“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”—II Corinthians 5:17
The pastoral notes in January are going to be particularly pastoral, as we revisit our vision as a church and renew our commitment to be the people God has called us to be. Toward that end, I want to take a quick look at our year together and celebrate just a few of the ways God has worked in our midst.
If I were to sum up this church year with a single word, it would be growth. For sake of space, let me identify just two ways God has brought growth to our community this year:
First, we have grown in numbers. Though we have certainly seen transitions from our congregation, we have seen a far greater number drawn into our fellowship. As a case in point, we had 275+ in worship last week (and we were down with holiday travel), but that number is roughly 50 more than what we were averaging this time last year. We rejoice in the expanding witness that God has given us this year!
Second, we have grown in maturity. Though harder to measure, the Bible does provide spiritual health indicators to help us spot where God is at work in our midst. Three spiritual indicators I see right now:
- Desired Closeness with God: More people have come to me in the last year to confess their desire to grow closer in their walk with God than in the previous year and a half. There’s not a confession I love more than that! Thankfully, it didn’t stop with desire but was translated into committed faithfulness to the spiritual disciplines and service to Christ. As your pastor, I could not be more excited about this growth!
- Turning from Sin: Desire for closeness with God will inevitably drag out a closet full of skeletons. Though never without pain, the refreshing honesty of lives lived in truth has done much to mature us. Broken marriages restored, addictions being broken, bitter hearts giving forgiveness, gossiping tongues extending love, stingy hands becoming generous – these are just a few of the ways God has been moving. We’ve only begun, but let’s thank God for the powerful evidences of grace in our midst.
- Deeper Embrace of the Gospel: Both of the above growth points lead to one reality—the gospel. We are beholding the glory of Christ in the gospel and are experiencing His power in fresh and transformative ways. O brothers and sisters, everything pales in comparison (2 Corinthians 4:1-6; Eph.1:11-14). Let us give our lives to this!
To this end, let me briefly note one area where opportunity for growth is needed in 2013. After our particularization in November 2011, followed by the purchase of the chapel in March 2012, we saw a stronger sense of corporate identity and stability spread throughout our fellowship. This identity and stability wasn’t merely nickels and noses, or bricks and mortar, as much as a settled sense of place and mission. It is this sense of place and mission that we’re asking God to direct in the year to come by bringing increased clarity to our sense of call as a church, conviction to believe God’s promises from the Word, and courage to live for God’s mission in the world.
I ask you—plead with you—to join the leadership of Cornerstone in January as we explore in worship the passion and pattern of the ministry of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church for 2013.