Cornerstone Church and Ministries

 joelI just got back from a ministry trip to Virginia, where I ministered to the pastors and leaders at the Cornerstone Church. I spoke on Friday and in the evenings. Dave Earley gave the leadership seminar on Saturday. I was really blessed to meet Dave Earley for the first time. Dave is a passionate man of God and author of the excellent book, Eight Habits of Effecticve Small Group Leaders.

The founder and senior leader of Cornerstone is Gerald Martin. The mother church is located in Harrisonburg, VA. The network has grown to ten network churches and five overseas churches. Their website is:

Gerald Martin now operates in the apostolic role. He and his wife, Sophia, travel in an RV to each of the ten churches and stay three weeks out of the year in each church. This particular conference was held at the Cornerstone Church in Fisherville, VA. The first thing I saw when entering the parking lot was Martin’s RV hooked up to the side of the church building. Although Sophia misses being permanently close to the grandkids, they believe they are in God’s will. Gerald told me that being in each of the ten churches for three weeks allows him to really understand what’s happening in the church.

Gerald Martin has worked closely with Ralph Neighbour for many years. The movement has also been influenced by Bethany World Prayer Center (principle of twelve). Martin and staff attended Bethany World Prayer Center’s annual leadership conference on cell ministry for many years. Most Cornerstone Churches, in fact, have the “principle of twelve” banner hanging from the ceiling. Yet, Cornerstone has not adopted the G12 care structure in its entirety. Rather they’ve adapted and fine-tuned it to fit their own culture and context. They really understand that the G12 model can’t give growth in itself. Principles, rather than models, are the key. 

The Cornerstone training track is one of the best available today. It begins with encounter retreats focused on gaining personal freedom from past baggage by taking people to the cross. It continues with schools of leaders designed to teach and train believers for ministry and leadership followed with advanced courses in preparation for full time pastoral ministry . 

I was encouraged by God’s creative work through Cornerstone.


Preparing the Horse

I’d like to offer a few thoughts in line with Joel’s post yesterday entitled, “Do Your Best.”

Evaluating the “health,” “growth,” or “success” of a cell and/or cell church is tricky business, isn’t it?  What are the measurement sticks?  Multiplications?  Baptisms?  New Believers?  Number of Celebration attenders in a cell group?  Tithes/Offerings?  While all these “indicators” might render some thoughts concerning health, growth, or success… are they the true measurements?

I’m quite confident that God will not “score” me on the above indicators.  God:  “Rob, why did you have a dip in your Celebration attenders attending a cell in 2006?”  Somehow, I don’t believe He will ask such a question.  I trust you agree?

Through author and pastor Larry Osborne, I was reminded of Proverbs 21:30-31 which reads:  Human plans, no matter how wise or well advised, cannot stand against the Lord.  The horses are prepared for battle, but the victory belongs to the Lord.

Larry writes in his book, Contrarian’s Guide to Knowing God, “The passage reminded me that final outcomes are in the hands of the Lord.  It’s his will that prevails…[there is] one thing I could control, and by inference, the one thing I’ll be held responsible for:  How well was I preparing my horse for battle?  It cause me to realize that during my Dark Years I was asking the wrong question.  I asked, `How are things going?’  I should have asked, `Am I doing the right things?  Am I preparing my horse for victory?’  In the end, that’s all I have any control over.”

If you appreciate Larry’s thought, then you must consider, “What are the RIGHT things?”

Something tells me the heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.  Therefore, “Guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life.”


by Rob Campbell

Do Your Best

JOELSeveral months I was eating lunch with cell leaders in a church in Connecticut. I had just finished preaching in the two morning services and the pastoral staff and cell leaders were gathered around to ask questions about cell ministry. LIKEjesus

One youth cell leader shared his frustration with cell members not paying attention during the cell meeting. He said, “I prepare really hard for my cell lesson, and I feel that God shows me what I should I say and the questions I should ask the group. How come the members seem so bored with the meeting? I feel like I must be doing something wrong. What do you think?”

I told him that oftentimes we really don’t know what’s going on inside people. I told him that during my two Sunday sermons that morning, I felt like a failure at times. Why? Because several people were yawning, appeared bored, and just didn’t seem like they were getting much out of my message. I had to cry out inwardly to God. But ultimately I could only do my best and leave the results to God. 

The senior pastor chimed in, “Monday’s are often my most depressing days. I’m always thinking about what I should have said or could have done differently in my sermon.”

I told this youth cell leader, “Oftentimes, leading a cell is finding out what pastors experience all the time.” I told him, “all you can do is your very best. Hear from Jesus, prepare your cell lesson, and then just believe that you’ve done your best FOR HIM.”



Fear Not!

joelThe Lord has been showing me a lot lately about the topic of fear (e.g., the fear of the Lord, why we fear, and how God wants to deliver us from fear). I preached on this topic several weeks ago, and God revealed how many fears I was personally harboring. He showed me that He really wanted to deliver me from fear. I have the tendency to allow my feelings or intellect to overcome God’s clear teaching about NOT FEARING. fearNOTI can become fearful about witnessing, coaching leaders, speaking at conferences, etc. God has been showing me that He desires for me to live in freedom from fear. Lately, I’ve found a lot of freedom in just remembering that God doesn’t want me to fear.

Fear is not from Him. Surely, we’re going to be nervous at times, but living in fearfulness  is  sin. God wants to give us freedom from fear! 

Perhaps you fear the possibility of leading a cell group. God wants to help you overcome that fear. Perhaps leading your current cell makes you afraid. God wants to free you. Remember what God says about fear:

  • “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. ï»¿And by him we cry, Abba, ï»¿Father” (Romans 8:15).
  • “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love” (1 John 4:8).
  • Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil— and FREE THOSE who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death”  (Hebrews 2:14-15).
  • “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline” (1 Timothy 1:7).
  • “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea” (Psalm 46:1-2).
  • “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Is. 41:10).




The importance of outreach


by Steve Cordle

Yesterday Joel gave us a great reminder of the value of “the empty chair”.

Sustaining an outreach orientation in a group can be one of the most challenging aspects of leading a cell. But evangelism and outreach are essential.

There are those close off small groups to new people in order to focus on discipleship and community. But isn’t it better to disciple people to be witnesses? Can we really close off a group and then expect people later to spontaneously develop redemptive relationships with lost people? If the cell is the basic expression of the church, it must be outward oriented if the church is giong to be outward oriented.

Some ways a leader can help prompt outreach:

– Teach the group that evangelism is a biblical command, and the heart of Jesus. If this is not clear, the members might interpret the leader’s prompts to reach out as merely a numbers game, or buildling their own kingdom. If they realize Jesus yearns for those apart from him, they respond differently.

– Include follow-up questions after the group prays for the empty chair. Ask, “Over the past week did you invite someone to worship? to cell? What happened?”

It is very invigorating to a group to welcome a new member and see someone come to faith and grow. Let’s help our people experience that gift!