What started as a Gospel-centered community group, meeting in a house, became a thriving and growing church reaching the lost and the broken in Nederland, Texas.
Cornerstone Church began by God calling Ryan Thompson and his wife, Arin, as they felt burdened for their friends, family and neighbors who were lost and in need of the Gospel in their community.
“We set out with this vision given to us by the Lord to start a church and partner with other great local churches in our city to seek and to save the lost, to make disciple-making disciples and to see our community transformed by the power of the Gospel,” said Thompson.
The missing piece of the puzzle
Dedra Curtice first came to Cornerstone at the invitation of her oldest daughter, Madison. On the first Sunday she visited, Pastor Ryan Thompson was preaching from Acts on the early church and what the body of Christ should look like. “I remember the Lord saying, ‘this is where you are supposed to be seated,’” Dedra said.
Dedra was raised in church, but was never discipled or taught the importance of living out her faith. “There was no relationship or community,” she recalled.
“I started attending Cornerstone with my family and began learning and digging into God’s word. The more I would hear and read about discipleship and coming together, I realized it was a big piece of the puzzle that was missing in my life,” Dedra continued.
A few months after joining Cornerstone, Pastor Ryan asked Dedra if she was willing to disciple a young lady in the church. Although she had never been discipled before, Dedra was excited about the opportunity to meet with Sally. They met weekly for prayer, Bible study and time to share about their lives.
Then last Spring, Dedra was offered the opportunity to go a mission trip through Cornerstone to serve the Amazon region of Brazil alongside two other church members. The church sponsors an indigenous Brazilian missionary through Texas Baptists’ Missionary Adoption Program (MAP), who they would be able to meet for the first time.
She began to pray for the Lord to provide the funds to go, and before she knew it, God provided exactly what she needed to go. The Amazon trip was life changing for Dedra as she learned evangelism strategies and spent a week ministering to the Brazilian people away from the modern comforts of home.
“I prayed and prayed from the time I knew God was opening the door to go that He would change me, that He would change my heart,” Dedra said.
God began to show Dedra her dependence on earthly conveniences. She read in the Gospel of John where Jesus says, “where your treasure is, there your heart is also.” Over the summer, God continued to convict Dedra about her shopping and spending habits. She decided to limit her spending and commit money each month to sponsor another MAP missionary in Brazil. Rather than spending money on items she did not need, Dedra wanted to send money to a ministry partner to make a difference in the lives of others along the Amazon.
Reflecting on how God has moved in her life over the last year, Dedra said, “My life has completely changed since I started being obedient to the Lord.” She has seen growth from intentional discipleship and commitment to studying and living out God’s word, to obediently serving in Brazil and now sponsoring another missionary to continue that work.
Dedra is just one of many whose lives have been transformed by the power of the Gospel at Cornerstone Church. Thompson has witnessed several friends from junior high and high school grow in their relationship with the Lord and celebrated immensely when his own father gave his life to Christ.
A disciple-making focus
The church launched on Easter Sunday in 2017 with 20 covenant members and now has more than 100 people engaged in their community groups.
“We have seen people far from God give their lives to Jesus, baptized and be discipled,” said Thompson. “It's been humbling and encouraging to see the Spirit of God at work amongst us and the fruits of Gospel ministry.”
Thompson described the church as passionate to equip and train disciple-makers to live on mission in their spheres of influence. Whether in their neighborhoods, the workplace or at the gym, members of the church are helping each other to see all of life as an opportunity to demonstrate and declare the good news of Jesus.
Thompson’s home congregation, First Baptist Church in Nederland, served as the sending church for Cornerstone. It was a special privilege to be sent out by those who he had served alongside for the majority of his life, according to Thompson. After months of meeting in their home, Thompson went through Texas Baptists Church Planting Center (CPC) training in Houston and began the process of laying the groundwork for Cornerstone Church. The CPC was valuable in many ways including a coach to meet with monthly and discuss challenges and successes of planting a church, and provided updates and reports to FBC Nederland on the progress of the church plant.
“Cornerstone Church is a family of believers in Jesus Christ that love God, love His Word and love each other,” stated Thompson. “Our hope is to be used by God to bring about the obedience of faith in Christ in more and more people for the sake of His name among all nations."
Currently, Texas Baptists has Church Planting Centers in El Paso, Belton and Tarrant County. Through gifts to the Cooperative Program, Texas Baptists provides funds for church planters to receive valuable training and resources.
To learn more about Texas Baptists Church Planting Centers, contact Paul Atkinson, Director of Church Starting, at (214) 828-5217 or firstname.lastname@example.org.