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January 1, 2017 | Various Passages

I would imagine that most of us here understand the basic fundamentals of basketball. I want you to compare your knowledge of basketball to an experience I had. In high school, I was strongly encouraged to wrestle instead of play basketball. Ironically, we often began our wrestling practices with a game of basketball. No one started the game off with a jump ball. We didn’t have referees running up and down the court calling fouls. Typically someone just grabbed a basketball and started running down the court. Of course the entire court was covered in wrestling mats, so you couldn’t dribble. Instead, a player would run down the court, lowering their shoulder into whoever crossed their path, until someone tackled them to the floor. Basically the only rule was to get the basketball in the goal. With those rules, good thing there were mats on the floor. It’s no wonder that later in my life when I played actual basketball, people would wine about how physical I was and call fouls. And I thought I was playing soft! I never tackled them! With all that said, we still called it basketball.

Isn’t that kind of like church? Thousands of small groups of people join together each Sunday morning and they call themselves a church, but their church purpose may be quite different than what you have experienced or believe to be true.

The mission of the Church is to . . . transform society so that the world may be a better and more peaceful place in which to live.[1]

Our vision for Purpose Church is this: Everyone Everywhere Following Jesus. That’s it. It’s that simple.[2]

Jesus established his church and maintained his mission on a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing. This is the continuing mission of the Church of Christ, Scientist.[3]

They all call themselves a church, but they are doing church with very different rules. This is why it’s so important for us to clearly articulate both our doctrinal positions and our church’s purpose.

Church Purpose

We are committed to exalting Jesus Christ by fulfilling His expectations for His church as revealed in Scripture; therefore we will glorify God, edify believers, and testify to the lost.

Biblically Based. Psalm 119:105 tells us, “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  God has chosen to reveal Himself to us through the Bible. The Bible is God’s perfect and authoritative Word for all of life. The Bible alone instructs how we, people created in God’s image and for His glory, should live in a right relationship with Him and with others. It follows, then, that we must make the teaching of God’s Word the central and binding authority in all that we believe and do.

Glorify Christ. In God’s Word we find that it is the purpose for all people to glorify God with their lives. “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity” (2 Peter 3:18, ESV). God alone is worthy of our worship. Our goal is to love and worship Him above all else, and this worship begins within our heart. “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45). We desire to glorify God by reflecting and declaring His character. As we glorify God, those we are around will be affected. As we testify to God’s glory or reflect His character, believers will be encouraged or we will be testifying to God’s glory to unbelievers.

Edify Believers. Flowing from the primary purpose of glorifying God is the edification of believers.  The Holy Spirit has gifted each authentic believer with gifts to contribute to the spiritual development of our church. We desire to glorify God by reproducing biblically based believers who will edify others and testify to the lost.  We will encourage God’s people to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ, to discover and develop spiritual gifts, and to grow in their faith. We will accomplish this through the following. (1) Fellowship. The fostering of relationships in which all participants actively share Christ and His purposes in common. (2) Exaltation (Corporate Worship). An acknowledgment of God’s greatness which is accompanied by a response of humility. Our opportunities to exalt the greatness of God are found in scripture reading, prayer, singing, and the ordinances. (3) Accountability.  We desire to foster accountability by building relationships which promote honest evaluation and obedience to God. (4) Service. Contributing to the spiritual and physical needs of others. (5) Teaching. The formal and informal instruction of God’s Word whereby believers are equipped to do the work of ministry.

Testify to the Lost. Cornerstone desires to share the light of Christ with our community. Cornerstone embraces the great commission to engage our world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We are committed to loving the people in our community and sharing with them the life-changing message of Jesus Christ. We encourage, equip, empower, and expect every member to be personally involved in proclaiming the glory of our God, and what He has done through His Son.

Steps to Purpose

Let’s step back into our basketball comparison. I now find myself as an elementary basketball coach. We start each practice by going to the football fields and tackling the dummies! I’m just kidding J Let’s assume that we have successfully communicated the rules or purpose of the game in accordance with the rule book. They know that we are to do a jump ball to start the game. They know that you have to dribble and that you can’t run with the ball. They know that you have to make it in just one goal, not both. They know that you can’t tackle people, although I would love to see that periodically. Let me ask this, are they ready to play? I suppose they may be ready to run out there and have a fun time, but who’s supposed to play where? Who’s supposed to bring the ball up the court? Who should he pass to? What if the other team does a full court press? How are they to get the ball down the court? So then, the coach determines a set of plays to be run in different circumstances, and he determines who goes where and who passes to whom.

They know their goal is to get the ball into the hoop but they may struggle knowing how to best do that. They don’t know the steps in accomplishing their goal. Once again, this can be true of the church. We’ve established the purpose of the church – glorify, edify, and testify. But what does that look like? How is the church going to facilitate that? What steps, as Cornerstone Church, do we take in accomplishing that purpose? Glorify, edify, and testify can feel kind of abstract at times, kind of hard to manage or work out.

So then, in the last year, the elders developed Cornerstone’s “Steps to Purpose.” With these steps we desire to facilitate this church family in accomplishing our purpose.

Step 1 (Join)

Steps to joining. (1) regular attendance, (2) membership class, (3) membership form, (4) meet with elders, and (5) received into formal membership.

Pictures of the church. (1) The church as a group of believers (1 Cor 3:9; Eph 2:21; 2 Cor 6:16). (2) The church as a body (Rom 12:4-5; 1 Cor 12). (3) The church as a flock (1 Peter 5:2). (4) The church as a family (1 Tim 3:15; Eph 1:5).

Reasons to join a church. (1) Membership matches the pattern of the early church (Acts 2:41, 47; 6:1-3; 2 Cor 2:6). (2) Membership provides accountability for sin (Matt 18:15-17). (3) Membership gives protection from false teachers (Acts 20:28-30). (4) Membership demonstrates commitment to the body (Eph 4:15-16). (5) Membership supplies clarity of leadership (Heb 13:17). (6) Membership multiples the impact of your life (Eph 3:10).

STEP 2 (Grow)

Throughout church history, local churches have struggled balancing between what many have termed orthodoxy and orthopraxy.  Orthodoxy refers to correct doctrine or teachings, and orthopraxy refers to correct practice.  We even see this struggle present within the 7 churches of Revelation.  Some of the churches are commended for their great grasp of doctrine but are condemned for their failure to practice other biblical truths, whereas other churches are commended for their practice but condemned for allowing false teaching to enter the church.  This struggle continues to today.  As Cornerstone Church we desire to take great care in facilitating opportunities for our people to grow in both knowledge and wisdom.

Philippians 1:9–10 (ESV) 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ . . .

Colossians 1:9–10 (ESV) 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

Grow in Knowledge: Learning Biblical Truth. We purpose to offer opportunities within our church structure that will allow for a believer to grow in knowledge.  Knowledge is best obtained through both passive and active participation.  An example of passive participation would be a Sunday morning message where little interaction would be expected.  On the other hand, active participation would be encouraged during times such as a Bible Study Group. The purpose of both of these opportunities is to offer biblical truth.  While the practical implications of a passage will be acknowledged, practice will not be the primary focus at these points.  The expectation will be that the participant takes the knowledge and personally applies it.

Sunday Morning Worship Service. The worship service has many purposes (ie. corporate praise, service, communion, prayer); but in reference to the spoken message, the primary purpose is to assist participants in growing in their knowledge of God’s Word. We believe the Word of God is our sole source for faith and practice (2 Tim 3:16).  Therefore, we believe an exegetical approach to the proclamation of Scripture is the best model. By exegetical we mean that we will strive to proclaim Scripture first in its original context and then “bridge the gap” to our modern culture by means of application. (1) Timebound Context. Truths are drawn directly from the text by means of questions, word studies, cross references, etc., and at this point, no additional commentary or conclusions are drawn.  This step simply states what the text says. (2) Timeless Principles. This step takes the statements, bound to their original context, and transforms them into timeless truths that would apply to any culture at any time and in any place. (3) Timely Application. This step takes the timeless truths and applies them to the specific modern audience.  This may be culturally or geographically specific.  While there are many timely applications there is only one correct interpretation.

Bible Study Groups. The primary purpose of Bible Study Groups (ie. Sunday School) is to offer an opportunity for active participation around the truth of Scripture.  While studies may vary from a topical study to a bible book study, every study will approach Scripture from an exegetical standpoint. 

Grow in Wisdom (Applying Biblical Truth). Life Groups are the primary ministry in which Cornerstone facilitates its’ purpose to help believers grow in wisdom.  These life groups will have a component of biblical knowledge, but will primarily dwell on the application of biblical truth to the pressing issues of each member’s life.  The purpose in these life groups will be to “walk together” through the Christian life while assessing challenges and victories through the grid of scriptural truth.

STEP 3 (Serve)

Step 1: Identify Gifts, Talents, Abilities, and Desires. The first step towards service may begin either with a member communicating a desire to serve in a specific area of ministry or by others in the church seeing within someone an ability to serve. There are a couple of areas of ministry in which the church leadership will appoint a member to a particular role.  Once the need and desire is established, the member would meet with leadership to discuss personal gifting, abilities, and desires.  This meeting may confirm this desire or it may result in being directed to another area of need or ability.

Step 2: Equip For Service. Once the specific area of need is established the steps towards being equipped for that area of service will be implemented.  Each area of ministry will have its’ own specific steps which are outlined on the next few pages.

Step 3: Practice Spiritual Gifts. As part of our church covenant, and in line with Scripture (Romans 12:4-6), we commit to “use the gifts, talents, and resources God has given us to build up the body of Christ at Cornerstone.”   We desire to implement the spiritual gifts that God has given each of us so that the whole body is both ministering and being ministered to. Once the two previous steps have been accomplished (identify and equip), we desire to release you to serve in the manner in which God has prepared you.

STEP 4 (Disciple)

Biblical Foundation. A disciple, in the context of the church, is a follower of Jesus Christ.  A disciple not only follows the teachings and practices of Christ, but draws others into a similar relationship. We believe we would fall short of our purpose here at Cornerstone if we were to only grow and serve without ever drawing others into the same life changing and eternally rewarding process.

Matthew 28:18–20 (ESV) 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Christian discipleship is a process in which a disciple grows in the knowledge and grace of Jesus Christ and does so through the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, who resides in their hearts. As a believer grows in being conformed to the image of Christ, the appropriate and natural following step is to assist another in doing the same.

What might that look like? When we consider the idea of discipleship many ideas and expectations may come to mind.  Some people may immediately think this demands regular, confrontational conversations about the gospel with unsaved individuals.  Others may see discipleship as a ministry within the church primarily.

The scope of discipleship spans everything from being the instrument God uses to draw someone to Christ initially to an ongoing teacher within the life of a believer. As a church we desire to facilitate every area of discipleship.  Some people may excel at the verbal proclamation of the gospel whereas others may be gifted in teaching.  Some people may be an accountability and prayer partner of a growing believer, while others may immerse themselves in community outreach. As members within Cornerstone grow and fulfill God’s commission to disciple others, we desire to facilitate and assist them in obeying this great command.  We desire to be part of God’s overall plan of extending His glory to all tribes, tongues, and nations.

[1] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Accessed December 30, 2016. https://www.lds.org/manual/teachings-david-o-mckay/chapter-3?lang=eng#5-36492_000_007

[2] Accessed December 30, 2016. http://purposeclaremont.com/2016/12/19/the-launch-january-15-2017/

[3] Mary Baker Eddy. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. (Christian Science). Accessed December 31, 2016. http://www.christianscience.com/what-is-christian-science/beliefs-and-teachings/christian-science-brochure

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