Saturday, April 07, 2007

Behind the Scenes Pictures from Work Day

Here are some of our people making last minute improvements...

Easter Saturday

Many times, we focus on His death, and on His resurrection, and leave out his burial. Today is the day we usually don't remember. In reality, it is a very significant day. In fact it is more like modern day that we often will admit. Jesus was not inactive, He was working behind the scenes. God is again working "behind the scenes" in most of our lives. Although we usually do not look for it, we know that He is always working in our lives. The work of our salvation is not just one event, but the culmination of a series of events that God is orchestrating to draw us unto Himself.

If you are still debating whether Jesus is the Christ, then know that the events in your life are orchestrated by God to illustrate his love for you and reveal his Son to you. If you have accepted Jesus as the Christ, then you must not allow your lack ability to see God actively working in the lives of those around you to cause you to know that He is working. Today, take time to encourage a friend to come closer to God. Join God in His, behind the scenes, work.

Today we are working behind the scenes at Cornerstone. We are doing the final preparations and rehearsals for our three Easter services. I will try to post some pictures later as a sneak peak behind the scenes.


Gabe Dunlap, our worship pastor has a great post here.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Well, well, the intelligent design folks have won. Evolution is finally going out of business. I guess we can stop making fun of Ray Comfort's banana video Steve.

Photo snapped by Nicholas Humphrey in downtown Berkeley.

Another Reason to Drink Coke

From BBC News....

Coke complaint delays Jesus film
An Italian film which features Jesus drinking from a can of Coca-Cola will miss its Easter release date after the drinks giant complained.
Seven Kilometres from Jerusalem tells the story of an advertising executive suffering a mid-life crisis when he meets a man who appears to be Jesus.
In the course of the film, Jesus drinks a can of Coke, and the ad man exclaims: "God, what a great endorsement!"
Coca-Cola said permission to use its trademark had not been granted.
"We don't think it's appropriate to use the subject of this film to create publicity for our brands," it said in a statement.
"We advised the producer of this in writing, and are very disappointed that our request was not respected."
The drinks company asked for the scene to be cut, but the director and producers argued that changing the film would be costly and time consuming.
After a week of legal wrangling, they have now been forced to postpone the Good Friday release date as the film is re-edited.
Producers say it could be up to three weeks before the film hits cinemas.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Great Quote from Seth

Here is a quote from Seth on shopping at Publix.

"...the girl that was bagging proceeds to ask me if she could carry my groceries out to my car... Now I am not sure if she was calling me weak, as like I said she weighed all of 50 pounds, she was in denial (thinking she could carry three times here body weight), or she had supper human power, either way, I told her I got it.... After this of course, she asked me if she could fetch me a buggy, I told here no, my car works just fine and I really don't know how to manage horses."

Now you know why we keep him with the youth.

Easter Excitement

Last night we had an incredible time of praying for our Easter services. This year we will be having three services and two Egg hunts. No doubt that this will be an awesome day full of excitement and opportunities. Bruce broke the day down into 8 separate prayer focuses and we prayed. It is always great to listen to the people pray, but last night revealed the love of our people for guests and people who are coming to Christ. Off in another room Sue had her team laughing and stuffing eggs in preparation for the hunts. I think she has got this thing running like a well oiled machine. They were obviously having too much fun. Down at the end of the hall Gabe and the praise team was working on the music. Let me just tell you that it is going to be awesome. They will be doing a special with the praise team, and then during the offering, Gabe and Amy will be singing "Knees to the Earth" by Pocket full of Rocks. Mark and the crew have big plans for a special set that will blow your mind. That, coupled with the fact that we have handed out 1,000 personal invitations, sets the stage for a great day. Sunday's message will kick off our next series on the 5 love languages, and we have free books for each visiting family. This is going to be an awesome marriage focus during the worship, and for our small groups. All that being said... Do not miss this weekend, do not let anyone you know miss this weekend.

Church Planting In Harmony

Joe Murray, our church planter in Harmony writes...We celebrated our 2 year anniversary on Sunday, March 25th with 103 attending. Our service included testimonies, lasting for better than 1/2 an hour, from those who have been influenced for Christ through our local body. We also participated in Communion and finished out the day with a luncheon. That evening we selected our first group of four deacons. As a 2 year old toddler church, we are full of energy & life! We are up and running, although at times stumbling over our own 2 feet with some bumps and bruises to show for it. We are living out the reality of Matthew 16:18! Here are some pictures of our celebration. Thank you again for your prayer and financial support!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Mass Marketing

This week everyone is being bombarded by churches vying for the Easter crowd to come to their services. We know that Easter is the second most popular day for the non church goer to attend, but what about all the postcards, bandit signs, and newspaper ads. I am not going to come out against such marketing, because I do believe that we should market the church in as many creative and effective ways as possible. However this year, and last, we chose not to do the mailers. Here are some reasons I will throw out for you to consider.

1. Expense - Mailers are expensive and for that reason many churches do not attempt it. Marketing firms will tell you that a prospective consumer needs to see your ad seven times before there is name recognition. It is not enough to send one card; effective strategy requires more of a steady stream of communication. Unfortunately, most churches only do mass marketing one time a year making their return low on the investment. 2. Effectiveness - We have also seen a decrease in the effectiveness of mailers as its "unique" has worn off. In the 80's and 90's almost nobody did mass mailers, now it seems that all churches do them. Unfortunately, they can get lost in the shuffle. 3. Disconnect - It seemed that the people who came as a result of our mailers were disconnected from the church. Yes they attended, but often without really knowing anyone. We do our best to be friendly and to put our guests first. But retention of people who come because a friend invited them is incomparable. 4. Message - (And this is my big one.) Last year we realized that we were not teaching our people to be the church in the community, and invite their friends and neighbors to worship. We, subconsciously, were teaching that outreach was something that was a line item in the Easter budget. We were sending the wrong message to our people as well as our community.

Relationships and personal invitations are the way to go for us. Our people are our best advertisement. As God has worked in their lives, and they are excited about what God is doing, They tell their friends and neighbors and basically anyone who will listen. One of our people told me that she was accused on Monday of "being off preaching again". I love it! Wasn't it Paul who said in 2 Corinthians 3 "You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart."

So we don't spend $3,000-$5,000 on Easter to send out post cards. Some day that may be a good investment for us, but for now, I believe that it is best to consistently give our people personal invitations that they can pass out, not just for Easter and Christmas, but monthly. It sends the right message, it is better for retention, and it frees up much needed resources for other ministries.

Tell me what you think....

Father's Day Rolling Stones Style

Well Dads, we all want our kids to remember us and even to take a little bit of us into the future, but this is just nuts. Keith Richards, lead guitarist with the very handsome group of men known as "The Rolling Stones," admitted to a reporter the other day that me mixed his dad's ashes (yes, his dad was cremated, those ashes) with some cocaine and took it right up the old snout. And you thought there were no more role models for our kids these days. Oh well, this may start a new fad and who knows, Father's Day isn't far off.

Prayerful Preparations for Easter

Tonight we will be having a special time of prayer to prepare our hearts for Easter. In preparation for our prayer meeting we have added the following starter ideas to our prayer list. This is by far not the extent of our prayers, but just breaking the ice.

That we all will be reminded of God’s love expressed in Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.
That people will come to know Christ as personal Savior.
That people will come back into a daily walk with God.
That we all will be reminded of those who still need to come to the cross.
That we all will invite others to come and worship on Easter.
That people who come, will find Cornerstone to be warm and welcoming.
That people who are invited will come.
That all of our services will be balanced for space.
That our ministries will be adequately staffed.
That our church will be able to continue to minister to families beyond Easter.
That the music and the message will effectively glorify God and encourage others.
That God would bring people back to join a small group Bible Study on the Love Languages.
That the praise and worship time will be engaging and exciting.
That the message will be life changing
For the Praise Team, Pastor Gabe & Pastor Joel as they do three services in a row
For the Easter Egg Hunt to run smoothly and the kids to have fun.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Church Planting & The Olive Tree

I found this and thought I would pass it on...
Today you can travel to Greece and visit the site of the home and one of the early hospitals of Hippocrates. He is the inspiration of the modern medical profession.
There you will find the olive tree of Hippocrates, said to date from his time over 2,400 years ago. The wide trunk is almost hollow except for a thin outer shell. There are a few straggly branches supported by wooden props. The ancient olive tree has few leaves and in season produces only one or two olives.
Just over the stone walls that surround the site are olive groves in every direction. In contrast, these young olive trees are strong and healthy, covered in leaves and in season, burdened with olives.
The olive tree of Hippocrates is still an olive tree, yet a long time ago it stopped functioning effectively. Tourists come to honour this ancient link with the past. But the job of producing olives has been passed on to a succession of new olive trees, now covering the surrounding countryside.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Four Corners on Fox News

Polk County Sherriff Grady Judd used a short term rental home in Four Corners to set up a sting operation for online predators. I am thankful that we have a proactive sherriff who will take bold action to protect our families. Although the sting was carried out in Four Corners, none of the 28 who were arrested were local. You can find the story here, here and here.

On Pastor's Wives from Time Magazine

Time Magazine has an article on the difficulties of being a pastor's wife. Something this pastor needs to read, and I would bet, most pastors need to know. I for one know that without my wife, I have no ministry. ...Amy, You rock! Article here.

The Life of a Christ-Follower on American Idol

Chris Sligh has a new comment about being a Christ-Follower on American Idol. One of the interesting things to me about his comment is the part about the local church. God has given us the local church for support and encouragement. This Sunday Chris will be back at his local gathering and is pumped. If you are a Christian and not connected to a local church, I hope Chris' comments will make you jealous and this Easter, you will get plugged into a local church! You can read his comments here.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

CBC Photo

Worship Service Picture

Sunday Synopsis

Today's services were great. I am still in preacher withdraw from not getting to speak today. But Michael brought it. We were all inspired, and I think we all want to go plant a church in Australia tomorrow. There were 156 in attendance between the two services, and our offerings were approximately $3,100.00. I am excited to see how many of our people jump on board and begin supporting missions. One thing that has hit me is that we could be doing so much more for missions and church planting around the world. Being a church plant, is no excuse for waiting until some vague point of growth to really give sacrificially. I have a few goals for our church. 1. raise the number of households who give regularly to 50. Right now we have between 35-40 giving households per week. And...2. That every one of those families gives above their tithe to support missions. I can't wait until we will be able to give birth to a new baby church of our own. I am praying now that God will raise up a couple, and enough missions giving for us to fully fund a new church within two years. Big goals... maybe... but Bigger God... definitely!