1. Cornerstone growth strategy
One church with multiple campuses
Cornerstone is one church with congregations meeting at different locations, each with its own personality but holding to common values. The congregations are currently located at Concord, Eastwood, Strathfield, Homebush Bay, Rhodes, Willoughby and Kogarah and have their own pulpit ministry and leadership team.
Church planting is a most effective way to mobilize God’s people to reach more people with the gospel. New church plants, properly established and led, are strategic in finding new opportunities to connect and engage with new people. At the same time, the sending congregations are themselves revitalized as the shared vision to reach out again confronts them in real ways and encourages people to step up to fill in resulting ministry vacuums.
Church planting body
It is important that Cornerstone continues to plant churches to the glory of God.
Church planting is best done as a shared ministry of multiple congregations of the one church. Cornerstone is one body with multiple congregations within it. Each new congregation enlarges this body. As a body of congregations, it is believed that together they can effectively and efficiently plant sustainable congregations.
Cornerstone has characteristics of both a small and a large church. Its congregations and members benefit from the community of smaller congregations but also from the strength in resources of a big church.
2. The strength of small church
One of the great benefits of being a small church is that people can more effectively reach and adapt to the community they serve. Locating congregations in new neighbourhoods enables the church to make better connections with those who live and play in the surrounding area and facilitate those who have existing and ongoing relationship with the community in reaching them with the gospel.
In a small church new people are easily recognised, and those who may slip through the gaps can be more easily noticed and cared for. It is harder to be anonymous in a small church.
Involvement and Growth
Small churches with a mission heart will more urgently mobilise all the gifts of the membership to build up the body and to engage the world with the gospel. Small churches also provide more opportunities for people to be trained and grown in leadership.
3. The strength of big church
Shared resources (People, Finances, Property)
Big churches have greater access to a wider range of resources, people, gifts and finances.
Furthermore, big churches are more likely to have more people with different skills and expertise and the opportunities to use these gifts to their best potential.
A big church is able to utilise and share these resources to benefit a larger group of people. Access to professional and expert resources can be useful in a world where quality and expertise are highly valued.
A big church may have the capacity to offer people with particular gifts opportunities to flourish and grow in service and leadership, which may not be available in small churches.
A large church provides opportunities for members to relate with a wider range and number of people. There are some ministries which are much more effective at reaching particular demographics when there is a larger number of people.
Large churches are able to support mission initiatives that would require more finances than a small church could afford. Therefore, large churches have greater potential to shape mission and not just support it.
A large church is able to build a pastoral team with all the benefits that come with a team ministry at the pastoral level. The leadership team is able to complement strengths and cover weaknesses of different team members.
4. The strength of being one church
Although Cornerstone consists of multiple congregations, it is also one church. Unity comes through more than just gospel convictions. Unity comes through significant relationships across congregations under a combined leadership team. It is expressed through a common conviction concerning vision, values and this church model.
The gospel unites all Christians, regardless of race, culture, socio-economic status, age or gender. The gospel breaks down these barriers that the world erects and enables true acceptance, love and respect for one another, for we are all one in Christ Jesus.
Striving as one for the gospel, members within and across congregations are also united together relationally in a significant way. Members of different congregations know each other, love and care for each other and continue relationship even outside their separate Sunday gatherings.
Cornerstone is strengthened by also being intentionally a multi-generational church.
Each congregation is under the spiritual care of its elders and pastor. The combined Session, represented by elders of all congregations, give oversight on values, policies, direction and vision for Cornerstone as a whole.
Vision and Model
While each local congregation is committed to reaching their local community, they are also committed to reaching other parts of the city by supporting new Cornerstone church plants.
5. The strength of a church planting body
Cornerstone is simultaneously a small church, a big church, multiple congregations and one church. The rationale for “doing church” this way is because it has proven to be an effective platform from which to carry out church planting.
A body of congregations that are united in the gospel, relationships, leadership, vision and model are more likely to commit people, finances, time and prayer for the planting of a new congregation that involves deep sacrifice for the sending congregations. Furthermore, a body of congregations provides a larger pool of people and resources to start up a new church.
When Cornerstone plants a new church the people can be sourced from all the other congregations. This means the burden does not fall upon any single congregation, significantly weakening it. As the burden is spread across the congregations, these are more likely to recover sooner and the new church is able to be established with the necessary resources to grow. This means that the Cornerstone body can be ready sooner to help plant the next church.
Commitment and Support
Sometimes it takes time for a church plant to grow to a sustainable size. As part of the Cornerstone body, a new plant is able to draw upon the resources and finances of Cornerstone to ensure its continuing viability.
The new church plant benefits from the wealth of experience, wisdom and expertise that comes from years of doing church planting together in Sydney.