Welcome to Corner Church! Today is our first official Sunday service in Northeast Minneapolis. And today is our 843rd official service in Corner Church history.
In January of 2006, Corner Church started with some focused callings: Follow Jesus. Focus on Scripture. Value everyone's story. Build real relationships. Seek spiritual reality. Encourage everyone to take personal ownership of faith, church, and community. See that we are better together. And do this again and again so that people can have an opportunity to walk to church.
While we are a church community that meets in coffeehouses, we are not just simply a coffeehouse church. Our focus is our communities–not just valuing our communities, but being valued in our communities. It is nice to care about your neighbor. But a measure of that niceness is not your personal affection, but how much your neighbor appreciates your niceness. Our goal as a church is to live that out and to be valued in our communities.
And not just once. Anyone can do it once. But our goal is that we would be a community who is committed to living this process out over time. That it would be part of our makeup, that it’s a foundation of who we are.
But the path to that being valued is not just an organizational thing. Not simply done by an entity, system and/or organization.. It is us. We are the church. In all of our diversity and differences; in all of our strengths and weaknesses, successes and failings; in all of our understanding and our confusion–we are the church.
I love how Paul puts it in Ephesians 2. He is talking about how having relationship with God is not received by doing enough or being good enough, but it is through grace, and that grace comes through Jesus.
But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:4-5)
But that grace does not equal an absence of transformation or absence of purpose. That grace is a wide open door to action!
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
We are God’s handiwork. We have been created to do good works, be valued in community. God has been planning this for all eternity.
For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. (Romans 8:19)
My faith says that Jesus has been waiting for today, for this season, for this time forever. Not the forever like when I say, “I haven’t seen you in forever” or “I haven’t eaten in forever.” That forever is not forever.
But my faith says–as Paul’s words in Ephesians and Romans say–God has been waiting for this moment for us to be the church in our communities forever. He has been eagerly awaiting–forever. He has designed us and prepared us for this time. And now we are able to live and walk out being the church in our communities.
As we start in Northeast Minneapolis and as we are 843 weeks deep in as a church, we are going to be spending the next weeks diving deep into who we are as a church. And as I say that, the we is the key to church.
One thing that we do as a church is push the conversation back to the table. We talk in church. We will be talking more about why we talk in church in the weeks to come. But for now, talking with each other connects us with each other and connects us to what we are talking about. Here is a question for you:
What makes someone good at getting to know people?
Let me add to this question. As you have been discussing this, you have been building your responses on a complex foundation. That foundation is the idea that someone can be known. This opens up another question that I will give you a little extra time on.
When does someone go from not being known to being known? How do you know?
Today, as we plant Corner Church Northeast, we are looking at the question: Why do we plant churches?
This is not just something we are doing today. This is part of the mission of Corner Church–a Corner Church within walking distance of people in our city.
Over the past few months we were walking through the book of Acts and the simple answer to the why we plant is to live out the calling Jesus gave in Acts 1:8.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
As we talked through Acts, we saw the messy living out of this commissioning. And in the midst of the mess of the mess the theme continued:
But the word of God continued to spread and flourish. (Acts 12:24)
So while the “simple” answer as to why we plant can be summed up in the commission.
My hope today is for us to process that deeper. The tool that we are going to use to help that processing deeper is dinner.
Dinner has many forms, some good, some not so good. As a pastoral team, we went deep down the spiral of the parable of dinner as to why we plant. Before I open up some of those observations, let me ask you a question that invites you to the process:
Why can dinner together with friends and/or family be great for building deeper relationships? Why isn’t one dinner enough?
Dinner is loaded with potential. It can be a moment where life slows down and we listen and share and laugh. We might try new things and meet each other's needs. It’s a moment where we bond, where we are together. The relational potential of dinner off the charts.
And as we think about the early church, relational moments happened around meals constantly, and the potential for connection was there at every table full of food.
But one thing we all know is that potential doesn’t always equal results.
What are some of the things that can derail the relational potential of “dinner”?
Family dinner can be a great time together. It can also be a point where the kids are fighting. Or I’m angry about something and being short. Or everyone is distracted with technology. Or we’re running to and from things and don’t have time to sit and talk in depth about the day.
While many things can derail dinner, here are some observations that we as a pastoral team had about dinner that will lead into our conversation today: Intentionality is a common ingredient in a relationally rich dinner. If you look around a restaurant while eating dinner, there is very little (if any) relational potential with the other patrons. While the relational potential is not hurt by great food, it is not essential. And while one dinner has the potential of being meaningful, the value greatly increases with repetition and regularity. We will revisit these in a moment as they draw some picture as to why we plant churches.
Paul was a religious leader at the time of Jesus. But he was not connected to Jesus. In fact, he was opposed to Jesus’ followers and was involved in orchestrating their elimination. He had a miraculous Jesus encounter on the side of the road (read more about it in Acts 9). From that point, life was not perfect and neither was Paul, but we see his living out Jesus’ commissioning and calling.
And as he went from place to place telling people about Jesus, and as he lived out the last days of his life in house arrest because of his living out the commissioning and calling, Paul often used the illustration of the body. The most extensive rendition of him using this illustration is in 1 Corinthians 12:
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.
Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. (1 Corinthians 12:12-31)
Paul saw something as he observed the body. No part of the body is unneeded. If it is not functioning or is missing, the whole body suffers. No part of the body is most important. If the body was made up of multiple of the same parts, it would not function. The body’s diversity of parts is its strength.
We have room to grow in diversity of who is present on any given organized event day. But we are a community that has quite a bit of diversity of thought. Lots of divergence.
What are some of the assets and strengths found in a diverse church community? (Body of Christ)
What are some of the challenges and risks found in a diverse church community? (Body of Christ)
Now we bring this all together, and we will conclude with a moment of conversation to allow you to process this together. Let’s bring back the question of why we plant with the pictures of dinner and the Body of Christ.
Intentionality is a common ingredient in a relationally rich dinner. Relationship, community, connection, church, the Body of Christ–they rarely happen without intentionality. The ideas of relationship that builds one another, community that is living in synergy sharpening and caring for and helping and building into each other–these things rarely happen randomly.
A random collection of body parts does not make a body. Intentionality is an essential ingredient.
If you look around a restaurant while eating dinner, there is very little (if any) relational potential with the other patrons. Relationship, community, connection, church, the Body of Christ–they rarely happen by just being in simple proximity. The ideas of relationship that builds one another, community that is living in synergy sharpening and caring for and helping and building into each other–these things rarely happen just because you are next to someone.
A large, larger, largest collection of body parts does not make a body. Intentional deeper connection is an essential ingredient.
While the relational potential is not hurt by great food, it is not essential. Relationship, community, connection, church, the Body of Christ–they rarely happen when the primary focus is simply on the same thing. The ideas of relationship that builds one another, community that is living in synergy sharpening and caring for and helping and building into each other–these things come out of focus on and connection with each other, not just focus on the same thing(s).
Intentional deeper connection with each other is an essential ingredient.
While one dinner has the potential of being meaningful, the value greatly increases with repetition and regularity. Relationship, community, connection, church, the Body of Christ–they rarely happen because of being together once. The ideas of relationship that builds one another, community that is living in synergy sharpening and caring for and helping and building into each other–these things call for relationship over time.
Intentional deeper connection with each other done over and over again is an essential ingredient.
Why do we plant? To embody this intentional deeper connection with each other done over and over again over time.
Instead of a bunch of “restaurant” moments, we want Corner Church to be full of intentional “family dinner” moments. And it’s not chosen for you but it’s something you choose. We get to be part of setting the table and inviting people to join us at it. We encourage you to be at the table and to be an inviter. And that doesn’t mean the table is just Sunday mornings or any other “church” moment. The table is faith, following Jesus, community moments and more.
What does it mean for you to be an important ingredient to intentional, deep, connection with others done over and over again?
What are the challenges and rewards of living this out?
Take It Deeper Questions:
- Read 1 Corinthians 12:12-31.
- Where do churches come from?
- What are some of the essential ingredients that make a healthy local church?
- What is the purpose of the local church?
- What would the world be like without the local church?
- What is the value of going to church? What is the value of being the church? How are those two things different?
Bible Reading Plan:
- Judges 3
- Judges 4
- Judges 5
- Judges 6