As we enter the start of our second month of social distancing, the desire to be together again only intensifies. Fellowship over Zoom has been a surprising gift and very sweet to soul, but it is definitely no replacement for actually being in one another’s physical presence. We’ve mentioned several times, over this past month, that our primary responsibility as Pastors has been to make sure the needs within our church family are taken care of. We have prioritized the household of faith and will continue to do so even as the ripple effects of COVID-19 in people’s lives extend beyond the “stay at home” order given by our government.
However, though we have focused our attention first on those within the household of faith, that does not mean that our concerns can and will remain there only. Brothers and sisters, the mission of Cornerstone Church does and will remain the same. We exist to display the greatness of Jesus Christ in the everyday lives of His people. Our circumstances may have changed, but our commitment to remain faithful to the mission God has given us as a church has not!
It’s in times like this where we have to hold onto the precious truths God has given us. His providence has placed you in this exact moment in history and in the exact location you reside in so that His nearness would be felt by others through you (Acts 17:26-27). We are God’s primary means of loving those whom he has surrounded us with. When the church has been scattered, whether by persecution or various forms of suffering, the by-product has always been Kingdom growth. It grew because God’s people knew that the message they had been given was not to be confined to a physical location, but rather wherever their feet took them. As disciples of Jesus Christ, they would use everything He had given them to make Him known.
We as Christians, are ambassadors of Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:20). We have been enlisted to serve Him and others through expressing His love in tangible ways, sharing the hope we have to those who are hopeless, and praying for souls to be saved. Family, even in times like these, Peter’s words in 2 Peter 1:3 still ring true that we have everything we need to be faithful. You have His Spirit living inside you (Gal 4:6) and you have His word, so we all have enough. It’s time to tap into what God has been depositing in us since the day we were introduced to our Lord.
So, where are we going as a Church?
We desire to use our Connection Groups as a missional force!
Over the last few years, our connection groups have primarily existed as a connecting point for members to grow in the gospel and as family. This has served many who have participated in them well, and we are truly grateful for them. However, we believe that our times together can be so much more and we are prayerfully asking the Lord to take them another step further.
Our hope is that as you gather together weekly, that you would devote a portion of the time discussing what it looks like to establish a relational presence in the lives of your neighbors. By neighbor, I’m referring to anyone in close proximity to you, individually, whom you are unsure of where they stand with the Lord. This might be your immediate neighbors, co-workers, family members, etc. I think we all would agree that love isn’t love unless it makes the person extending it vulnerable.
Real Christlike love is willing to move beyond the periphery of love being a theoretical truth and bring itself into the present reality of people’s lives. It is willing to find any way possible to draw near to those in need, even if it requires sacrifice on it’s own part. Is this not what our Savior did for us by leaving his heavenly dwelling and entering into time and space to become Emmanuel, “God with us”? He demonstrated His love for us so that we would no longer be held captive to mystery (Rom 5:8).
We can use this time to start new relationships or cultivate established ones so that if tragedy hits hard, our neighbors are within arms reach (figuratively speaking) of a person who can point them to a God who can supply all their needs. This isn’t the time for pride! If this intimidates you and brings you anxiety, welcome to the club. We all are there or have been there, which is why we need each other. Vulnerability and transparency will be the only way we can truly grow as disciples. We are all in this together!
After you spend time discussing, confessing, and strategizing, spend some time together praying. Though we may be hindered in various ways, our prayers are not! Pray for an open door for the Gospel (Col 4:2-5)! Prayer is not simply what we do when inactivity is our only recourse. Prayer is what undergirds and prepares the way for activity that is meaning. What you sow in prayer now could be what God uses to reap a harvest of new followers three months from now. Let’s make it a weekly goal to pray for people we know by name and actually expect for God to move. There is power in your prayers!
- Attached is a greeting/get to know you flyer that you can put on people’s doors or on their mailbox (sidenote – it is illegal to open someone’s mailbox and place stuff inside of it). Feel free to print this out and pass them around. Keep in mind that you can’t help everyone, so assess your availability and what you can actually do with the answers you receive back. Start with 3 people max at a time. Give it a few days and if you don’t hear anything back, then pass out a couple more. The last thing we want to do is over-promise and under-deliver.
In the event you receive a phone call, here are some good questions to ask after you introduce yourself if you haven’t done so already.
- How has life changed for you in this past month?
- Have you been able to be in touch with family or friends on a regular basis?
- What are some ways I can be praying for you?
- Would you mind if I checked in on you periodically to see how you are doing?
- Purchase some greeting cards. Sometimes, we assume that everyone has some form of community that they can lean on in times like this, but that far too often is not the case. One way you can love on someone from afar is to write them an encouraging note on a regular basis. It could just be something that encouraged you in your time with the Lord, a quote you came across, a thoughtful statement. Attach your phone number to it so in case they want to chat, they can reach out. Even if they don’t return the call, keep doing it. Some people just want to see if you are really sincere about your concern. Again, you are sowing relational seeds.
- We will have face masks available for members and non-members at no charge. Our dear sister Melody Gardner and a few others have been so gracious to sew about 300 face masks. If you are a member and need some or would love to pass some out to your neighbors who don’t have access to them, we will have them available towards the end of April. More details regarding how to pick them up will be communicated once I have them in my possession.
- Cook a little more than you normally would for dinner. As you start to engage folks, especially those in low income areas, sharing a meal is a great way to love on others.
A FEW UPDATES
- At this time, we have been getting updates from Brown Middle School on any needs they have as well as from the families of our Rites of Passage program. As these needs are brought to our attention, we will commit to letting the body know through the website and our other platforms.
- We as a missions leadership team plan to reach out to all the contacts we received from the fall festival.
If you have any suggestions or questions for us, please don’t hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Lauren, our missions deacon, at email@example.com. One of us will be sure to get in contact with you as soon as possible.