I got the idea for this post from Amy, over at Raising Arrows! Check out what her Family-Integrated Church looks like! As I read her post yesterday, I thought, “I go to a Family Integrated Church! It never occurred to me to tell about my church–what a great idea!” And there is no better time than on Thankful Thursday, because I am very grateful that God has brought us to Cornerstone.
What Does Family Integrated Mean?
Family Integrated means we worship together as families. Dad, Mom, and all the children sit together through the whole service. But, Family Integrated means more at Cornerstone. It means “family” is encouraged. The goal is to strengthen everyone in the family in their Biblical role, building them up in their faith in Jesus Christ, helping fathers to lead their families, wives to be helpmeets, coming alongside parents as they teach and train their children to obey and honor their fathers and mothers, so they may succeed in raising and nurturing their children in the admonition of the Lord, and turning the hearts of fathers to the children. The grace of Jesus Christ enables all of this. Couples are encouraged to accept however many children God sees fit to give them as gifts, believing God when He says,
3Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward.
4As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth.
5Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.
At Cornerstone, there are families of all sizes. But larger families feel “safe” and accepted.
We have 3 elders, who lead and teach, and rotate sharing from the Scriptures, chapter by chapter, verse by verse, each week. Right now we’re studying Exodus, following a study of Genesis. The chapter we’re memorizing is Psalm 25. Before the sermon the elder takes us through a practice of the next verse.
Mike and Chris
Here are two of our elders and their wives (the third wasn’t able to be there) at our Elder Appreciation Dinner in December. You can see the third, David, and his wife, Carolyn, if you visit their blog at Hebrews Eleven One as they chronicle their lives and most recently, bringing home Madeline, their adopted daughter from Ukraine.
Mark and Lynn
What’s A Typical Sunday Look Like
Well, for starters, our church service is two hours long! 10:00-12:00, and then we have fellowship time for another couple of hours! (My next post on this subject will address the questions, or Some of Them, that I know you’re thinking right now! 2 hours! I could never make my kids sit still for 2 hours!)
Six hymns, with all the verses, are sung during the service, led by Ryan, the son of one of our elders, with accompaniment by a pianist, 3 violinists and 2 cellists. We stand for almost all hymn-singing, to give a break from sitting so long.
The Order (based on Acts 2:42):
- 2-3 hymns first (10:00-10:20?)
- Then the sermon, (the three elders rotate speaking every week, and the musicians rotate with the speaker) (10:20-11:00??)
- Another hymn or two (11:05-11:10??)
- Then dads and sons share testimonies (11:10-11:25)
Another hymn, followed by communion every Sunday, (celebrating communion every Sunday helps us to remember what Christ has done for us, we’re a forgetful people, and to keep short accounts with Him–the elements are crackers, made by one elder’s family, and grape juice.
We stay in our seats for this part, and dads decide when their children possess true salvation: the only criterion for participation, and are ready to participate). A few men share a verse or a prayer during a time of quiet contemplation, and then the elements are passed out by 5 or so of the young men.
- One more hymn and then (11:25-11:45)
Praise and Prayer time (11:45-Noon).
The man leading this part asks for and writes down the praises and prayers as they are called out, and the leader asks for a volunteer, who raises his hand, to pray for that request. After all the requests have been taken, those volunteering to pray come up to the podium where the microphone is, so they can be heard as they pray, while everyone else prays silently with them. Announcements are given at the end of the service by one of the elders.
Dads and older sons take turns leading the different parts of the service, and often share some verses or a little encouragement or exhortation related to their part. No “collection/giving” is taken or mentioned. There’s a locked box in the back on a table, and we have a Treasurer who takes care of all that. (More on the financial aspects next time.)
How Cornerstone Started and When We Came
Cornerstone Church has been our church home for a little over 7 years. Eight years ago, three Homeschooling Dads (Mike, Mark and David) decided to meet together for worship. Mike and David’s families live about an hour and a half from each other and Mark’s family lives halfway between. They took turns hosting in their homes. A couple more families joined them in the next year. They weren’t “starting a church” but seeking the Lord’s direction. Mark and David’s families were/are two of our very best friends.
Personal note: This was all taking place shortly after I was diagnosed and had surgery for ovarian cancer, and when I was going through chemotherapy. There is a whole story to tell of what God was doing in our lives related to church prior to coming to Cornerstone, but I’ll save that for another day.
After they’d been meeting for about nine months, we attended the baptismal service around the pool at David’s home, about 10 minutes away from us. A couple of months later we began attending Cornerstone. It happened to be the first day they met in the community center that we meet in now, which is located 5 minutes from Mark’s home (kind of in the middle of everyone).
Size and Distance
There were maybe 7 families (I forget) on that first Sunday in the community center, with perhaps 50-75 people attending. It was lovely and the fellowship wonderful. Word spread. The church grew. Now there are about 50+ families with close to 400 people, who come from far and wide. They were looking for Biblical encouragement and fellowship with like-minded Christians. If you’ve ever looked for a Family Integrated Church, you know that they’re not on every street corner. Our drive to church is about a 40-minute beautiful drive mostly through the countryside, and I actually love it–I wouldn’t want it any shorter–because I can quiet my heart and enjoy the scenery, pray, and get ready to worship. Many Cornerstone families drive 30 to 45 minutes (or more) to come to church.
I’m so grateful for the “journey” which has brought us to worship at Cornerstone. I thank God for each and every family, and all the deep and enduring friendships which have been formed in these last 7 years and look forward to worshiping for many more years, Lord willing, at Cornerstone! Thank you, Lord!!
If you have questions that you’d like me to answer about our church–I’ve gotten kind of used to it, so I don’t notice sometimes how unusual it is–please leave a comment, and I’ll try to answer them in my post on Tuesday.
So, what are you thankful for today? Visit Laurie at Women Taking A Stand, to participate and read other thankful hearts!