Mission Drift

Someone asked me on Sunday if my message was a response to the Maximizing Impact Weekend. The answer is: yes and no.   (If you weren’t here for the message you can find it here.)

While the message wasn’t in response to the Maximizing Impact report, it was in response to the Maximizing Impact weekend.  As I was preparing for my interview I realized that I had drifted from what I used to be passionate about, that is, pastoring a church that was helping to depopulate hell.  And so the message on Sunday was a reminder, first of all to me, about what Cornerstone is supposed to be about.

It’s easy to drift in life.  If we aren’t careful, what was important to us yesterday won’t continue to be important to us tomorrow, unless we focus on it and work at it today.

We see that in our education, our careers and our marriages, what used to thrill us has just become ordinary.  And sometimes we need a reminder of that.  And then, if we feel that whatever it is that we’ve drifted from should still be an important part of our life, then we need to follow the advice of Jesus and return to our first love.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.  

Terms and Conditions: The Sabbath

If you follow me on Facebook, that’s assuming that you’ve read the terms and conditions for Facebook and agreed to them, then you might have seen some of my posts from the Babylonian Bee, which is a Christian Satire site, recently this one struck me as fitting.

 

BOSTON, MA—Local man Justin Fuller immediately fell dead after clicking “I have read and accept these terms and conditions” when installing a new piece of software Friday morning.

The Lord and Sovereign Judge, from which nothing is hidden, could tell Fuller had not even glanced at the twelve pages of legalese, and thus his checking of the box was a lie against which God took immediate vengeance.

 

“This is very scary,” said software analysis Terrell Bennett. “It makes me wonder if other people have not been reading the end-user license agreement. It’s an important contract between the licensor and the purchaser, and it could be chaos if people didn’t understand all the ramifications of what they were agreeing to. If you click you accept those terms and conditions without having read them, you’re lying to the software vendor, to your MacBook Pro, and to the Creator of us all who is always watching.”

 

CompuGlobal, the maker of the software Fuller was installing, has informed Fuller’s wife she will get a full refund for the computer program since the EULA was not properly agreed to. “Hopefully everyone in the future will take the time to read the terms and conditions,” said David Zimmerman, the lawyer who wrote the EULA.

 

“When we put the contracts in the install step, we assume everyone reads them and it is legally binding,” Zimmerman added before immediately falling dead.

 

 

This is week 4 of Terms and Conditions and in week 1 we defined Terms and Conditions this way; Rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.

 

In week one we talked about the terms and conditions in the beginning that man and woman were created to be in fellowship with God, there was just one thing on the terms and conditions, don’t eat from that one tree, you can eat from any other tree in the garden, just don’t eat from that one tree.  And you know where they went fruit picking.

 

And because of their disobedience, humanities relationship with God was damaged.

 

The next week we looked at the terms and conditions for worshipping God, that is meeting him in a restored relationship.  And we discovered that God not only wants our relationship with him to be right but also our relationship with others to be right.  And we talked about apologies and forgiveness.

 

Last week we looked at the terms and conditions for Evangelism, remember Evangel means good news, so these are the rules and conditions for telling people the good news about Jesus.  And we started with the observation that God cares about lost people and wants them to be found.  The T & Cs of that is that in order for someone to hear the message someone has to share the message.  And out of that, I shared the vision and mission of Cornerstone.

 

Today we are going in a little different direction.  In the scripture that was read earlier, we heard these words, Isaiah 58:13-14  “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honour the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.  Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honour and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

 

So, let’s start with The Service The prophet tells the people of Israel that if they fulfil the terms and conditions the service that they can avail themselves of is the delight of the Lord.  But what does that mean?

 

Perhaps the “Delight of the Lord’ is most evident when it’s missing.  And most of us have felt that absence at times.

 

You ever feel like the Rabbit in “Alice in Wonderland”?  You know the one, he’s always rushing this way and that looking at his watch and muttering, “I’m late, I’m late”.  It seems that every hour of every day is filled to the limit with things that need doing and we never seem to have enough time to do it all.  How often have you caught yourself wishing for more hours in the day or more days in the week so that you could finally catch up and finish everything that you are supposed to do?

 

That wouldn’t do any good though, we all know Murphy’s law and some of us know about Newton’s law of gravity, but how many of us are familiar with Parkinson’s Law?  It was first set forth in the middle of the last century, 1955 to be exact, by C. Northcote Parkinson.  And Parkinson’s law states  “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

 

And so regardless of how much time you had available you still wouldn’t have enough.  And if you were granted your wish of having an extra day in each week your stress level would simply be added to, because you would have one more day to try to jam too much into.  Maybe instead we should wish for shorter days with fewer days in the week to limit our crazy schedules.

 

Modern technology promised us that all of the new conveniences would save us time and make our lives easier, but in the workplace, computers, and cell phones have increased the pace of our work rather than reducing it.

 

At home dishwashers, washing machines, vacuums, microwaves not to mention computers and cell phones have made life easier but to go back to Parkinson law, work expands to fill the time available for its completion.

 

And so, mothers lose the time they saved to schlepping the kids around to hockey, music and school activities.  Even our kids are stressed out because so much of their time is scheduled and there is so little time to just be a kid, playing and allowing their imaginations to run wild.

 

It is a never-ending circle that seems to escalate over time until finally, there is no more time.  Henry Twells an English poet who lived in the 1800’s wrote:

 

When as a child I laughed and wept,

Time crept.

When as a youth I waxed more bold,

Time strolled.

When I became a full-grown man,

Time RAN.

When older still I daily grew,

Time FLEW.

Soon I shall find, in passing on,

Time gone.

O Christ! wilt Thou have saved me then?

Amen.

 

And that doesn’t sound like what David was talking about when he wrote in Psalm 37:4  Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you your heart’s desires.

 

That’s cool but it still begs the question, how do we delight in the Lord?

 

Let’s go back to our original scripture again, Isaiah 58:13-14  “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honour the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly.  Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honour and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

 

 

So here are The Terms and Conditions  Very simply,  keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day.

 

Unfortunately, The Sabbath as a day of rest seems to be an archaic thought in 2018.

 

You’re thinking “Well sure, that was fine for back then when people didn’t have as much to do, as far to go, but no sir not for 2018, in 2018 we need every hour of every day and every day of the week to get done what we have to get done.”  And that my friend is a crock.

 

Please remember one cardinal rule of life, “You do, what you want to do.”  The fourth commandment was not given just for the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness, and it wasn’t just given for Jesus and his disciples and it wasn’t just given for John Wesley and the early Methodists in the 1700’s or and it wasn’t just given for your grandparents.  The fourth commandment is as valid today as it was 30 years ago, 200 years ago, 2000 years ago or 4000 years ago.

 

God didn’t just give it annoy people or to mess up their plans for the weekend he did it because he knew what we are like.  He knew that if he didn’t legislate a time out in our lives that we wouldn’t take one.

 

A tree has to take a break, it can’t say, “you know I really should produce leaves all year round and fruit in January when it’s cold and miserable.”   A tree can’t say that, it has no choice it must take a break because that’s the way it was created.

 

But people are different, we have our freedom and that is the problem.  We can drive our bodies, minds and emotions well past the breaking point.  We have the power of choice and because of that power, we are always in danger of destroying ourselves for some false set of values.

 

It might be work, it might be aging parents, it might be the desire to be the perfect parent and in a combination, it provides a deadly cocktail for burn out.

 

Because of this great hazard God gave us a great gift, the Sabbath day, a day set apart, the Lord’s day, a day of rest and worship, relaxation, recuperation and joy.  It is his gift to all of us, but it’s up to each one of us to decide whether or not we will accept it.

 

A lot of confusion, misunderstanding, dogmatism and hard feelings are generated by this commandment.  Almost everybody uses it to prove some point of view.

 

So, let’s move very carefully as we explore what it means to observe the Sabbath today.

 

Now at this point, we need to clarify that in the Christian church, in most cases, we do not celebrate the Sabbath.

 

The Sabbath was the last day of the week,  and the commandment to observe it is found in Exodus 20:8-10  Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  You have six days each week for your ordinary work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.

 

The seventh day of the week or the Sabbath has historically been celebrated from sundown Friday until sundown on Saturday.  And in its original form, it merely forbade the performance of work on the seventh day, it was set apart as a day of total rest.

 

And so, our Sunday, which is the first day of the week, is not the historical Sabbath.  But we are Christians, not Jews; most of us aren’t even Christian Jews like the early church.  I know that in our Christian vocabulary and in our hymns and poems we certainly use the word “Sabbath” as a valid figure of speech when referring to Sunday, but we need to understand that the two are not the same.

 

The fourth commandment is the only Old Testament commandment that is not repeated anywhere in the New Testament, nowhere.  Each of the other nine commandments is reiterated and often made even tougher in the New Testament, but not this one.

 

There is no record of Jesus ever teaching anyone to keep the Sabbath.  As far as we know, no apostle ever told anyone to observe it.  In John 5:18 we are told that Jesus violated the Sabbath and in other stories, we almost get the impression that he did so very deliberately.

 

 

But if the letter of the law, the seventh day Sabbath, is not applicable to us today, certainly the principle of the Sabbath still is.  Because it is grounded in the nature of God, in the nature of man and in the nature of creation.

 

Although the New Testament nowhere echoes the exact literal Saturday Sabbath command it certainly reinforces the divine principle behind the command.  That principle is that a specific and proportionate amount of time is set apart for rest and worship.

 

That principle was not first laid down in the book of Exodus but in the book of Genesis, which tells how God himself rested after six days of creative labour.  And even before the Commandments were given, earlier in the book of Exodus when God provided manna for the Israelites to eat, he told them to gather a double portion on the sixth day, so they wouldn’t have to collect it on the seventh day.

 

The Christians of the New Testament soon discarded the literal Seventh Day Sabbath but kept the Sabbath day principle.  Instead of keeping the last day of the week, they began to keep the first day of the week, which we call Sunday.

 

Why?   Because it was recognized as being the day Christ arose from the dead.  Paul follows 1 Corinthians 15 the great resurrection chapter with these words in 1 Corinthians 16:2  On the first day of each week, you should each put aside a portion of the money you have earned. Don’t wait until I get there and then try to collect it all at once.

 

And so, Paul establishes a principle of a set time of the week when a gift is given to God.  The first day of the week.  But it’s not enough to know where the concept of the Lord’s Day came from, we need to understand why the principle behind the Sabbath is still valid today.  And we find the key in three spots in the scripture.  The first is from the command itself.  Exodus 20:8-10  Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  You have six days each week for your ordinary work,  but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the LORD your God.   And so, the first thing we need to see in this command is that we are called to Rest on the Sabbath

 

We live in a tired generation, we are chasing a brass ring that may never be able to be caught and we are willing to make way too many sacrifices for it, and we do sacrifice for it and it’s not necessarily a new phenomenon listen to what Robert Louis Stevenson wrote over a hundred years ago “Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business is only to be sustained by neglect of many other things.”

 

The rest that God commands us to take allows us to step back from the arena of life and evaluate exactly what it is we are trying to achieve.  Even from a purely physical perspective, it has been proven that people cannot go on indefinitely without things starting to go wrong with their bodies, their minds and their emotions.  God is basically telling us in the fifth commandment, “Take a break”

 

Barbara Brown Taylor writes,  “I do not mean to make an idol of health, but it does seem to me that at least some of us have made an idol of exhaustion. The only time we know we have done enough is when we are running on empty and when the ones we love most are the ones we see the least. When we lie down to sleep at night, we offer our full appointment calendars to God in lieu of prayer, believing that God—who is as busy as we are—will surely understand”

 

Will he?  We used to tell our kids that if they got in an awkward spot and they were being pressured to do something they weren’t comfortable with, that they could blame us.  “I can’t do that my parents would kill me.”

 

God is telling us that we could blame him.  “I know that there are all kinds of things I could do on Sunday, but the bible tells me to take a break.  What can you do?”

 

But it’s not just a day of rest; the next scripture would indicate that there is more to Sabbath observance then simply staying in bed, sorry. Deuteronomy 5:15  Remember that you were once slaves in Egypt, but the LORD your God brought you out with his strong hand and powerful arm. That is why the LORD your God has commanded you to rest on the Sabbath day.

 

Not only does God call us to rest on a special day but he also calls us to Reflect on the Sabbath as well.  In this scripture, God is calling his people to reflect on how He had delivered them from the slavery of Egypt.

 

Today, for Christ Followers, I would suspect that it would be fair to reflect on how God delivered us from sin.

 

Now some people try to rationalize that a Sabbath spent golfing, shopping or going to the beach as fulfilling the spirit of the Sabbath.  Golfers, in particular, plead their case by saying, “I do more real praying on the golf course then I do in church”.  However, “Please God, give me a birdie,” is not recognized as part of any accepted liturgy, nor does it substitute for a good worship service.

 

Sunday is a day for God’s people to get together and to reflect and celebrate what He has done for us.  We do that by singing his praise, by reading and hearing from his word, by lifting up his name in prayer and by giving to his work.  In this case, it’s Cornerstone.

 

We had mentioned previously that it appeared that Jesus had a problem with the Sabbath, which isn’t exactly true, what he had a problem with was what people had done to the Sabbath.  Mark 2:27-28  Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath!”

 

And so we need to learn to Respect the Sabbath

 

Throughout history, the observance of the Sabbath or of the Lord’s Day has inspired two extremes.  People have found ways to misuse this gift just as they’ve found ways to misuse the other gifts that God has given us.  The first extreme are those people who have historically made Sunday into a day of gloom and depression instead of a day of joy and gladness.

 

This is what had happened in Jesus’ day.  The scribes and Pharisees had counted 39 letters in the original langue of the fourth commandment and multiplied 39 by 39 and came up with 1521 and that was the number of ways they had come up with to break the Sabbath.

 

We aren’t going to do the fourth commandment any favours when we turn it into something like “Thou shalt not enjoy life on Sunday.”  Many people mean well, but we cannot make people, especially children, enjoy God by forbidding them to enjoy anything else on Sunday.  Such a rigid observance of Sunday can become just as idolatrous today as it was in Jesus’ day and that is what he was warning us about.

 

But usually today that’s not our problem, is it?  Our problem today is probably the opposite extreme, we take a holy day and turn it into a holiday, a day of commercialized recreation, entertainment and profit.

 

Some of us have taken that passage in Matthew where Jesus says that if your ox falls into a ditch on the Sabbath that it’s all right to pull it out and have used that as an excuse for doing everything and anything on Sunday.

 

The truth is though if we are careful and avoid pushing the ox in the ditch on Monday through Saturday then we won’t have to spend Sunday pulling it out.  And if your ox has a habit of falling into the same ditch every week then you ought to fill in the ditch or get rid of the ox.

 

According to the Bible, God created the Sabbath.  It’s not just a day on which nothing happened, but God blessed it and made it holy.  It is intended as more than just a day of fun or rest.  Within that day represents one-seventh of our week and ultimately one-seventh of our life.

 

The first six days the bible tells us God called “good” the seventh day God made Holy.  So what can we do on Sunday or what should we do?  Good question.  I think I’ll close with a list that Dr. Laura Schlessinger gives in her book “The Ten Commandments, the Significance of God’s laws in everyday life.”  She tells us that we can observe the Sabbath day by:

 

  • Not working for wages or competing for awards
  • Making some time to relax and do nothing. (Although not specified in the Scripture, a Sabbath nap is certainly a divine gift.)
  • Reading and studying religious materials.
  • Playing with children, spouse and family.
  • Taking leisurely strolls.
  • Enjoying wonderful meals and discussions with friends and neighbours.
  • Talking with children about their everyday lives, thoughts, and feelings.
  • Attending religious services, lectures, and discussions.
  • Praying and contemplating.
  • Lovemaking with your spouse (reconnecting in mind, body and spirit).

 

So, enjoy the rest of the day.  Take some time to rest and some time to reflect.

Pardon me?

It’s always interesting to discover new things.  Not always pleasant, but interesting.

As everybody knows the recreational use of marijuana became legal two weeks ago.  Regardless of how you feel about that, and regardless of what politicians might say that genie’s not going back in the bottle.

The new question is; what about those people who were convicted of possession of marijuana through the years?  I have no horse in the race, I was never arrested for possession of marijuana, and so I have no record.  My Daddy would have said that was more the result of good luck than good management.  But half a million Canadians weren’t as lucky and they do have a criminal record.  Perhaps you were one of the unlucky ones.

Research has shown that drug use is pretty consistent regardless of race, but studies have shown a major difference in the likelihood of arrests.  One study discovered that between 2015 and 2017 that first nations people in Regina were nine times more likely than white people to get arrested for possession of pot, and in Halifax, if you were an African Nova Scotian you were five times more likely to be arrested for weed than if you were white.

And that study alone may show why a blanket pardon is necessary.

Have a great week and remember: To see what is really possible, you will have to attempt the impossible.  

Terms and Conditions: Evangelism

In 2013 Apple upgraded the operating systems on their phones to IOS 7 and everyone with an iPhone dutifully clicked “I accept” in order to install the new software on their devices.

It wasn’t long after that that someone posted a screenshot of Page 46.   Apparently, buried deep within the Terms and Conditions were these words.

Oh you know what? This is page 46, nobody’s still reading this. I bet only about five people clicked to read the T&Cs in the first place – we might as well just say anything we like.

Tony on floor 5 of Apple HQ smells of sardines.

When someone sends a funny email around the offices we have to reply with iLaughed. It’s in our job description.

Remember that legal kerfuffle over Apple & Apple studios? Want to know how we fixed it? We bought The Beatles. We have the surviving ones come and sing to us for scraps. We’re looking at ways to reanimate the dead ones.

The canteen only sells apple products. Apples, apple juice, apple flapjacks, toffee apples. We get fired if we’re caught eating anything without apples in it. I’M ALLERGIC TO APPLES AND I’M ALWAYS HUNGRY.

We faked the moon landings. Did it in 2008, then brainwashed you all to believe it happened in 1969, just because we could. If anyone finds out I’ve leaked this information, I’ll be killed. But no one will ever, ever read this.”

 

I would love to tell you that page 46 really existed in Apple’s terms and condition, well I’m sure it exists, just not in that form.

Sadly, it turned out that those terms and conditions were just a joke created by the Huffington Post’s UK Comedy team.

However, in 2017 students at York University in Toronto and the University of Connecticut were offered the chance to join a new social network called NameDrop.

Only a quarter of the students who signed up said they looked at the terms and conditions, but that doesn’t mean they read the terms and conditions, because by clicking “accept” hundreds of students agreed to give NameDrop their future first-born children.

Luckily the students were simply subjects in an experiment run by two communications professors who subsequently wrote a paper about the “Biggest Lie on the Internet”.

This is week 3 of our Terms and conditions series here at Cornerstone and in the first week, we defined Terms and Conditions this way Rules by which one must agree to abide in order to use a service.

In week one we talked about the terms and conditions in the beginning that man and woman were created to be in fellowship with God, there was just one thing on the terms and conditions, don’t eat from that one tree, you can eat from any other tree in the garden, just don’t eat from that one tree.  And you know the end of the story they ate themselves out of house and home.

And because of their disobedience, humanities relationship with God was damaged.

Last week we looked at the terms and conditions for worshipping God, that is meeting him in a restored relationship.  And we discovered that God not only wants our relationship with him to be right but also our relationship with others to be right.

This week we are going into a letter written by Paul where he tells the believers in the church in Rome part of what was expected of them as Jesus Followers.  Let’s pick up the letter in Romans 10:13  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.”

So, let’s begin with The Service

The service, in this case, is the premise that Jesus cares about lost people and wants them to be saved.  Over and over again we see this reflected in the Jesus story, from John 3:16  “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

To Luke 24 where after his death and resurrection Jesus tells those who followed him this, Luke 24:46-47  And Jesus said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day.  It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’

In the second letter that Peter wrote, he is addressing the concern that some believers felt regarding the fact that Christ hadn’t returned and he writes this,  2 Peter 3:9  The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

 

When you say, “Oh how I wish Jesus would return soon.”  You are asking for a line to be drawn in history and for judgment to come.  You are in effect saying that you’ve given up on your loved ones who don’t know Jesus.

 

In Luke chapter 15, Jesus tells three parables in a row to remind us how important lost people are to him.

 

The first is about a man who went looking for a lost sheep, just one of the hundred that had been entrusted to his care but that one was very important to him.  And how he left the 99 found sheep to find the one lost sheep.

 

Pastor Deborah preached on that parable back in July.

 

Then Jesus told the story of the woman who had ten silver coins and how she lost one and then how she frantically looked for the one.

 

And the last story was the story of the Prodigal Son, where a man had lost one of his two sons.

 

The sheep was lost through its own carelessness, the coin was lost through the woman’s carelessness.  And the son was lost through his own decision, but they were all lost, and they all needed someone to help them be found.

 

And if lost people are important to Jesus, then they ought to be important to us.

 

Which leads us back to our scripture, Romans 10:13  For “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” And of course, the service leads to the terms and conditions Romans 10:14-15  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

These are The Terms and Conditions 

If the service is, that whosoever will can be saved, then the rules are that someone has to tell people about Jesus if they are going to hear about Jesus.

And that is called Evangelism.  Evangel simply means good news, so Evangelism at its simplest is sharing the good news of Jesus and his grace.   Someone once defined evangelism as one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

Even when we hear stories from Muslim countries about Jesus appearing in the dreams of people, there still is a person involved who leads them from their dreams to reality.

One of the outcomes of the Maximizing Impact weekend for me is that it brought back into focus what it is that Cornerstone is supposed to be doing.

24 years ago, I wrote the mission statement for Cornerstone and it says: “Cornerstone Wesleyan Church exists to reach pre-Christians through dynamic worship and relevant preaching, bringing them to a life expanding relationship with Jesus Christ and guiding them into a practical holiness as evidenced through the fruit of the Spirit.”

Or simplified: Cornerstone exists to reach Pre-Christians

Or the simplest of all:  We are here to help depopulate hell.

The reality of these terms and conditions are why we do what we do.  And why there are some things that we don’t do.

It is the Reason We Exist

When I planted Cornerstone 24 years ago, when met with people to share the vision, I always came back to the reason that Cornerstone would exist.  We would exist to reach people who need Jesus. We defined them as the pre-churched, the de-churched and the un-churched.   Or simply, we wanted to reach people for whom the church wasn’t a regular part of their lives.

That didn’t mean that believers weren’t welcome at Cornerstone, but it did mean that our primary focus would be those who were pre-churched, de-churched and un-churched.

Along with the mission statement, we also developed 7 core values defining who we would be.  And those are both available at Cornerstonehfx.ca, just click about us and values.

Our first Core Value says:  1)  Cornerstone Wesleyan Church is committed to the reaching of pre-Christians through relational evangelism. Evangelism is and will remain a priority.

What does that mean?  It means that our primary strategy for evangelism is . . . you.  That you will tell people who you know and love and who need Jesus about Jesus and about Cornerstone.  That you will invite them to experience what it is that you have experienced.

Not only is reaching people why we exist, But It Is also The Reason Why We Do What We Do, It is the reason Why our Services Look the way they look

While we were pastoring in Australia, I attended a week-long conference on creating a church for the unchurched, that led me to read the book “Inside the mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary” by Lee Strobel.  And I began to dream of a church where Jesus followers could invite their friends to meet Jesus.  Which is why the second of our core values says,    2) Cornerstone Wesleyan Church is committed to providing a service which incorporates dynamic worship through the use of contemporary music and relevant preaching.

The idea was to present the gospel in an appealing way, in a service that people enjoyed and with a message that people understood and was relevant to their lives.   And we felt that we could do that in one hour.  And not just say one hour, it would be one hour.  That it would respect people’s time, that it would begin on time and that it would provide a message of hope for their lives, using words that they would understand and that it would provide music that they would enjoy.

We don’t want to compromise the message or dumb the message down, we simply want to present it in a way that people will understand and enjoy it.

And if you are wondering why they need to enjoy it I will speak slowly, “If they don’t enjoy it they won’t come back and if they don’t come back they may never meet Jesus.”

And understand that this isn’t the only way to do what we are doing.  It’s just our way.  There are all kinds of churches who are committed to reaching the lost that do it differently than us, and in no way am I trying to say that what they are doing is wrong.

When we were in the initial stage of starting this church, I drove thousands of km around the Maritimes sharing the vision for what would become Cornerstone and inviting people to join the vision and help us with our initial support.

And some pushed back because they felt that by saying “this is what we feel that we are supposed to do to win the lost, it’s what everybody should do.”

Not at all, people are coming to know Jesus all over our city in all kinds of diverse churches, and that’s because different things will reach different folks.  But churches need to keep in mind, that lost people mattered to Jesus and they should matter to those who follow him.

I love the story I heard years ago, someone once told D. L. Moody they didn’t like his method of evangelism.  And Moody responded by asking, “Oh? And how do you evangelize?” To which his detractors responded, “I don’t.” Moody simply answered, “I guess I like my way better.”

And It is the reason Our Building Looks the Way it Looks and Why It’s Open So Much

When the time came for us to have a permanent home, we wanted it to be strategic.  If we were going to invest a major portion of our finances in a building, we wanted it to be a wise investment.

Sometimes people will comment that our Church doesn’t look like a church.  That wasn’t an accident.  I’ve lived in Kingswood for over 20 years and when we were dreaming about the church that would sit at the entrance to our community, we wanted it to fit in with Kingswood and not be a jarring contrast to how Kingswood looks.

And really, the only people who grumble about Cornerstone not looking like the church they grew up in are people who already go to church that looks like the church they grew up in.

There are all kinds of things that stand in the way of people coming to church, we were committed to how our building looked not being one of them.  If every time someone drove by the building, they grumbled about how it looked and how it just didn’t fit in with the community, that would be a hindrance to them eventually attending a service here.

We designed our church home so it would feel like home and so it would feel welcoming and be a place you’d be pleased to invite your friends to.

And we were committed to opening it up to the community as much as we could.

So, when someone comes to a service, that it doesn’t feel awkward or strange.  That they’ve already been here to give blood, or to vote, or pick up their kid’s ball uniforms 

And agreeing to the terms and conditions is The reason we Give Where we Give

I mentioned a couple of our core values earlier, number 3 says this 3)  Cornerstone Wesleyan Church is committed to reaching the lost and will make tithing our general offering to world and home missions a priority.

From day one we said that we can’t do this ourselves, not globally and not locally and so we decided that we would give 10% of what came in to those who were doing it where we can’t do it.

And one of the first things we did as a church was to make a commitment to support Cora Gorman who was going as a missionary to Indonesia.  We couldn’t go to Indonesia, but we could help Cora go.

And it’s why we now help Carl and Maya reach lost people in Haiti, and why we help Robin White reach lost people in Japan, and why we support a little church in Slave Lake Alberta who minister to First Nation Kids.  It’s why we support Hope House, getting teen girls off the street in Odesa Ukraine.  It’s why we partner with World Hope to drill wells in sub-Saharan Africa.

Locally it’s why we support Open Doors in their effort to battle human trafficking in Halifax, and why we support Souls Harbour who help feed the disadvantaged on the peninsula and why we collect soup and milk for Feed Nova Scotia.

And it’s not just to help feed people and provide them with clean water, whenever we can we partner with people who will also tell people about Jesus.

We can’t tell everyone, but we want to help tell as many as we can.

And part of that is the realization that the most important people are those who haven’t come yet.  And that can be a bit disconcerting for some.  It’s not about me.

Early in my ministry, I discovered that evangelism, telling people the good news, was kind of like the weather.  People talked about it but didn’t do anything about it.  And while there isn’t much we can do about the weather we can all do something about evangelism.

People have commented about the Maximizing Impact Weekend and have said they don’t know if they would have done it, or commented on the fact that it must have been tough.  It was, but the staff is committed to reaching the Pre-churched, the de-churched and the Un-churched and if the recommendations in the MI report help us to do that better and help us to fulfil our mission, then it was a great weekend and a great experience.

Because if we go back to the terms and conditions, they say Romans 10:14-15  But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them?  And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

And when I get to heaven, I want Jesus to say, “Nice feet”.