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A Letter from Our Teaching Pastor

I can still remember the first time I walked into my home church in Nashville, Tennessee. I had just been unexpectedly converted to faith in Jesus Christ. For over two years I had been wrestling with several passages in Scripture where Jesus calls His disciples to complete and total dedication to Him, but I simply hadn’t seen anyone live the kind of lifestyle that He was describing. I had assumed that complete dedication to Christ was something that God only called “super-spiritual” people to do. Total dedication was for the realm of pastors and missionaries, while everyone else was only required to believe that the truths about Jesus really happened and simply go about their lives. Finally, there came a point where I realized that I had never obeyed Christ by faith a single moment in my life, that I was constantly running from Him, and that I couldn’t continue to call myself a Christian while refusing to obey Jesus even a single moment in my life. In a moment of confession and brokenness, my life was suddenly forever changed. For the first time in my life I truly and sincerely confessed my sin, asked Christ for forgiveness, and turned to Him in repentance. And in that moment I realized that as a Christian I had only one purpose: to serve Christ with all of my being. Further, I finally understood the discipleship passages I had been wrestling with weren’t only for especially unique Christians. They were for each and every Christian. We are each to submit every aspect of our lives to the rule and authority of Christ. “I think I want to be a pastor,” I told my friend the next morning. “Maybe you should start going to church,” she replied. “That’s probably a good idea!” I realized. So I was off to find a church to attend in order to grow in my knowledge of Christ.

I had visited several churches in the Nashville area by the time I walked into this one, and from my first Sunday I realized that this church was different. The pastor got up in the pulpit and began to preach from Ephesians, and I remember thinking as he explained the passage, “This guy gets it! I don’t know what just happened to me, but he gets it! He knows what it means to love and follow Christ!” As I started to talk with the people that were at the church, I began to realize that they all understood it, too. It was a church filled with people that actually, genuinely loved each other and sought to continually grow in the knowledge of God. I knew from the very first Sunday I wasn’t going anywhere else. These people knew what it meant to genuinely know and love Christ, and I needed to learn from them anything I could.

Over the next couple of years I began to witness something that I now realize is sadly a rarity in most churches today: a biblically-based community of regenerate believers eagerly engaged in learning the intended meaning of Scripture and then lovingly applying that Scripture to one another’s lives. It was really a strange thing to behold. I watched Baptists and Presbyterians and Lutherans and Methodists and even former Catholics and Mormons wash up on the shores of this church, all refugees from their denominations with the same desire and realization: “I am committed to the authority of Scripture. I want to know what the Scripture says, and this is the place what will actually teach it to me rather than simply spout off their own opinions.” I grew. Those around me grew. I never wanted to be anywhere else.

And yet, the more I grew the more I realized that I couldn’t stay. I would talk with Christians who had been in the faith for twenty or thirty years before stumbling on this church and they would tell me, “Ryan, I’ve been looking for a church like this my whole life! You don’t know how lucky you are to find this place so soon!” I knew I needed to take what I had received there and share it with other Christians and help take it to other Christians who shared the hunger for Christ that we all shared.

The desire that started in me there in Nashville is really the same desire that drives all of the leaders at Cornerstone Baptist. We have started this church plant with the desire to glorify God by establishing a church of genuine, dedicated Christians who are committed to one another’s spiritual growth through the diligent study and application of Scripture to one another’s life. We are focused on pleasing God, not man. We are focused on building people, not buildings or programs. We are focused on learning the Word of God, not the philosophies and opinions of man. If these are the kinds of things that you desire, then I would like to personally invite you to come and worship with us on Sunday. We’d be glad to meet you as we worship Christ together!

Your servant in Christ,

Ryan Joki

Teaching Pastor

Cornerstone Baptist Church