Cole has been a continuous gathering of believers since 1948. During that time we have met in a variety of buildings, some owned, some rented. This reflects our conviction that the church is the people, not the place, and that the building merely serves as God’s generous provision of a location to gather.
Cole is Elder Led
During these past 50 years God has raised up quite a number and variety of leaders. He has raised up a succession of godly elders who serve the body by shepherding it under the leadership of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ. These elders seek to lead, protect, feed, and care for the believers by prayer, by example, by personal involvement in lives, by creating policy and procedures that will lead to responsible organizational behavior, by overseeing the ministries of the church, by directing Biblical church discipline, and by stewarding the material and personnel resources of this church.
Pastors Equip The People for Ministry
God has also raised up a wonderful succession of pastoral staff. These pastors serve by teaching the Word and equipping the saints (you) to do the work of the ministry. Pastors are not employed to “do” ministry but rather to invest in others’ lives to equip them to “do” ministry and to help coordinate programs or purposeful gatherings where that ministry can take place. (Note that the current elders and pastors are listed on the back of your bulletin each week. Feel free to call them with questions and comments.)
Our Programs are Places for Individuals to Minister
A priority in all of our programs is personal relationships where one person can pass on to another what he or she is learning from God and His word. This can happen in gatherings of just two people (one on one) or in small groups (a Bible study, a family devotion, a growth group, etc.) or in larger groups. The goals are the same: to honor God and to provide a context where His Spirit can fulfill the Son’s command to love each other as He has loved us–in word and action. In other words, the goal of programs is to provide a context where the saints can minister.
During the years of Cole’s existence, God has used a variety of ministry programs to feed His people from His Word and give them opportunity to build each other up, using their gifts and resources. Again, we view these programs merely as opportunities for the believers to be used by God to minister to each other and to reach out to the lost. When a program ceases to facilitate true ministry, then it is time to be changes or abandoned so that God might raise up new opportunity for the saints to minister. These ministry programs may be “official,” that is, operating under the explicit approval of the church leadership, or they may be unofficial, just one or more saints responding to their Lord’s call to express His love through word and deed. It is a delight in this church that far more ministry is going on than any human leader is aware of.
We make no attempt to count or list or quantify all the ministry that is occurring, fearing that such a numbering may be a misplaced focus of pride. Yet we also recognize that some listing is helpful to those who wish to become involved in a ministry, and it can be especially helpful to new people. So we are giving you a partial list of some of the “official” ministry programs. Remember that the intent of these programs is for you a believer to become involved and use your gifts and resources to minister. You are the saints who do the work of the ministry, the building up of the body of Christ. These aren’t places for you to just go and be a spectator.
Involvement in Small Groups is Important
One more word about the importance of being involved in one of the small ministries of this church. Cole is a relatively large church. We praise God gratefully for the people and resources with which He has blessed us. We are no longer a small neighborhood church; but neither was the first church God planted. In Acts 2, right after Jesus’ ascension into heaven and His sending the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, Peter preached a sermon to the people in Jerusalem. In response God called 3000 new converts. The first church had over 3000 members.
As God continued to add to their numbers the disciples quickly discovered two things. One was that it was necessary to supplement the large gatherings at the temple with smaller gatherings in homes where people could get to know each other and use their gifts to minister to each other. The second thing they quickly discovered was that the apostles couldn’t do it all; they had to let other Spirit-filled men and women take real leadership in ministry (Acts 6).
In a small neighborhood church where God has blessed with fewer numbers, people could all know each other and effectively minister to each other. Here at Cole the same kind of warm fellowship and loving ministry takes place, but the places where that more fully happens are in the smaller ministries of the church. That is why it is essential that you not only come to the larger gatherings where we celebrate our worship and are instructed from the Word, but that you also become involved in one or more of the smaller ministries here at Cole.
Make the effort, get involved. And may we, “With glad and sincere hearts, continuously praise God and enjoy the favor of all people. (And may) the Lord add to (our) number day by day those who (are) being saved.” (Acts 2:47)