNERSTONE COMMUNITIES

For those who have already taken the Foundations class and have been participating with us for a while, we invite you to further embed in the life of our church by joining one of our Cornerstone Communities. While this season presents new barriers to fellowship, our communities are still operating virtually, and would love to welcome you in!

To join a Cornerstone Community, check out the current list of communities, and fill out this form.

CONNECT & PRAYER

Below are some additional ways for us as a body to connect, pray together, and share life in the midst of “social distancing”:

  • Pre-Livestream Connect & Prayer: These calls are facilitated by DCC pastors and are an opportunity to go before the throne of grace before the livestream gathering-while-scattering. Look out for Sunday Morning Guide email with meeting details.
  • Midweek Connect & Prayer: These calls are facilitated by DCC pastors as well and are meant as a way to fellowship with one another through the week. Check out our weekly DCC News emails for meeting details.
  • Prayer Night: We regularly gather together for an evening of prayer, scripture, and song, asking our Father to do what only He can do. Our next Prayer Night will be on Sunday evening, April 26th. Learn more…
  • New to DCC and looking to meet others? Cornerstone Connects exist to help connect people with shared interests. With current gatherings restrictions in place, our Digital Connect is a way to meet others in our body for social hangouts, games, and more! Check out upcoming events and join here.

Lastly, I encourage you to stay connected with us by installing the DCC App where we post important church-wide updates and notifications.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org. I am praying that this season will be one of growth in your knowledge, love, and trust of the Lord!

Blessings,
Justin

Jan 16
2020

An Invitation to Women’s Discipleship Day

Discipleship, Event | by Deacon Jen Keogh

Dear Ladies of DCC,

Our next Women’s Discipleship Day will take place on February 1st and I invite you to join us for it! This one-day event is a rich opportunity to gather with our sisters to worship our great and glorious God, receive teaching from His Word by women in our body, and point one another to the hope of His Gospel and the immeasurable riches found in Him alone.

WHY PARTICIPATE IN WOMEN’S DISCIPLESHIP DAY?

With all of life’s demands as it relates to our work, school, kids, etc., it can be so easy for our hearts to lose sight of what is truly of eternal value and worth – our relationship with God and finding our joy in all His goodness toward us, in Jesus. Women’s Discipleship Day is meant to be a time for us to slow down, and learn and grow together in ways we can trust in God while we navigate all of life’s busyness as women of faith.

WHAT CAN I EXPECT FROM THIS DAY?

There will be rich, biblical teaching from women within DCC. We will be meditating on Jesus’ Parable of Soils from Mark 4:1-20. You will hear testimonies from other women on the worldly concerns that threatened to choke out their faith and how God delivered them from it. We’ll praise our God together in musical worship and prayer, as well as spend time in personal reflection and table discussions. Our goal for us ladies is to walk away from the day better equipped to till the soil of our souls for His Glory and for our edification.

WHAT IF I HAVE PLANS?

Consider changing your plans to prioritize time spent in scripture, prayer, and fellowship with one another. Our next Women’s Discipleship Retreat will not be until next fall, so we hope that you will make this day a priority to the benefit of your soul and your sisters in Christ.

WHAT IF I DON’T KNOW ANYONE?

Don’t worry – you’re not the only one! This event is a great opportunity to meet other women in DCC, and build and strengthen relationships. Consider inviting a friend; you don’t have to be a member to participate. In fact, invite the woman sitting next to you at our next gathering. One of our prayers for this day is that each woman will find the beginnings of a deep, discipling relationship with others in our body.

WHY ONLY A SINGLE DAY EVENT?

Our reason for a single day event is to eliminate many of the barriers that come with a weekend retreat. A single day event allows for much shorter commute, lower cost, and easier family logistics while preserving valuable time for studying God’s Word, worshipping and praying with one another, and practical application.

WHAT DOES THE $25 REGISTRATION FEE INCLUDE?

The cost includes a light breakfast, coffee throughout the day, a box lunch, materials for the day, parking, and a book giveaway. If this presents a financial hardship – just let us know in the registration form, as there are scholarships available!

WILL CORNERSTONE KIDS BE PROVIDED?

Please note Cornerstone Kids will not be provided as we’d love for this time to be focused and fruitful for the ladies. We encourage husbands, family, or friends to help care for children during this time.

EVENT DETAILS

WHEN: Saturday, February 1st
WHERE: DCC Building – 2333 Western Ave, 98121
TIME: 9 am to 4 pm. Doors open at 8 am for registration and light breakfast.
LUNCH: Box lunch included with registration.
PARKING: Free parking is available in both lots next to the building for this event. Validation will be available at the Bell Harbor Garage (located at 2323 Elliott Avenue) if both parking lots are full.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

If you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to email:
women@downtowncornerstone.org

In Christ,
Jen Keogh
Deacon of Women’s Discipleship

Jan 3
2020

How To Grow With Us This Year

Community, Discipleship | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Hello!

As we head into 2020, there are a number of ways to grow with us – and we hope you will take full advantage of all that God has prepared for you this year! It is our prayer that all who consider DCC their home church would be relationally connected, intentionally growing, meaningfully serving and giving, missionally engaged, willingly accountable, and known by a pastor. Fundamentally, we are a local people in gospel-forged relationships who desire to know Jesus and make him known. To that end, I’d invite you to consider what your next step would be to grow in 2020.

NEW WITH US?

If you’re new to DCC, join us this Sunday, January 5th, for our next Newcomers’ Coffee. This will be held after both gatherings and is an opportunity for you to meet a pastor, connect with leaders, hear our story, learn what we believe, ask any questions you may have, and identify your next steps—along with others who are doing the same (No need to RSVP).

I’d also encourage you to join us for the Foundations class on Sundays at 9 am, starting on January 12th. This five-week class covers the essentials of who we are as a local church and is the primary relational on-ramp into the life of our body. Throughout the class, we’ll discuss who we are and what we believe while building relationships and community together. Learn more and register HERE.

LIFE WITH DCC

For those who have already taken the Foundations class and have been participating with us for a while, we invite you to further embed in the life of our church through:

CLASSES & DISCIPLESHIP

Lastly, as you consider how God is calling you to take the next step in your faith, our upcoming set of classes are a great way to grow in your knowledge and love of God and all that He is for us:

  • Session 1 begins this Wednesday, January 8th: Systematic Theology II, Financial Stewardship, and Unity & Diversity.
  • Session 2 begins February 12th: Systematic Theology II (contd.), Parenting, and Missions.

Learn more about these classes and register HERE.

For the ladies especially, there are two unique opportunities this winter:

  • Women’s Bible Study: Wednesday mornings from 10 am – 12 pm, starting January 8th. This will be a 13-week study on Ephesians, with childcare incorporated. Learn more and register HERE.
  • Women’s Discipleship Day: Saturday, February 1st, from 9 am – 4 pm. This will be a relational, interactive day with singing, mingling, discussion, and times of learning, reflection, and prayer. Learn more and register HERE.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at justin@downtowncornerstone.org. I am praying that this next year will be one of growth in your knowledge, love, and trust of the Lord!

Blessings,
Justin

Oct 3
2019

An Invitation to Men’s Training Day

Discipleship, Event | by Pastor Justin Keogh

Men of DCC,

In just over two weeks, on Saturday, October 19th will be our 2019 Men’s Training Day, from 9a-3p at DCC’s building. Think of this single-day event as a “mini-man-camp,” but without the drive! We’ll be gathering for instruction from God’s Word on what it means to cultivate a fruitful life in Christ. We’ll also be hearing testimonies of God’s work among us, with space for personal reflection and group discussion.

Over the years, I’ve found these events to be deeply encouraging – and I know many others have as well. I’d encourage you to make it a priority to attend, as an investment in your relationship with Jesus as well as an opportunity to build relationships within our body. It is our prayerful aim to gather with 200 men!

What will we be doing?

Anchored in Jesus’ parable of the soils (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23), we’ll consider what it means to bear fruit through receiving the Word. We’ll look at those things, internally and externally, that threaten to choke out our faith, and how to combat them. The goals of the day are to instruct and equip through the Word and to build relationships across our church body.

What if I have plans?

Consider changing them and making this an intentional investment in your faith. We only host these training events every nine months, so there are limited opportunities to grow in this unique way. You can bring others too! You don’t have to be a member to attend; you’ve just got to be a dude. (Don’t worry, ladies, there will be a Women’s Training Day in February!)

What if I don’t know anyone?

Don’t worry – you won’t be the only one! This event is a great way to meet other men in our body. Events like these are like relational Insta-pots: you can grow in your relationships more through a single day like this together than over many months of short meet-and-greet conversations.

Why a single day event?

Our goal is to remove many of the barriers that exist with a full weekend retreat – a much shorter drive (and no ferries!), easier family logistics, lower cost – while keeping much of the same rich biblical content, time with brothers in worship and discussion, and practical equipping.

What does the $25 cost include?

We’ll provide a light breakfast, coffee throughout the day, a box lunch, the materials for the day, parking, and a book. If the cost is a financial hardship – just let us know in the registration, as there are scholarships available!

With all of that, here are the event details:

WHEN: Saturday, October 19th
WHERE: DCC’s Building – 2333 Western Ave, 98121
TIME: Doors open for registration and light refreshments at 8a, the event starts at 9a and will go until 3p.
PARKING: Free parking is available in both lots next to the building for this event. Validation will be available at the Bell Harbor Garage (located at 2323 Elliott Avenue) if both parking lots are full.
LUNCH: Box lunch included with registration.

Click here to register.

I am looking forward to gathering with you on the 19th!

Pastor Justin

Feb 11
2019

Start the Year Taking Fresh Steps of Faith

Discipleship, Teaching | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

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

Here is how our series came together this year: 

Storing Up God’s Word

A Gospel-Forged People in a Divided Age

Rebooting Your Prayer Life

The Wonder of Jesus’ Local Church

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

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

#1 Memorize one verse a week 

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

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

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

#3 Refocus your prayer life

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

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

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

Bearing Gospel fruit in our everyday lives

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

Christ is all,
Pastor Adam

Dec 15
2018

Until The World Knows

Discipleship, Missions | by Pastor Adam Sinnett

The prophet Habakkuk prophesied of a coming day when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14). God’s millennia-spanning rescue project is global in nature.

Jesus re-emphasized this globe-sized vision, and how it would be brought about, in his Great Commission, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Mt. 28:19). In other words, God’s glory fills the earth as disciples are made in every nation and will culminate with his triumphant return. The scope and significance of this mission are staggering—and we play an integral part in it.

How? By supporting the planting of Jesus-centered, gospel-preaching, bible-teaching churches that then, in turn, plant churches here and abroad. That is why we belong to Acts 29.

Last week, I went to Brazil to teach and get a sense of how our partnership with Acts 29 Brazil and Restore Brazil is progressing. Honestly, I couldn’t be more excited to see what Jesus is doing there and the impact we are having through our financial, relational, and spiritual support.

We were one of the first two churches to support Acts 29 Brazil. When we began this partnership there were no Acts 29 churches. Today, there are 28 churches, along with 30 more candidate-planters in the pipeline.

Integral to the development of these planters is a Residency program that our financial support, in large part, makes happen. The Residency consists of two cohorts of ten pastors (i.e. 20 total) who meet every month over the course of two years for training. Here is a photo of the current Residents:

One of those Residents is Eduardo Faria. He is at the very beginning of planting a church in the Ipanema neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. Yes, that Ipanema. Like every other major city, including our own, Rio is divided into distinct neighborhoods. There are 40,000 people in Ipanema and not a single gospel-centered evangelical church. This is the first and we are playing a key role in role in making it happen.

Here is a personal note from Eduardo:

As a church, we have directly helped plant over 100 churches through financial support, training, and ongoing coaching—and that’s just in our short seven and a half years of life. It is so kind of the Lord to allow us to participate in such valuable and concrete ways. This is not, in any way, to draw attention to ourselves but to highlight the ways he is using us to point to him (Ps. 115:1).

So, let’s stay faithful, prayerful, and generous. Who knows what he may do next? But, what we do know is that he will get the glory, and we will get the joy—until the world knows.

Christ is all, 
Pastor Adam