Pastor’s Corner – A Theology of Place

Dear Friends,

On the second Tuesday of each month, the deacons and elders gather together for prayer, fellowship and a joint-officer meeting to discuss the business of the church. I have the great privilege to lead a devotion during this time. I wanted to share with you some of the things that I shared with the elders and deacons this past Tuesday. Many of these thoughts were gleaned from an article by Pastor Bob Thune called How to Cast Vision for a Church Building. Years ago, his church was seeking the Lord to raise money for a new facility for their church. I appreciated many of his thoughts on the process. I called the devotion I shared with the officers, A Theology of Place.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.  (Acts 2:42–47 ESV)

This passage has been at the core of our vision and values since the very beginning of Cornerstone. I’m so thankful for the guiding truths of this passage that drives our ministry here. There is a phrase in this passage that I’m not sure I’ve paid close enough attention to. It is the phrase in verse 46 that states, “And day by day, attending the temple together.” 

What I want us to see from this phrase is that there was a place, a building, that served as the ministry center for this young church to learn about the Lord through the Apostles’ teaching. It was a place they gathered for fellowship. It was a place they broke bread and prayed together. It was a place they served the poor and helped those in need. This concept helps us have a theology of place. Let me share some thoughts with you on this:

1. Buildings are important. Yes, we affirm the church is a people, not a building. However, we need to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of gnosticism and begin to believe that all that really matters is the spiritual and not the physical or the material. The reason we need to be careful is because God cares about both! He made us both body and spirit. He made everything both physical and spiritual (the unseen). The building that we desire to build in downtown Huntsville matters to God. He desires that His people be present, physically, in this world to do His will. The new building that we hope to build will be a ministry center for us and for the generations to come. It will be a place were we can fulfill our mission to be a community of Christ’s followers who worship, grow, and serve together to glorify God in Huntsville and throughout the world. Let me ask you, What types of ministry do you envision we will do in this new location downtown? What are you excited about? 
2. Buildings can be transcendent. I can’t help but think when the early church went to the temple, they knew they were going to a different place. A place that wasn’t their family home. It wasn’t their place of worship. It wasn’t where they enjoyed recreation. The temple was a place that reminded them of worship, of sacrifice, of transcendence – something bigger than themselves. We are praying that the Lord will lead us to build a church – a building that looks like a church. Not a cathedral but not a warehouse either. A place that speaks of transcendence and worship. That is what we are striving for in a new building.
3. Buildings are for mission. I think we are all prepared by now that in the new year, we are planning to have a capital campaign as we seek the Lord asking Him to provide resources to build a building. To be clear, this effort is not because we “need” money. It is actually not about money. It is about mission. We want to build a building on our property downtown so that we can fulfill our mission to worship God, to grow as disciples, and serve the downtown community. Additionally, Cornerstone has always desired to have a location that is central, visible, and accessible to our congregation and those whom the Lord will bring to our church family in the future. 
4. Home. This is the word that has been in my mind for sometime. We want and need a church home. A place that we can be settled for years to come and for generations after us. And though we desire to be settled, that does not mean we will be satisfied. We want to keep growing and striving to reach our community. A few other thoughts. As we look toward the future, there are a few things I want us to keep in mind. The first is, we want to plan for growth, not presume growth. Right now we are in a wonderful season of growth – the Lord is bringing new people to Cornerstone every week (and new babies are on the way)! However, we don’t anticipate building a building with unlimited capacity for growth. It will be limited – we only have so much space on which to build. But do not worry! We have very capable people helping us to plan for growth in our ministry and our discipleship needs.

However, that leads me to the second thing about which we need to be praying and seeking the Lord’s wisdom and that is Church Planting! I believe that Cornerstone will be in a prime position to plant church in the Huntsville metro area in years to come. As you already know, we are the fastest growing city in Alabama and on track to be the largest city in the state (if we are not already). The Rocket City Revival is happening! How can the Lord use us to reach more people with more local churches in more areas of our great city? 

These are all matters for prayer. Let us seek the Lord as we plan and prepare for the exciting times that are ahead of us! 

See you Sunday.

by His grace and to His praise, 

Preparation for Worship – November 17, 2019
This Sunday’s sermon: The Preeminence of Christ: How To Be Salt and Light – Col. 4:2-6
In preparation for the sermon: “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house.In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”  (Matthew 5:13–16 ESV)
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