Summary: We all want our churches to grow but are we aware of what that will cost and are we willing to pay the price
It’s funny but in church life we often have a few different “Brand New Years”. The first Sunday in January we celebrate the “New Year” with the rest of Canada often with a sermon on forgetting the past and looking ahead to what God has in store for us. At Cornerstone as well as other Wesleyan Churches our fiscal year ends the end of April, as a result “May” is the beginning of a brand new church year and it’s then that we have our much anticipated and highly aclaimed “Money Month”.
But in many ways September is the beginning of the year as well. It is today that the children move up their various levels, from Nursery to Children’s Church, from Children’s Church to Junior Church, from Junior church to Ignite and from Ignite to the worship service. It is in September that we often roll out new curriculum for the children and as we move into the fall the Staff is busy planning the preaching series and small groups. And the planning and work begins for the . . . wait for it. . . Children’s Christmas productions and Christmas Eve Service.
Often times, summer is when you check out a new church if you’ve just moved to the area or if you just feel it’s time for a new church. Reminds me of the story of the man who had been shipwrecked on a deserted Island for years and finally he is spotted by a ship and a rescue party arrives to take him back home. Before they leave he’s showing them around the island that has been his home and they come to a clearing with a beautiful view of the ocean and three grass huts. One of the visitors ask what the huts are and the man replies “The one in the centre is my house and the one on the right is the church I attend.” “Oh “came the reply “what is the other one?” “that” says the man “Is the church I used to attend.”
A pastor friend of mine told me a number of years ago if I believed that God could call a pastor to a different church then I should also acknowledge that God could call lay people to a different church as well. And so there are folks at Cornerstone and at other churches who are starting fresh.
And so in many ways September is the beginning of the church year, or at least one of the beginnings.
It was 18 years ago that we actively began to tell people about our vision for what would eventually become Cornerstone Wesleyan Church and within four months we had a group of six meeting in our living room and the neat thing is that five of us are still here. Can you imagine being in Stan and Karen Wickwire or Ian and Sylvia Richardson’s shoes when I began to cast a vision for a church that only existed in my mind and my heart? And yet here they are all those years later.
And it seemed that everyone I met in that first year I told them about the church that we were starting. But not everyone that we cast that vision to bought into the dream, there were some who were looking for a church that was already up and running with a full slate of programs that we just couldn’t offer and there were still others who just didn’t think there was a lot of potential for a brand new church like we were envisioning. But through the years there have been those who have decided to invest themselves into the dream and help make it a reality.
In the scripture that was read earlier we saw a description of the birth of the church. Not Cornerstone Church but “The church.” And it is a great description. Let’s read it again.
Acts 2:41-47 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all. All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity— all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.
Sometimes you will hear people talk about how we need to be like the New Testament church, and this is the church that they are talking about. But when you stop and think about it, today that doesn’t sound as much like a church as it does a cult. If one of your teenagers came home and told you that they had heard a guy preaching on the street and they had joined his group and they were doing church every day, and they had to sell everything they had to put in a common pot, and they weren’t going to be eating with you anymore that they would be having all their meals with their new friends, you’d be a little concerned. Just saying. It was Vance Havner who said “The church is so subnormal that if it ever got back to the New Testament, normal it would seem to people to be abnormal.”