Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.â€? 1 Peter 2:6
Document: Vision Prospectus Content: Adam Sinnett Church: Downtown Cornerstone. City: Seattle. Lat & Long: 47-37’14’’ N, 122-21’04’’ W
Downtown Cornerstone Church 1700 Seventh Ave. Suite 116 Box #324 Seattle, WA 98101
I II III IV V VI VII VIII IX
firstname.lastname@example.org downtowncornerstone.org facebook.com/downtowncornerstone twitter.com/dccseattle
Introduction The City of Seattle Our Mission Our Values Our Strategy & Structure Support us: Pray, Give, Join Launch Resources Biographical Sketch Appendices Appendix I: Why Plant a New Church in the City? Appendix II: What is a Gospel-Centered Church? Appendix III: What is a Missional Church? Appendix IV: Why is the City Important? Appendix V: Downtown Neighborhood Map
I There is a story unfolding all around us. It’s a story we’re all a part of. It’s the story upon which all other stories rest. In fact, this story makes sense of all other stories. It’s the greatest story ever told, filled to the edges with the greatest news ever imagined. It’s a story in which life, joy, and hope are at stake, now and forever. It explains our deepest longings and our highest hopes. It’s a story no one can escape, though many try. It’s a story that tells us who we are and who we will be. It’s a story that explains why the world is the way it is and why we long for something more, something better. It’s a story filled with great evil and immense good, wicked sin and fantastic grace, the heights of pride and the depths of humility, soulnumbing hate and wondrous love. It’s a story that promises to redeem all evil and, in time, make everything new. This is the true story of God. This story has one central character, Jesus the Christ, one central event, the Cross, one central people, the Church, unified by one central message, the Gospel. This Gospel is the good news that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3) to bring us home to God, destroy Satan, forgive sin, reverse the effects of the Fall1, and once-and-for-all create a people for God out of all tribes, tongues and nations for His glory. The Gospel changes everything.
God calls these Gospel people “the Church”, redeemed sinners who by faith in Jesus have been cleansed of the shame of sin, adopted as children of God, sealed with the Holy Spirit and sent on a mission to enjoy God, redemptively engage their context, and invite everyone into this life that is truly life. Tragically, many do not know this God, this story or this Gospel. In fact, many avoid Him, ignore Him, neuter Him, distort Him, domesticate Him, misunderstand Him, add to or subtract from Him, or simply hate Him. Many, however, have simply never heard of Him. So, we must go to them. What you hold in your hands is the beginning of a new Gospel work - a church - forming in the city center of Seattle, founded on the chief cornerstone, Jesus the Christ. We invite you to read on and join us as we follow Jesus together.
The story continues... in Seattle. 2
the beginning, “In God ...”
II The city of Seattle Seattle is a beautiful, diverse, strategic and paradoxical city. Surrounded by vast bodies of water, paralleled by the towering snow-capped peaks of the Cascades and Olympics, and shrouded under cloud cover over 200 days per year, Seattle is a natural anomaly. It’s been called “Rain City”, “Jet City”, and more recently “Emerald City”. It’s the birth place of Jimi Hendrix, Windows OS, “grunge” music, Amazon.com, the 747, and the ubiquitous Starbucks Mermaid. Seattle is a city of polarities: corporate yet raw, smart yet simple, hopeful yet deeply skeptical, professional yet authentic, established yet creative, home-grown yet world-wide, independent yet communal, natural yet technological, traffic-filled2 yet “green”. On any given day you will see corporate executives, tourists, exchange students, men wearing kilts, college hipsters, veteran cyclists, soccer moms, tattooed baristas, and guitar-toting musicians rubbing shoulders in a single city block. This is Seattle.
white (71.3%), asian (13.2%), black (8.0%), hispanic (5.6%), multiracial (4.0%). Some reports indicate upwards of 190 different languages are spoken in the greater Seattle area. The Brookings Institute recently reported, “Over the next 15 years, the United States is predicted to add a staggering 43 million residents, most of them minorities. All signs point to the Puget Sound region remaining on the front lines of that transformation.”6
At three million, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metro area is the 15th largest in the United States. Approximately 600,000 people call Seattle home, 70,000 of which live in the Center City3 core. Seattle is the 25th largest city in the U.S.4 It has a growing density of nearly 7,000 people per square mile, greater than many other larger cities such as Houston, Phoenix, and San Diego.
Seattle is also ranked as a Gamma World City in the global economic system, alongside the likes of Cape Town, Brisbane, Nairobi and Vancouver. It was also recently ascribed the moniker “Next Frontier City” by the Brookings Institute, for being a growing, highly diverse and highly educated city, similar to Austin, Denver and Washington DC. Seattle has a higher percentage of college graduates than any other American city (53.8% of those over 25).7 It also regularly ranks among the most literate and physically fit among America’s largest cities. Seattle has a strong economy fueled by the tech, aviation, architecture, and recreational industries, while serving as a regional center for medical, performing arts and research. This includes being home to one of the United States’ most respected public research universities, the University of Washington.
Seattle is not only a key regional city, but a key gateway city on the Pacific Rim which contributes to its increasing ethnic diversity. Nearly 30% of the Seattle metro area is non-white (1:3) and 4% are Multiracial Americans (the highest concentration of any major metropolitan area in the US5). Statistically, the city breaks down as follows:
Though moderately populated when compared to other major urban centers, the city center of Seattle8 remains the arts, cultural, sports and entertainment hub of the city and region. Center City is home to more than 312 facilities related to arts, entertainment and culture (including 133 art galleries and 100 bars and music venues). Pike Place
Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. Jeremiah 29:5-7
Market is Center City’s top attraction, drawing 10 million visitors a year. From 2008-2009, Center City performance venues attracted more than 2 million attendees, hosted over 70 festivals, and hundreds of music concerts. More than 3.4 million guests visited Center City’s museums during the same period. Amazingly, nearly half of those employed in the city of Seattle work in the City Center.9
Urban Seattlites. Of those that live in Center City, 56% are between the ages of 25-49, 38% of which have a Bachelors, Masters or Doctorate. 84% of Center City is renter occupied, while nearly 22% is subsidized. Between 2000-2009 there was a 25% increase in families and a 21% increase in the general population. The average household income in Center City is $58,616. Therefore, the majority of urban dwellers are in their 30’s and 40’s, highly educated, politically liberal, single but co-habitating, sexually experimental and renting.
Spiritual Need. Amidst the beauty, creativity, ingenuity, and passion of Seattlites, less than 4% of the nearly 600,000 people here identify themselves as Bible-believing Jesus-loving evangelical Christians.10 Seattle also serves as the epicenter of the region with the nation’s highest density of people who say they have no religion, including atheists and agnostics.11, 12 This clarifies why the state of Washington regularly ranks among the least churched and least religious states in the country.13 In 2008 Forbes magazine gave Seattle the dubious national rankings of 3rd Greediest, 4th Most Lustful, and 4th Most Envious City in the country.14 To make matters worse, the majority of large evangelical churches have either left the city, moralized or politicized the gospel, or ceased to truly love the city. As a result, many are plateaued, declining or dead. To the average Seattlite, evangelical Protestantism is invisible. Simply, Jesus is unknown. That’s where Downtown Cornerstone comes in.15
Downtown Cornerstone Church is a church planted in the soil of the Gospel in the heart of downtown Seattle. The people of Downtown Cornerstone exist to build a great city through the Gospel for the glory of God. We do this by cultivating communities of Spirit-led followers of Jesus that enjoy God, redemptively engage the city, and reach the world.
“Build a Great City” God created all things good, whole, and perfect (Gen 1:31). The Hebrew writers of the Old Testament describe this state as shalom (universal flourishing, wholeness, delight). Sin shattered that shalom. But, God sent His son, Jesus the Christ, to live, die and rise again for the forgiveness of sin and to begin the restoration process of working shalom into every corner of existence - in and through His redeemed people. To be truly Christian is to be truly human; living as we were always intended to live, in relationship with our God. God offers us this life-as-it-should-be through the Gospel, and sends us to “salt” and “light” (Mt 5:13-14) our city; to be agents of preservation, renewal and light in our homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods. We want as many people as possible to meet Jesus and experience life as it was intended to be - now and forever. As this happens, the city changes. In other words, personal Gospel renewal inevitably leads to city renewal as the very social, cultural and spiritual fabric of the city is restored. As people meet Jesus the city is transformed; integrity is restored, families are rebuilt, classes and races are reconciled, the social fabric is rewoven, and the culture is renewed through the Gospel.16 People changed by the Gospel bring about Gospel change. In this, the city witnesses what life should, and one day will, be like under the Lordship of Jesus the Christ. God’s
people serve as a foretaste of the Kingdom that is to come, inviting all who will hear to respond to the invitation of the Gospel.
“Through the Gospel” Politics, social activism, or mere do-goodism cannot change the human heart. We need something far more powerful. We need grace. Radical grace. That grace is only, and freely, made available through the Gospel. In fact, we believe the grace offered in the Gospel, and imparted by the Spirit, is the most powerful change agent in the universe.17 The Gospel is God’s message of good news;18 good news that Jesus Christ came to live, die and rise again for the forgiveness of sin19 to bring redeemed sinners under God’s gracious reign for the renewal of all things.20 The Gospel brings us home to God for life that is truly life - every day.21 This news changes everything (our worship, our community, our identity, our hope - our very life) and is for everyone, both believers22 and not-yetbelievers.
“For the Glory of God” We are all driven by something. We are not merely planting this church for us, or for this city, but for God and His glory (1 Cor 10:31). We want to make Him look as good as He really is in all of His fierce love, radical grace, unsurpassed sovereignty, heart-melting mercy, indescribable beauty, untouchable holiness, perfect righteousness, unchanging eternality, absolute omnipresence, incomparable creativity, faultless wisdom, and unequaled justice. He is God and there is no other (Isa 46:9).
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authoritiesâ€”all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.â€? Col 1:15-20
IV our Values We are unashamedly Christian. We are a church with a deep love for Jesus, a thirst for His Word, and a passion for the spread of His Gospel. He is God.23 All things were created by Him, for Him and through Him.24 He is the Alpha and Omega, the first and last, the beginning and end.25 He is the Cornerstone of the church26 and reality itself.27 Our lives, our teaching, and our worship are all grounded in who Jesus is, what He did, and what He is doing - even today. We are a people, first and foremost, about Him. We exist for Him. We are a Gospel-Centered people.28 The Gospel is God’s message of good news;29 good news that Jesus Christ came to live, die and rise again for the forgiveness of sin30 to bring redeemed sinners under God’s gracious reign for the renewal of all things.31 The Gospel brings us home to God for life that is truly life - every day.32 Our lives are centered in this news. We believe the grace offered in the Gospel, and imparted by the Spirit, is the most powerful change agent in the universe.33 The Gospel changes everything and is for everyone, both believers34 and not-yet-believers. We are a church that exists to seek the welfare of the city, in the city. We love Seattle. We live here, work
here, play here, and raise our families here. The city is our context. The city is a strategic center of spiritual, social and cultural influence. As the city goes, so goes the world. Nowhere else on the planet is such diversity of people found in one place; young and old, black and white, rich and poor, known and unknown. We embrace the city, learn from the city and are for the city. We are not in the city to stand above the city (in judgment) or to hide under the city (in fear) or to mirror the city (in surrender), but to serve the city (in love). We are here for Seattlites who dislike, hate or are skeptical of the church, as well as those who love the church. We are here to bring the Gospel to bear in the every day, serving as the faithful presence of Christ, making God look as good as He really is. As a church, we are a redeemed people, not a place, a meeting or an institution. From beginning35 to end36 God’s aim is to glorify Himself through a people, His people, who He is calling out from all tribes, peoples and languages through the Gospel. He calls this people the Church. We are a local expression of God’s redeemed people. The last thing Seattle needs is just “another” church that is in the city, but doesn’t genuinely love it. Seattle has become, for many, a place to escape from the
“church”. This is understandable, but not the way it should be. We are a church that desires the good of the entire city of Seattle through the multiplication of worshipping, redemptive, missional, sacrificial communities (Cornerstone Communities), littered throughout the greater Seattle area to incarnate Jesus in every crack and crevice of this beautiful city. As the church, we are a people sent across the street and around the world, on a mission with the Gospel. The mission of God is to make disciples. God sends His people, the church, on His mission in their context to create a people for Himself, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As God’s people in Seattle, we are participating in His unfolding story in this great city. We want as many people as possible to experience the sin-cleansing, shame-removing, life-changing, world-altering power of the Gospel. We exist to share this news and our lives with urban workers and urban dwellers. But it doesn’t end there; through the city we reach the world. As God’s people we are called to bring the good news of the Gospel across the street and around the world to those who have never heard the name of Jesus. We must, and will, do both.37
cultural (arts, music, multimedia) renewal. While we believe that lasting change in an individual, family, neighborhood, city or culture cannot happen apart from the transforming work of the Gospel of grace in “word”, we are simultaneously called to salt and light the city with the Gospel in “deed”.40 Lastly, we are an urban multiplication center. Making disciples leads to multiplication; multiplication of disciples, multiplication of communities and multiplication of churches. Our prayerful aim is to build a movement of autonomous neighborhood churches throughout the greater Seattle area through disciple-making-disciples, community multiplication, church planting residencies and in-house leadership development. We are not just a single church, but a movement of Gospel-centered churches. Cities are so incredibly diverse that no single church can fully represent Christ to the City. We aim to plant Gospel-centered churches because we believe God wants all people to be saved41 and He makes Himself known through His people, the Church.42 This is why we are here. Together, these form our core values:
We want to see spiritual, social and cultural renewal in Seattle. We are committed to building a great city, not just a great church, through justice, mercy, creativity, and partnership. The renewal of all things is God’s ultimate aim.38 As God’s redeemed people we are called by God to serve as communities of salt and light.39 We aim to serve as agents of renewal in this city that offer a foretaste of what is to come. We do this by redemptively engaging the city through spiritual (Gospel, communities, church planting), social (mercy, justice, service), and
JesuS: Our God. Gospel: God’s news. City: Our context. Church: God’s people. Mission: God’s heart. Renewal: God’s end. Multiplication: D o it again...
A NEW CITY We envision thousands of people from every corner of the city united under a new identity in Jesus and sent to love, serve and challenge the city...and the cities of the world. Out of personal gospel renewal, urban renewal will flow, as the very spiritual, social and cultural fabric of Seattle is redeemed. To achieve this, our prayerful aim is to create a movement of autonomous Gospelcentered churches in every neighborhood of the city. Through the city, weâ€™ll reach the world.
VTHE STRATEGY & STRUCTURE
We exist to build a great city through the Gospel for the glory of God. Our strategy is fourfold:
#1 Gospel Communities The city is an amazingly complex and diverse place. To incarnate the Gospel in the city, we must become a part of the city in all its forms. We will do this by cultivating communities of Spirit-led followers of Jesus that enjoy God, and redemptively engage the city, beginning in each of the distinct neighborhoods of the downtown core, and around the city. These are communities in which Jesus is loved, life is shared, disciples are made, mission is exercised, the Gospel is lived, others are invited in and, ultimately, churches are planted. By locally incarnating the Gospel, we represent the same Jesus and Gospel in contextually appropriate ways throughout the city, in word and deed.
#2 Sundays Not only will we be cultivating Spirit-filled communities, we’ll also be gathering every Sunday as a single community for Word and worship. We gather around the Word, the Bible, because it is God’s Word to us about who He is, who we are, and His true story of redemption in Jesus Christ. Our Sunday gatherings will be filled with passionate, intellectually engaging, Gospel-centered
preaching and experiential grace for seekers, skeptics and believers alike. We’ll also strive for vibrant worship to glorify God in song and to tangibly experience His presence and power. Our goal is to create Spirit-led and God-glorifying gatherings defined by joy, reverent awe, and excellence.
#3 Discipleship The mission of the church is to make disciples; leading people from rebels to passionate Jesus-followers.43 Without the building and sending of disciples the church dies. The Gospel is what creates, matures and develops disciples. As the Gospel takes greater and greater hold of a disciple’s heart, the result is a humble, Gospel-centered, passionate and contagious follower who invites others to the same. We build disciples by abiding in Jesus, stewarding His gifts, and equipping the saints in love as we trust Jesus to build His church for His glory and our greatest good.
#4 Church Planting We will be a multiplying movement of disciples, communities and churches in the Puget Sound. In other words: do it all again, everywhere.
Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Ps 127:1
Support us: Pray, give, join That’s where we’re going, but we need your help. Please consider how Jesus may be inviting you to support us — whether through prayer, giving, or joining us as we follow Jesus in planting a new Gospel work in the heart of downtown Seattle.
Pray We need prayer. For all our strategizing and preparation, we cannot succeed without the Spirit of God building His church. Please pray with and for us daily. Jesus will build His church, but he does so through the faithful work, service and prayers of His people. There is much spiritual opposition, relational tension, financial strain and physical hardship involved in planting a church. Please join us in prayer to our God who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask, think or imagine (Eph 3:20). Regular prayer updates will be posted on our website at www.downtowncornerstone.org.
Give Downtown Cornerstone is aiming to be a completely self-sustaining church by our fourth year (fall of 2014). Therefore, we need to raise $200,000 for our first year of operation and a total of nearly $500,000 for the first three years. All of this will need to come from outside sources. These funds will help to cover the costs of salaries, administration, promotion, and facility rental. The following chart demonstrates how we will transition from being primarily a church supported by outside financial partners to becoming a self-sustaining, multiplying church.
100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0%
Please pray that... • W e would be a church marked by a deep love for Jesus. • M any souls will be saved and lives transformed through this new Gospel work. • W e would have wisdom, discernment and grace in the city. • We would be given favor by the city. • G od would provide all of our financial needs. • G od would bring the right people at the right time. • M any Gospel-centered Jesus-loving churches would be planted. • S eattle would be loved, served, challenged and changed through the Gospel.
Year 3 External Funds
Year 4 internal Funds
To meet our three-year goal of $500,000, Downtown Cornerstone is looking for churches and individuals to join us as financial partners. This may include regular monthly giving, yearly giving or one-time gifts over the course of our first three years. In the life of a young, urban, missional church in a challenging context, every dollar makes a difference.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. Phil 1:3-5 12
Please consider partnering with us at one of the following levels:
Amount Frequency $10,000
Join Perhaps God is moving you to join us in downtown Seattle. Do you want to be a part of something greater than yourself? Are you a dreamer, builder, missionary, or faith-filled risk-taker? Please pray about joining us, even moving, downtown. Some of you should consider joining the leadership team, raising support and becoming an integral part of this new work.
VII Launch resources If youâ€™re considering joining us on this journey, the following are some helpful resources that will equip, edify and inform. Jesus
The Gospel Centered Life
Church & Mission
Cities of God By: Rodney Stark
A Theology as Big as the City
By: Ray Bakke
Total Church By: S teve Timmis & Tim Chester
Renewal You Can Change
Ministries of Mercy
By: Andy Crouch
By: Tim Chester (Spiritual)
By: Tim Keller (Social)
& Matt Smay
Culture Making By: (Cultural)
Tangible Kingdom By: H ugh Halter
Church Planting Movements By: David Garrison
VIII Biographical Sketch
Adam Sinnett | Planting Pastor
Adam is a native to the Northwest. Born in Seattle, he grew up in Olympia, but returned to attend the University of Washington. While at the UW, Adam met Jesus, his wife Jen, and earned two Bachelor degrees. Adam and Jen have been married for nearly a decade and can often be found adventuring around downtown Seattle with their two young children, Carter and Macy.
Downtown Cornerstone Church holds to the three creeds of the Great Tradition (Apostlesâ€™, Nicene, Athanasian): www.bookofconcord.org/creeds.php
Adam was actively involved in Mars Hill Church, in Seattle, WA, for over a decade. He served five years on staff in several roles, including Acts 29 Assistant Director and the West Seattle Campus Pastor. He has continued to work closely with Acts 29, including most recently, serving as the Northwest region lead and the area director for Latin America. He is currently completing his Masters degree in Biblical Studies through Reformed Theological Seminary. Adamâ€™s passion is to see the Gospel planted in the city of Seattle, rebels made into disciples of Jesus, and churches planted throughout the world.
We also affirm: The Confessional Statement of The Gospel Coalition: http://theGospelcoalition.org/about/foundationdocuments/confessional/ The Doctrinal Statement of The Acts 29 Network: www.acts29network.org/about/doctrine/
endorsements “ “ “ “
From the first day I met Adam I was not only impressed, but blessed. He continues to invest personally in my life, and it is also an honor to partner with Adam and Downtown Cornerstone Church in ministry to Seattle. I love his passion for the City; his integrity and strength of character; and his singleness of purpose, especially when it involves the Gospel and its message of hope! Adam is a godly man who I’m honored to call a friend, and I am thrilled that God has called him to Seattle.” Jeff Lilley President of Union Gospel Mission, Seattle, Wa In all honesty I can’t think of a leader I know more qualified to plant a vibrant gospel-centered church. I have the deepest respect and admiration for Adam and his family and fully support and recommend his new venture to honor Jesus through planting Downtown Cornerstone in Seattle.” Dave Kraft Pastor of Leadership and Gospel Coaching, Mars Hill Church, Seattle, Wa Author of Leaders Who Last
I have worked closely with Adam Sinnett in ministry and on staff at Mars Hill for the better part of seven years. I know him to be a man of great integrity who loves Jesus and the gospel. God has given him a huge heart for Seattle, and for years I have watched Adam’s call unfold through faithful service. I rejoice that he is now planting Downtown Cornerstone. I commend his ministry and leadership without hesitation.” Steve Tompkins Mars Hill Shoreline Campus Pastor, Shoreline, Wa Former Acts 29 Network Director
I have known Adam Sinnett for well over a decade now, first as a young believer involved in campus ministry at the University of Washington, then as a businessman in the community trying to have an impact for Christ, and now as a pastor faithfully following the call of Jesus on his life to reach the city with the life changing message of the gospel. He is a friend, a family man, a pastor who has a heart for people, and a transparent man who knows the day in day out challenges of what it means to live faithfully for Jesus in the city. He is a pastor who men and women can follow and trust as they learn to follow Jesus!” Brian Ricci Seattle Director Campus Crusade for Christ
IX Appendix I Why Plant a New Church in the City? by Adam Sinnett, Lead Pastor Downtown Cornerstone
“The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for 1) the numerical growth of the Body of Christ in any city, and 2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else–not crusades, outreach programs, para-church ministries, growing mega-churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes– will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting. This is an eyebrow raising statement. But to those who have done any study at all, it is not even controversial.” - Tim Keller, “Why Plant New Churches?” (article)
“Church planting? What exactly is that?” Any way you slice it the idea of church planting is often either misunderstood or, literally, unheard of. The questions are many, including: • W hy plant (i.e. start) a new church in a city already filled with many other churches, some even growing? • W hy not focus instead on helping existing churches grow? • W on’t starting a new church merely take people away from other churches?
• Shouldn’t we focus on cultivating better churches, rather than adding churches? These are valid concerns that stem from a fundamental misunderstanding of the complexities of revitalization, organizational life-cycles, demographic diversity, theological distinctions, leadership styles, evangelism, and general philosophies of ministry within existing churches. To put it simply, it’s more complicated than we may at first realize. Therefore, to simplify it a bit, the following are seven guiding principles driving us to plant a new church in the heart of the city of Seattle.
#1. Jesus’ fundamental call was to plant Gospel-centered churches. Matthew 28:18-20 is known as the “Great Commission” from Jesus to the Church. It is a commission to “make disciples”, “of all nations”, to “baptize”, and to “teach”. In other words, Jesus commissions his followers as a sent people; sent to all peoples, to invite them to become one of God’s people, that results in a changed people. It’s a commission to plant churches, not merely isolated acts of sharing our faith. Even the act of baptism itself signifies “incorporation into a worshipping community with accountability and boundaries” (cf Acts 2:42-47). It is apparent the apostles interpreted Jesus’ words in this way as they immediately began to plant churches after Pentecost.44 (cf Acts 13f)
#2. More people are reached through more Gospel-centered churches.
#3. Newer churches reach more people than older churches.
Statistics show that the more churches there are that preach and practice the Gospel, the more people there will be who are reached with the Gospel. The opposite is also true; fewer Gospel-centered churches results in fewer people changed by the gospel.
Not only do more Gospel-centered churches reach more people; newer churches reach more people than older churches.
“Dozens of studies confirm that the average new church gains most of its new members (60-80%) from the ranks of people who are not attending any worshipping body, while churches over 10-15 years of age gain 8090% of new members by transfer from other congregations.” - Tim Keller, Church Planting Manual p30
In other words, the more new churches that are planted, the more new people there will be who are reached with the gospel. Keller argues that if churches over 10-15 years of age gain 80-90% of new members by transfer growth and the majority of churches in any given context fall into that category, the number of active Christian churchgoers will be shrinking even if some of those churches are doubling in attendance. In this scenario, which is the case in Seattle, the church growth in existing churches only helps to offset the normal declines of the older churches. Ground is still lost. “No time in American history has the need for new churches been more critical. New church planters are needed now to scale back the decline and death of existing churches. In order to survive Christ’s church must be replanted in every generation.”
“The average new [church] will bring 6-8 times more new people into the life of the Body of Christ than an older congregation of the same size…What does this mean practically? The only wide-scale way to bring in lots of new Christians to the Body of Christ in a permanent way is to plant new churches.” - Tim Keller, Church Planting Manual p30
Joel Comiskey provides a possible explanation of why this is true… ”Church plants need new people, new ideas and new vision if they are going to emerge out of the darkness into the sunlight. Established churches tend to be more concerned about building upkeep, the personality of the preacher, who’s on the board, and the program schedule for the upcoming year… Church plants are completely stripped of all illusions. Do or die. Reach out or close the doors. Invite or implode. Church [plants] are desperate for growth. Without growth, the church folds. This reality keeps church [plants] on their knees, crying out to God.” - Joel Comiskey, Planting Churches that Reproduce p31
- Joel Comiskey, Planting Churches that Reproduce p28
#4. Big churches are not always the most effective. It is easy to assume that larger churches are more effective than smaller churches. Though that is true in some areas, it is not true in all areas. “Statistics do not support the assumption that size is necessarily the best way to reach people. Though large churches are often more cost effective than small churches, new churches are more effective than large churches, particularly in evangelism. On a per-capita basis, new churches win more people to Christ than established churches.” - Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches p7
Additionally, Seattle is a paradoxical, independent and slightly-anarchist city. We love coffee, but prefer independent coffee shops. We love music, particularly of the independent, home-grown variety. We like creativity and innovation, as long as it was done out of a garage and not a high-rise. We don’t take well to “the man” – no matter what form he (she?) comes in. Big churches in Seattle can be viewed in the same way. Though big churches have their niches, Seattle is a city of independent, distinctive neighborhoods, each calling for an independent, distinctive, local gospel expression.
#5. Planting new churches is often more effective than church revitalization. Whatever you call it – replanting, revitalizing, or rejuvenating – helping to save plateauted, declining or dead churches is next to impossible. “Saving dead and dying churches is more difficult and ultimately more costly than starting new ones. Some authorities even argue that changing
a rigid, tradition-bound congregation is almost impossible…starting new churches is much easier and, perhaps, a better overall stewardship of kingdom resources, just as it’s sometimes more cost-effective to purchase a new vehicle, rather than pouring money into an old one to keep it running like new.” - Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches p11
Rather, argues Peter Wagner… “Planting new churches is the most effective evangelistic methodology known under heaven.” - C. Peter Wagner, Strategic Growth p168
#6. There is a great need in our city. Amidst the beauty, creativity, ingenuity, and passion of Seattlites less than 4% of the nearly 600,000 people here identify themselves Bible-believing evangelical Christians. The Northwest has been described as the “None Zone” because it is home to the nations highest density of people who say they have no religion, including atheists & agnostics, making sense of Seattle’s ranking as fourth least churched city in the country. In 2008 Forbes magazine gave Seattle the dubious national rankings of 3rd Greediest City (4th, 11th, and 16th richest Americans call Seattle home), 4th Most Lustful City (124% more sales of contraceptives than the national average), and 4th Most Envious City (crime). The majority of large evangelical churches have either left the city, are located outside the city or import their Sunday message by way of video. To the average Seattlite, evangelical Protestantism is invisible.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations...” Mt 28:18
#7 God has made it clear to us. After years of prayer, counsel and consideration, we believe that Jesus has called us to plant a new church in the heart of the city. So, that’s what we’re doing. We’d love to have you join us. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
Appendix II What is a Gospel-Centered Church? Adapted from “What is a Gospel Centered Church?” Rethink Mission45 A movement has begun among a diverse group of evangelical churches. One by one, pastors are coming to the realization that they are not preaching the Gospel. Pause. Christian churches that do not preach the Gospel? Wait. What then are they teaching? Are they teaching antiChristian doctrine? Satanism? Snake-handling? Often, these churches have not fallen into some gross heresy. Most likely, it’s just that over time, they’ve let the Gospel slip in favor of another way to draw and change people. A few of the most prevalent things that can crowd out the Gospel are: • M oralism uses fear, rules, and commands as the basis for discouraging sin and encouraging holy living. Sadly, this results in increased self-righteousness among rule-keepers and absolute despair in those who are unable to live up.
• P ragmatism encourages church leaders to spend more time teaching helpful techniques or useful principles than pointing people to the only thing that has real power to change both hearts and lives the Gospel.
• Activism (politics, agendas, etc) occurs when Christians of every political stripe begin to equate the spread of the Gospel with the growth of a specific political party, platform, or agenda in order to influence policy making and decision makers. What’s deceiving here is that usually these “–isms” start with noble aspirations: a desire to help people change and grow, a desire to reach out to people far from God, or a desire to use influence to change the way things are done. Unfortunately, when something other than God is our primary goal, no matter how good that goal is, we will eventually start taking short cuts to get what we want accomplished.
A Gospel-centered church understands that change or transformation of any kind, especially authentic heart-transformation, cannot happen apart from the Gospel of grace by the Spirit.
A Gospel-centered church roots and keeps the focus of all its activity – teaching, worship, outreach, social activism, and discipleship – honed in on the Gospel: the riches of the grace of God available because of the sacrificial death of Jesus for sinners.
Because of this, a Gospel-centered church is committed to: • R eading and teaching the entire Bible in light of the Gospel. • P reaching the Gospel to believers, not just unbelievers. • L eaders applying the Gospel to themselves first; church leaders are the first repenters. • C ultivating a leadership culture marked by ever increasing “Gospel astonishment”. • B eing known for an atmosphere of grace; Gospel-centered churches are safe places for seekers, skeptics and those outside of the faith.
• Producing people who don’t just know the doctrine of the Gospel but who love the person of Jesus Christ. These are the themes that we are committed to living together as Downtown Cornerstone. At the end of the day, grace isn’t just something we “get” and the cross is not just some object in time. These things hinge on a person. At the center of it all is a person. Jesus. In an age when His name is easily tossed around or relegated to some minor point of doctrine used to win arguments and manipulate people, we long for the day when Jesus is seen for what He is: the hero of the story.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins...” Col 1:15-20
Appendix III What is a Missional Church? Adapted from articles by Ed Stetzer46 and Jonathan McIntosh47 We’re all on a mission of some kind. The question is: What’s yours? What defines what your life is about? That’s your mission. Jesus gave His church, His people, one mission: make disciples from rebels (Mt 28:18-20). Calling rebellious sinners to faith in Jesus for the forgiveness of sin, life with God (beginning now) and partnering with Him in his unfolding story is the mission of the church. However, often the church drifts from this mission. This happens when a church lets something else take over as the primary mission: a building project, an unstated theology of “people should come to us,” personality of the preacher, the size of the church, making budget, keeping programs running or sometimes simple laziness. There is often an unspoken attitude that hangs like a cloud over the
entire church, an attitude that makes it clear those who don’t look like us, dress like us, vote like us, have the same skin color as us, or the same socioeconomic background as us are not welcome here. Ultimately, when mission drift occurs indefinitely the church stops...reaching...people. People. Real, living, sweating, broken, sinful people. People need hope. They need God. They need the light of the Gospel. The term “missional” is simply the noun “missionary” adapted into an adjective. Thus, a “missionary” is someone who acts like a missionary (e.g. understands a culture, proclaims the faithful Gospel in a way that people in culture can understand, and uses parts of that culture to glorify God). A “missional church” is a church that acts like a missionary in its community.
“ If we are going to reach a changing Seattle (let alone world) in this generation and the next, we have to contend for the unchanging faith (Jude 3), but do so using forms that are relevant to all kinds of people (1 Cor. 9:22-23). That’s a missional church - a church acting like a missionary to the community around it while partnering with others to be missionaries around the world. What, then, do missional churches look like? Incarnational: Missional churches are deeply connected to the community. The church is not focused on its facility, but is focused on living, demonstrating, and offering biblical community to a lost world. It means following the example of Jesus, God becoming man. We are now commissioned to become part of the community in which God has placed us as redemptive agents. Indigenous: Missional churches are indigenous. Churches that are indigenous have taken root in the soil and reflect, to some degree, the culture of their community. An indigenous church looks different from Seattle to Senegal to Singapore. This means that churches must become humble students of the varied peoples and cultures surrounding them to communicate the Gospel truth in ways the culture understands. Intentional: Missional churches are intentional about their methodologies: • Intentional about producing missionaries instead of consumers in the discipleship process. • I ntentional about equipping people to live every day with Gospel intentionality. • I ntentional about building a great city and not just a good church.
I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some.” 1 Cor 9:22
• Intentional about planting other churches to go and do the same. • Intentional about Biblical fidelity merged with contextual engagement. A missional church responds to the sending commands of Jesus by becoming an incarnational, indigenous, and intentional Gospel presence in its context. When Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so send I you,” (John 20:21) that was not to a select group of cross-cultural missionaries. Instead, that was a commission to each of us in our context. In all this, Jesus serves as our primary example. The incarnation – God becoming man – helps us understand and relate to people. The cross provides the framework for our theology (what we believe and how we relate to God). But it’s the incarnation that provides the framework for our missiology (what we believe and how we relate to culture). During His earthly ministry we see Jesus loving people, spending time with people, and sharing His life with people. We see an outcast ministering to outcasts, we see grace offered to a prostitute, an adulterer, and a tax-collector. We see a God-man moved with absolute compassion because He sees those around Him are “harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36). And He says I am here. I am here to “seek and save that which is lost.” A missional church sees that people and culture are not enemies of the church, but broken treasures that God is restoring. Restoration is only made fully and freely available through the Gospel delivered by God’s sent people, the Church. That’s missional. We have a sender (Jesus), a message (the Gospel), and a people to whom we are sent (real people in culture). These are the themes that we are committed to living out together as Downtown Cornerstone.
• I ntentional about working to heal the real wounds and righting injustices in the community through mercy and social justice. 24
Appendix IV Why is the City Important? Adapted from “Why is the City so Important to the Christian Church?” by Tim Keller48 “In every earthly city, there are two cities vying for control - the City of Man and the City of God” - Augustine
The city is our context. Cities are strategic centers of spiritual, social and cultural influence. As the city goes, so goes the world. In fact, the entire trajectory of human history will culminate in an urban environment.49 Nowhere else on the planet is such diversity of people found in one place; young and old, black and white, rich and poor, known and unknown. We love Seattle, desire to learn from Seattle and are for Seattle. Hebrews 11:10 says “For he was looking forward to the city with foundation whose builder and maker is God.” God began history in a Garden, but is ending it in a city (Rev 21). God tells Adam to multiply and develop a civilization that will glorify Him (Gen 1:27-28). Adam fails, and God through Christ, the second Adam, gets a civilization that glorifies Him. But Hebrews and Revelation 21 show us that the world He desires is urban. The wife of the Lamb is a beautiful city, shining with the glory of God (Rev 21:10-11). When we look at the New Jerusalem, we discover that in the midst of the city is a crystal river and the Tree of Life, bearing fruit and leaves which heal the nations of the effects of the divine covenant curse. The city is the Garden of Eden, remade. The City is the fulfillment of the purposes of the Eden of God. Is this only metaphorical? God is called a Father who is building a spiritual family. That means that, though the
earthly family is an institution corrupted by sin, we are to seek to redeem and rebuild human families. So God is a city builder who is building a spiritual city. That means that, though the earthly city is an institution corrupted by sin, we are to seek to redeem and rebuild human cities. As we are to redeem human families by spreading within them the family of God, so we are to redeem human cities by spreading within them the city of God. We know that the power of marriage is such that as your marriage goes, so goes your life. So the power of cities are such that, as the city goes, so goes society.
Cities are a place of shelter for the weak and different. Under God, the city was created as a place of refuge from criminals, animals and marauders. By its nature, the city is a place where minorities can cluster for support in an alien land, where refugees can find shelter and where the poor can better eke out an existence. The city is always a more merciful place for minorities of all kinds. The dominant majorities often dislike cities, but the weak and powerless need them. They cannot survive in the suburbs and small towns. Thus, unlike villages, cities are places of diversity. They reflect the Future City where there will be people of “every tongue, tribe, people, and nation.” Under sin, however, the city becomes a refuge from God, where people with deviant lifestyles can run and hide because of the natural tolerance the city breeds toward those who are different. Also, under sin, the diversity breeds anger, tension and violence between the different groups.
Cities are cultural and human development centers.
Cities are places of spiritual searching and temple building.
Under God, the city stimulates and focuses the gifts, capacities and talents of people, and the deep potentialities in the human heart. It does so by bringing you into contact with people unlike you - very diverse and providing different perspectives - and with people like you who are just as good or better at what you do. The concentration of human talent, both by competition and cooperation, produces greater works of art, science, technology and culture. The city moves you to reach down and press toward excellence.
Under God, the city is the place where God dwells in the center - in the earthly city of Jerusalem, the temple stands as the central integrating point of the city’s architecture and as the apex of its art, science and technology. Even now, the city’s intensity makes people religious seekers.
Under sin, however, the city is exhausting, leading to burn out. Also, the city leads human beings into ambition to “make a name of themselves” (Gen 11:4). Selfishness, pride, and arrogance are magnified in the city. Since God invented it as a “cultural mine,” the city now brings out whatever is in the human heart, the very best and worst of humanity.
Under sin, however, as in ancient times, the city was built around ziggurats, “landing pads” for the god of the city, so today people are drawn into skyscraper temples worshipping “self ” and money. Cities are hotbeds of religious cults, idols and false gods. Since cities breed spiritual seeking, when Christians abandon the cities the seekers fall into the hands of idols and heresies. In summary, in every earthly city, there are two “cities” vying for control. They are the City of Man and the city of God (see Augustine’s City of God). Though the fight between these two kingdoms happens everywhere in the
â€œ world, earthly cities are the flash points on the battle-lines, the places where the fighting is most intense, and where victories are the most strategic. Because of the power of the city, it is the chief target of the forces of darkness, since that which wins the city sets the course of human life, society and culture. Therefore, the city is the most crucial place to minister. Who can we reach in the city? If the Christian church wants to really change the country and culture, it must go into the cities themselves, not just into the suburbs or even the exurbs. Three kinds of persons live there who exert a tremendous influence on our society. We cannot reach them in the suburbs. They are: 1) the elites who control the culture and who are becoming increasingly secularized; 2) the masses of new immigrants who move out into the mainstream society over the next 30 years; 3) the poor, whose dilemmas are deepening rapidly and affecting the whole country.
Behold, I am making all things new... Rev 21:5
Why can we best reach them in the city? Wayne Meeks of Yale, in The First Urban Christians, points out that Paulâ€™s missionary work was urban-centered. He went to population centers, and ignored small towns and the countryside. Christianity spread better in the urban Roman Empire than in the countryside. Why? 1) People in the city are less conservative, and more open to new ideas. 2) Christian evangelists found that, in the city the Gospel could spread faster into the influence centers - law, politics, arts, etc. and into diverse national groups. By the year 300 AD over half of the urban populations of the Empire were Christian while the countryside was pagan. (The word pagnus means country man!) The early church was urban. There is no intrinsic reason for urban people to be less religious, only less traditional.
Appendix V Downtown Neighborhood map
Last Updated February 2, 2010
1 Gen 3
18 Luke 7:22; Acts 10:36; 1 Peter 1:12
2 P ryne, Eric (June 21, 2002). “The Seattle Times. http://community.
19 1 Cor 15:1-3; John 3:16-17; Gal 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24
20 Eph 1:3-14; Phil 2:9,10; Mt 5-7; Rev 21:1-4
21 Mt 7:14; 10:39; John 1:4; 4:14; 10:10; 11:25; 20:31; Acts 5:20; 11:18;
3U ptown, South Lake Union, Belltown, Denny Triangle, Waterfont, Central Business District, Pioneer Square, the International District and parts of Capitol Hill, First Hill and SoDo 4 “List of United States by Population”, Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_population (Retrieved 07.20.10) 5 “Seattle”, Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seattle (Retrieved 07.10.10) 6 “ The Challenge of Seattle’s Emerging Society”, Bruce Katz. 05.28.2010
Rom 6:4; 8:2; 2 Cor 3:6; 2 Cor 4:10; Phil 2:16; 4:3; 1 Tim 6:19; 1 John 1:1 22 Col 2:6; Gal 2:14 23 John 1:1,14; 8:58; 10:30; Mk 14:61-62; 2 Cor 4:4; Phil 2:5-10; Col 2:9; Heb 1:3,8; 1 Tim 3:16; Mt 1:23; 24 Col 1:15-20; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 8:6 25 Rev 22:13 26 Eph 2:20; 1 Peter 2:6; Acts 4:11; Mt 21:42; Mk 12:20; Lk 20:17 27 Col 1:15-20; Rom 11:36; 1 Cor 8:6
28 See “Appendix II: What is a Gospel-Centered Church?”
29 Luke 7:22; Acts 10:36; 1 Peter 1:12
7 US Census Bureau (2008). “. http://bit.ly/alr0nN (Retrieved 2009-0429) 8 For a map see “Appendix V: Downtown Neighborhoods” 9 D owntown Seattle Association: Economic Information http://www. downtownseattle.com/content/businesses/Arts.cfm 10 E d Stetzer, “The Most Effective Evangelistic Strategy Under Heaven”,
30 1 Cor 15:1-3; John 3:16-17; Gal 1:4; 1 Peter 2:24 31 Eph 1:3-14; Phil 2:9,10; Mt 5-7; Rev 21:1-4 32 Mt 7:14; 10:39; John 1:4; 4:14; 10:10; 11:25; 20:31; Acts 5:20; 11:18; Rom 6:4; 8:2; 2 Cor 3:6; 2 Cor 4:10; Phil 2:16; 4:3; 1 Tim 6:19; 1 John 1:1 33 Rom 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18,24; Eph 2:8-10
SBC Life, June 2003, http://www.sbclife.org/articles/2003/06/sla14.asp
34 Col 2:6; Gal 2:14
35 Gen 1:27-28
11 C athy Lynn Grossman, “Amen to a church-free lifestyle”, USA Today,
36 Rev 7:9-12
37 Mt 28:18-20; Rom 10:14-15
htm (Retrieved 07.20.10)
38 Rev 21:5
12 F roma Harrop, “The unchurched Northwest”, Seattle Times, 10.11.05,
39 Mt 5:13-14
40 Col 3:17; James 2:14-26; Mt 25:42-46
harrop11.html (Retrieved 07.20.10)
41 1 Tim 2:4
13 A ssociation of Religion Data Archives. “Rates of Adherence.”
42 1 Peter 2:9-12
43 Matthew 28:18-20
asp?state=101&variable=616 (Retrieved 07.28.10); “Church
44 Adapted from “Why Plant Churches?” by Tim Keller
Attendance Lowest in New England, Highest in South”, Gallup http://
45 “What is a Gospel Centered Church?” by Jonathan McIntosh, http://
www.gallup.com/poll/22579/Church-Attendance-Lowest-NewEngland-Highest-South.aspx (Retrieved 07.28.10) 14 A merica’s Most Sinful Cities”, Forbes.com, 02.14.08, http:// www.forbes.com/2008/02/14/cities-sinful-lander-forbeslife-cx_ lm_0213sinful_land.html (Retrieved 07.20.10) 15 S ee “Appendix 1: Why Plant a New Church in the City?” 16 Tim Keller, “Changing the Fabric of the City”, Redeemer Church Planting Center: Church Planting Manual, p228 17 R om 1:16; 1 Cor 1:18,24; Eph 2:8-10
www.rethinkmission.org/about-rethink-mission-what-is-a-Gospelcentered-church/ 46 “A Missional Church”, Ed Stetzer, The Christian Index “http://www. christianindex.org/1657.article (Retrieved 2009-04-29) 47 “Christ City Church Vision Packet: What is a Missional Church” Jonathan McIntosh 48 Tim Keller, “Why is the City so Important to the Christian Church”, Redeemer Church Planting Center: Church Planting Manual, p45-46 49 Rev 21:2
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” Eph 1:16
Sincerest thanks to: My Jesus. “Having nothing, yet possessing everything.” (2 Cor 6:10) My beautiful wife and family. “Glorify the Lord with me. Let us exalt his name together.” (Ps 34:3) David Parker for having a passion to get it done for Jesus, whatever it is. Niels Toft for the great layout and drive to make Jesus look as good as He is through design. Robertson Ashman for the creative and original photography. Peter Isaza for capturing the vision and the city on video. Nathaniel Blue for mad mixes, audible and visible. Kyle Peters. You know. The dozen or so original members of Downtown Cornerstone. May God multiply your ranks and bless your prayers, mission and service in this city and the cities of the world. Those who chose to financially support us before any of this came into being. Thank you. Those who have helped shape my thinking in the content and layout of this document: Tim Keller, Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Ed Stetzer, Steve Timmis, Tim Chester, Jeff Vanderstelt, Caeasar Kalinowski, Jonathan Dodson, Jonathan McIntosh, JD Senkbile, Mark Bergin and countless others.