For the first time in our church’s history we are canceling all of our normal Sunday morning activities. We are turning off the lights. We are locking the doors. Cornerstone Church at Upper River Rd. and Southland Dr. will be a ghost town from 10:30 to 12:30 tomorrow morning. We are not going to church tomorrow; we are going to practice being the church. We are going to forget about ourselves for a while and go out and see what others need.
Tomorrow we are partnering with the Fuller Center for Housing by working on two Fuller Center projects here in Americus from 9-12. We are putting our faith in action to serve two families who have home repair needs. One home belongs to a single mom with three kids and we will be painting the outside of the house. The second home is owned by an older couple. They are both on disability. We will be hanging vinyl siding.
So why cancel the normal worship service to work on somebody’s house?
As a church, we are recovering from hypocrisy. We have admitted that we have been much better at hearing the word of Jesus than being doers of the word his words. Jesus made it clear that loving our neighbors means helping those in need. Both of these families have needs that we can meet in a real tangible way. We can do more than pat them on the back and say “God bless you, good luck!” We are happy that the Fuller Center is helping us get connecting with people in our town who have real needs. Serving them is a way of bringing forth fruits of repentance.
Yeah, but why not work on a Saturday and go to church on Sunday?
We could and I hope that this Sunday morning work day will turn into future Saturdays where we can serve our neighbors. Working on Sunday is a way of communicating the message: loving our neighbor is important. It will serve as a living sermon that we preach together with hammers and paintbrushes.
Isn’t Sunday a day of rest? Aren’t you breaking God’s law by working on the Sabbath day?
The Sabbath was made for man; man was not made for the Sabbath, at least that is what Jesus said. Once Jesus was healing a man on the Jewish Sabbath day (Saturday) and some of the religious establishment called him out, called Jesus a sinner, because he didn’t follow the religious rules of the day. Jesus made is simple: is it right to do good on the Sabbath or not? They got the message. The greatest command is to love God and love people; to serve God and serve people, even if it goes against cultural standards. I have reminded our church to take some Sabbath rest on Saturday and to take some time with their families.
What about the Scripture? Is there no proclamation of God’s word if you are canceling your activities?
We are working from 9-12 and then gather in the backyard of one of the homes for a time of celebration. We will celebrate with song, giving (receiving an offering), and Scripture reading. Our work complements our trust (and belief) in and proclamation of the Scripture. These go together. The Protestant Church has made a error in bifurcating doctrinal soundness from social justice. We have labeled one “conservative” and one “liberal” and too often theological “conservatives” have neglected social justice and theological “liberals” have neglected historic, orthodox doctrine. We need to drop the labels. If we insist on using them, then we should be conservative in doctrine and liberal in love.
Have you lost your mind? Are you the only church doing this?
We have joined the National Faith in Action guys and hundreds (thousands?) of other churches who are doing similar things. National Faith in Action Sunday was October 11. We are about two weeks late, but we have received a lot of guidance from the FIA guys.
So tomorrow we are not going to church; we are going to practice being the church, planting seeds of the kingdom of God on Hampton Street in Americus.
You may say that I am a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the CHURCH will be as one
Dr. Derek Vreeland is the pastor of Cornerstone Church in Americus, Georgia. A passion for biblical truth and the local church drives his thoughtful, humorous, and authentic teaching style. He and his wife Jenni live in Americus with their three boys Wesley, Taylor, & Dylan.
He is a graduate of Missouri Western State University (B.A. English/Writing), Oral Roberts University (M.Div.), and Asbury Theological Seminary (D.Min). His first book, Shape Shifters, combines his love for the doctrine of the Trinity and spiritual transformation.
Derek was born in Mobile, Alabama and grew up in St. Joseph, Missouri. On March 31, 1990 Jesus came crashing into his life. From this point forward, everything changed. Sensing a call to ministry, he threw himself into the life of the church and Bible study. His passion for biblical truth and the local church continued through high school and into college. After a year of marriage, he began seminary at Oral Roberts University, graduating in 1999.
In September 1999, Derek moved his family to Americus, Georgia where he served as the Youth Pastor at Cornerstone Church until 2004, when he became the Pastor. He completed a doctor of ministry degree from Asbury Theological Seminary in 2007.
Derek fulfills his call to teach and lead within a healthy and vibrant church in rural South Georgia. In addition to writing and local church ministry, he also travels to India, teaching in pastors’ seminars supporting the church planting efforts of the Indian Evangelical Team (IET) founded by P.G. Vargis.
Follow Derek’s blog at www.derekvreeland.wordpress.com