2009 Pastor’s Report
A couple of weeks ago I was at the symphony with my wife Rhonda and the Caricos. We listened to Tchaikovsky and Schumann for most of the evening. Tchaikovsky’s piece was played by Leonidas Kavakos on the violin. Kavakos is one of the most sought after violin virtuosos in the world and played for 45 minutes with passion and without pause. Tchaikovsky wrote of the piece that was played, “Tonight I was seized quite unexpectedly with fiery inspiration. I couldn’t resist my desire to sketch a concerto, and I was carried away…” As I listened, I closed my eyes to soak in the music and found myself also carried away.
As the orchestra so beautifully weaved the music together after the intermission I was brought back to reality as a man behind me added his own chords to the music. The music still played, but its rapturous quality was stunted by the sound of snoring.
There have been times this past year when I felt like this about our congregation and direction as a church. God has gifted us with talented musicians, hospitable families, and compassionate officers and members. Some days I closed my eyes to soak in the blessings of the Lord upon our church. We need that. We need to pause and take note of the good things God is doing in our lives. After all, God is good all the time.
And yet, as these rapturous moments reached their peaks in my mind, I have often heard the voice of a brother or sister in need or upset about something related to the church. As I reflect upon it, I am reminded of the snoring amidst the music. While abrupt, the snoring actually makes the experience that much more real.
There is always a temptation to let the snoring ruin the experience – to let it distract to the point of frustration. But the fact is that the music is still being played…beautifully. We can still hear the music if we choose to listen, and we need to listen to it. At the same time, we need to hear the snoring. It guards us against pride and stagnation and reminds us that God’s work of redemption is not finished. Our mission as a church to seek renewal is ongoing. We must not grow weary as a congregation as we pray and live for Jesus’ Kingdom to come.
Looking back at 2008
This past year has been very encouraging and humbling. It is encouraging because we have seen the fruit of a prior year of planning and building. We completed one phase of our remodeling efforts. We have full use of a remodeled Education building and a rejuvenated and redesigned Sanctuary building. We made our property and buildings available to the community. Cub/boy scouts, PAideia (a classical Christian school), and two other churches are all using our buildings. All of this goes on in addition to our regular activities within our walls.
The remodeling of our sanctuary has been a big encouragement to us as a congregation as it enhances our worship experience and our ability to fellowship with visitors and each other on Sunday mornings. There is a natural flow for parents and children now. It is amazing how much your physical property can impact ministry.
More importantly, however, we have been encouraged by seeing the Lord at work. We set out to focus on “mentoring and missions” in 2008.
With regard to missions, we sent a team to the Gulf Coast to work with other churches in restoring their community after hurricane Katrina hit. 20 people were among the people Cornerstone sent out. Rhonda and I joined the Anthis family on a trip to Nigeria where we experienced much of the kinds of ministry that Joel and Cindy participated in while they lived and served there. These kinds of experiences proved to reveal the gospel’s power in tangible ways. I cannot encourage you enough to get involved in mission activity.
With regard to mentoring, our women’s ministry has been connecting women together in mentoring relationships through the “heart-to-heart” ministry. In an effort to foster mentoring among the men, we took a group of men to the “Men at the Cross” conference. While the format didn’t resonate with all of the men, the teaching and emphasis on mentoring were good and served as a springboard to try and help facilitate mentoring among our men. We also continue to have the men’s prayer breakfast each week that provides opportunities to talk about our lives with other as we springboard discussion from the teaching of various books.
Setting Course for 2009: Mercy and Community
One surprising element of 2008 came in the way of mercy ministry. About midway through the year, we made cards available for people to write down needs among our neighbors in the community. Not long after, hurricane Ike hit and we found ourselves sending people all around town to help out neighbors and friends of friends in repairing fences and removing trees. In addition, we added an element of mercy ministry focus using Tim Keller’s books Mercy Ministries and Resources for Deacons for our deacon training. As a whole, our congregation has seen an increased awareness of mercy ministry both as a living out of the gospel and in new opportunities. God has opened the door to work with a homeless community living near our church property and members have helped in finding housing, employment opportunities, and medical needs. God also brought to us a flow of international college students. Two of our families are hosting lunches for them each week. Two of the students are now living with our families.
It makes sense that we continue in 2009 to develop this area of mercy ministry as we seek to associate the works of the gospel with the words of the gospel. God teaches us that these two things always go together.
Another surprising element of 2008 came by way of the new Wednesday night community building program, Cornerstone School of Covenant and Kingdom. This is a product of lots of prayer and much brainstorming by Nathan (Assistant Pastor of family and missions) and Carol (our children’s director). It has allowed us to involve more people from our church family as well as friends in the community. We want to focus on making this even better in 2009.
As we focus on mentoring and missions be mindful of our vision and core values:
Vision: To seek the renewal of our families and our city by bringing faith and life together.
Core values: Gospel power, Family renewal, and Outreach.
Serving the Kingdom with you for the glory of God,