Summary: Jesus reminds us that God loves lost people so we should too
God Loves Lost People
If you’ve been around Cornerstone long enough you have probably heard our mission statement or perhaps you’ve read it on our website. Late in the last century when Angela and I were dreaming about what this church would look like we were told that an important part of that process was to develop a mission statement and so we did. 16 years ago when people asked us what we were about we could tell them with conviction “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.” And sometimes when we would parrot off our mission statement we would have other Christians question it. “Why do you call them Pre-Christians? You’re just being mushy, it should be the lost or sinners” or “Why don’t you talk about them getting saved? What’s with the Life expanding relationship stuff?” “You’re just pandering to them with your relevant messages and dynamic worship; we didn’t come to entertain the world”
So early on we learned to defend our vision, we refer to folks as pre-Christians because we believe that we are going to reach people who aren’t Christ followers now but that they will become Christ followers, thus they are not non-Christians they are simply pre-Christians. We talk about Life Expanding because we believe that when you come into that relationship with Christ it not only gives you the promise of eternal life in heaven when you die but it gives you a better life, an abundant life, a changed life, an expanded life here on earth.
And the relevant preaching and dynamic worship is just part of the plan, if we expect folks to connect with Cornerstone then we are going to have to take the first step. That when they hear the messages they don’t leave saying “So what?” Instead the messages will be relevant to where they are in their lives right now and they can apply it to their lives where they are today. And dynamic worship, why not? People ought to enjoy church. Most of us don’t listen to 500 year old music played on an organ the other six days of the week so why would we do it on Sunday?
And that dream started during my time in Australia, I read a book by Robert Kriegel called “If It Ain’t Broke Break it” it is primarily a business book challenging people to think outside the box. Then I picked up a book by George Barna called “User Friendly Churches” that highlighted a number of new churches that were making a major difference in how they did “Church” And then it all came together in a week long seminar I attended in Brisbane in the winter of 1992, it was actually summer in Brisbane, but that just gets confusing. Bill Hybels and a team from Willow Creek Community Church spent a week presenting a conference entitled “Building a Church for the Unchurched”, during the conference he referenced a book written by Lee Storbels called “Inside the mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary” and I was smitten. To have a church that was intentional in their purpose, intriguing.
For the first ten years of my ministry the thought had been “If they are serious about getting saved they’ll come to church the way we’ve always done church.” They’ll sing our songs, they will learn our language and they will adopt our customs and in the end if they stick with it long enough they will meet our God.
But what if we sang music that at least the style was familiar to those outside the church? What if we made sure that we didn’t use words that unchurched people were unfamiliar with? What if we used videos of things they were familiar with? What if we took the time to explain things like communion? And that was the dream that this church was based on, that we would endeavour to reach the pre-churched, the de-churched and the un-churched.
After all we are told in 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. And that thought is reiterated in Romans 5:8 But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. So if God loved pre-Christians enough to give his Son and Jesus loved pre-Christians enough to give his life I would think that we should be willing to give up our traditions and preferences for them if that’s what it takes.
And so 16 years later our mission remains the same, although sometimes we shorten it down to say “Cornerstone exists to reach pre-Christians” or most times I will simply say “Cornerstone is here to help depopulate hell.” And I believe that, I believe that there are people today in our church and in our community who will go to heaven because of who we are and what we do and that wouldn’t have been the case if there had been no Cornerstone.