Summary: This message was preached at our 20th Anniversary and reflects on the birth of the Corinthian Church and Cornerstone
A Church Birthed in Generosity
I’ve always been intrigued with the Corinthian Church. A church with problems, you don’t have to read very far through the letters addressed to the church to discover that they struggled with “issues”. Theological issues, moral issues, behavioural issues. But in my experience that is the reality of the church. I mean as long as the church is made up of people. In my 33 years in the ministry, the three churches that I have served as lead pastor have all experienced theological issues, moral issues and behavioural issues to one degree or another. The perfect church will never exist as long as it’s made up of imperfect people.
But for all of their struggles listen to how Paul addresses them in his first letter: 1 Corinthians 1:2-3 I am writing to God’s church in Corinth, to you who have been called by God to be his own holy people. He made you holy by means of Christ Jesus, just as he did for all people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.
But what has intrigued me more than anything about the church in Corinth was their generosity. Listen what Paul wrote to this group. In 2 Corinthians 8:10 Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. That’s pretty impressive. They were the first who wanted to give, but not only did they want to give they were the first to begin doing it.
So here we are, on the Sunday that celebrates twenty years of worshipping together as a church. That means that for 1040 Sundays, actually 1039, because we had to cancel church on November 7th 2004, there have been folks who have gathered together under the banner of either Bedford Community Church or Cornerstone Wesleyan Church to worship and serve Jesus Christ.
But along with that this is our first week of Stewardship Emphasis month, or as it is now commonly known at Cornerstone “Money Month”.
For those who are new to Cornerstone or are a guest today a little background.
Thirteen years ago we started dealing with the topic of money differently than we did for the first seven years we existed. For the first seven we treated money the way most churches do. We prepared a budget each year, which actually is probably more responsible than a lot of churches, but the budget really wasn’t based on reality. It was more of a wish list than a budget.
And then I would preach on money whenever money became an issue. Which unfortunately probably came across as scolding or begging. In 2002 the leadership team decided that wasn’t working and so we moved in a different direction. Each year in the month of April I focus on the theology of giving at Cornerstone and so in April, I preach on money, how we make it and how we use it. And then at the end of April we ask those who make Cornerstone their church home to make a commitment of what they intend to give weekly for the next 12 months and that is what we base our budget on. In a very real sense the people of Cornerstone determine what type of church they would like to have.
As many of you know the preaching schedule at Cornerstone is in the planning stages months before we actually get to preach a particular message. So now we are planning for our summer series, I’ve been at least thinking about Christmas and have scrawled down thoughts for next Good Friday and Easter Sunday. We don’t always nail it the way we planned but at least we are thinking about it. So back in the fall it dawned on me that I would have to combine Money Month with Easter Sunday and our Anniversary Service this year.
Now my first thought was that I would have to reduce Money Month to two weeks, and while that may have made some of you happy I realized that it really didn’t serve the purpose that we had put in place 13 years ago, sorry.
So last Sunday I preached on “A Generous Easter” and it was as I pondered where I would go on our 20th birthday that I realized that Cornerstone is a generous church that was birthed out of the generosity of other churches and that we aren’t alone in that. Every church that exists and has ever existed was once a brand new church.
The Beginning of the Church Last summer, summer is a season when there is no snow on the ground the rivers and lakes are liquid and children frolic on green grass, just in case you were wondering. Last summer the staff preached a series called “Down the Road” and we followed the journey of Paul from his conversion to his death. And you will recall that Paul was one of the Jewish religious elite who persecuted the church before he met Jesus. And in the early days of his ministry his target audience were those who shared his Jewish faith. Those were the ones he had the most in common with. But then something happened.