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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Celebrating Christmas Eve as a worshipper

Uploaded: Dec 22, 2022
Pastor Steve Madsen will enjoy a fresh experience Saturday night—he’ll attend a Christmas Eve service as a worshipper.
Madsen, founding pastor of Cornerstone Fellowship in Livermore (with remote campus in four other East Bay communities plus online), retired from his pastor role Aug. 31. September marked 30 years since he and his wife, Brenda, founded what became the valley’s largest protestant church with a Bible study in their home. It also marked his 43rd year in ministry. He served as the youth pastor at Valley Christian Center (now Brave Church) for 13 years before starting Cornerstone.
We saw each other and caught up a bit at a Christmas open house and then spoke on the phone this week. He’s relaxed with his decision to leave, which he said was well planned. That’s good news because departures of founding pastors after many years is, by definition, challenging.
Madsen now is pouring his time into other pastors. During the Covid lockdowns, he started reaching out to discouraged pastors and offered to get together for coffee, a meal or golf. The lockdown became so politicized that pastors found themselves caught between those who wanted masks and sanitation or online worship and others who wanted the church open and worship as normal. It was no-win for pastors.
His ministry to pastors, who, as senior pastors, can be isolated and spend their time ministering to others, has been gratifying to him.
“It turned out I was able to help restore some folks,” he said. Part of his retirement decision was prompted by his growing ministry. “I was doing so much of this and really, really enjoying it and was ready to turn (the church) over to the staff.” He’s linked up with a non-profit so people who want to support the ministry can do so and receive a tax deduction
Covid and the lockdowns have changed attendance patterns at many churches. To Madsen, there’s no substitute for worshiping and praying in person. Cornerstone had shifted its approach, eliminating the rows and putting people around tables for discussion before and after messages. He observed that for the last 150 years or so, pastors have been preaching sermons as the sole teachers. He thinks the discussion approach is similar to the early church as well as the Jewish services in the historic synagogues.
Looking at what’s ahead for the evangelical church, he observed that the Trump campaigns and administration have resulted in deep divisions that he is concerned will never be mended. He thinks evangelical-minded pastors and congregations will find each and band together to build the Kingdom of God. Madsen noted that he fellowships with everyone and avoids taking sides. He thinks online worship is here to stay and that people who have gotten out of the habit of attending church are unlikely to return.
For now, he’s focused on serving pastors and genuinely excited to attend Saturday’s service as a worshipper.
Democracy.
What is it worth to you?

Comments

Posted by Rohan Gupta, a resident of another community,
on Dec 22, 2022 at 8:33 am

Rohan Gupta is a registered user.

"The lockdown became so politicized that pastors found themselves caught between those who wanted masks and sanitation or online worship and others who wanted the church open and worship as normal."

^ Wouldn't a benevolent Christian God have protected those who wished to worship in person during the pandemic?

"evangelical-minded pastors and congregations will find each and band together to build the Kingdom of God."

^ The 'Kingdom of God' applies to other religions as well but it is defined differently.

They are all the same.


Posted by Hasaan Massoud, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Dec 22, 2022 at 8:49 am

Hasaan Massoud is a registered user.

Our mosque was closed briefly for precautionary measures but the elders decided that there is infinite strength in group prayers and congregation.

Jesus, Mohammed, and Vishnu are brothers in arms sharing mutual goals for all of humanity.


Posted by Jason Wicks, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Dec 22, 2022 at 12:29 pm

Jason Wicks is a registered user.

"Jesus, Mohammed, and Vishnu are brothers in arms sharing mutual goals for all of humanity."

If such is true, then full acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community should be a universal doctrine but it is not (with the possible exception of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths).

When ardent followers of any organized faith allow religious dogma to replace their own thinking we are doomed.


Posted by Roger Massey, a resident of Walnut Creek,
on Dec 23, 2022 at 12:29 pm

Roger Massey is a registered user.

"Wouldn't a benevolent Christian God have protected those who wished to worship in person during the pandemic?"

^ Two possible answers...God either doesn't care or has no empowerment over the actions of man.

The holiday season has become more of a materialistic, consumer-oriented pastime that has absolutely nothing to do with promoting good will towards man or celebrating the birth of Christ.


Posted by Mary Lange, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 23, 2022 at 1:32 pm

Mary Lange is a registered user.

Traditional American Christian acknowledgements of Christmas and its true meaning (the birth of Christ) have been discarded due to PC constraints.

No more nativity scenes at retail stores and no more Christmas carols celebrating Jesus because it is now considered offensive to recently-arrived non-Christians (i.e. Hindus and Muslims).

This is so wrong from the standpoint that our traditions are fading to accommodate the sensitivities of non-Christian people.


Posted by Jennifer, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 23, 2022 at 2:01 pm

Jennifer is a registered user.

A lot of us still keep the Christ in Christmas.

I'm happy to say our church attendance isn't down, and it was well attended during the height of the pandemic... outdoor services. A lot of members are deep in faith. We've actually grown. Some of our new members found us online, and now we're blessed to have them as members of our congregation in person!

Merry Christmas!


Posted by Len Carlson, a resident of Diablo,
on Dec 24, 2022 at 9:00 am

Len Carlson is a registered user.

> "...full acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community should be a universal doctrine."

^ The Pentacostals and Southern Baptists might beg to differ. Among the Protestant sects, only the Unitarians have no inner divide on this issue.

>> "No more nativity scenes at retail stores and no more Christmas carols celebrating Jesus because it is now considered offensive to recently-arrived non-Christians."

^ Acceptance of American culture is paramount and newcomers should not have a say in dictating our cultural values and religious acknowledgements.

This would be like American tourists and expatriates expecting Middle Eastern and Arabic countries to change their ways to accommodate them.

Hogwash.


Posted by Mildred Decker, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 24, 2022 at 10:25 am

Mildred Decker is a registered user.

"...full acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community should be a universal doctrine."

This is an individual call. While we are all God's children, he frowns upon those who challenge his Old Testament mandates.

Forgiveness towards the wayward is more of a Christian ideal and a worthwhile consideration as no one is perfect.

"Acceptance of American culture is paramount and newcomers should not have a say in dictating our cultural values and religious acknowledgements."

Concurring...when in Rome do as the Romans do. PC considerations are getting out of hand in America


Posted by Kendall Ross, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 25, 2022 at 11:58 am

Kendall Ross is a registered user.

"...the Trump campaigns and administration have resulted in deep divisions that he is concerned will never be mended. He thinks evangelical-minded pastors and congregations will find each and band together to build the Kingdom of God."

Aren't the evangelicals contributing to the disunity of American society via their dogma?


Posted by Robert Aldrich, a resident of San Ramon,
on Dec 25, 2022 at 12:05 pm

Robert Aldrich is a registered user.

• Aren't the evangelicals contributing to the disunity of American society via their [religious] dogma?

^ In many ways YES...based on their anti-LGBTQ+ and anti-abortion advocacies.

Evangelicals have become a political force in America which conflicts with the separation of church and state.


Posted by Karl A, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Dec 25, 2022 at 2:34 pm

Karl A is a registered user.

The First Amendment, which was ratified in 1791, states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." However, the phrase "separation of church and state" itself does not appear in the United States Constitution.

People came to this country for religious freedom and the first amendment was past to provide protections.

There are many religions I do not agree with, but they still have right to exist.

All of these religions can be assumed to be a political force if their members participate in our political system.

Evangelicals are a large group - is Robert Aldrich advocating they should be banned?

Catholics used to be limited in politics (Kennedy was the first Catholic president) because people thought the Pope would have too much influence over our government.

In both cases, those speaking against these religions were just plain ignorant.


Posted by DublinMike, a resident of Dublin,
on Dec 26, 2022 at 9:42 am

DublinMike is a registered user.

Well, we certainly had a lively conversation with Tim's post. It is interesting to note that many participants were from outside the Valley.

To Mary: "...considered offensive to recently-arrived non-Christians (i.e. Hindus and Muslims)." Recently?? Where have you been? There are reports of Muslims arriving to America in the 19th Century, along with those arriving from Asia. For those of European roots that were born in America, we found hypocrisy in the Christian religion long ago. Having said that I do enjoy the non-materialist part of Christmas.

Cheers and Happy New Year!


Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Ironwood,
on Dec 26, 2022 at 10:08 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Steve Madsen deserves recognition and appreciation for his success in building a successful church in this area. Best wishes as he moves to a new phase in serving our Lord.


Posted by Jason Whitlock, a resident of Blackhawk,
on Dec 26, 2022 at 1:42 pm

Jason Whitlock is a registered user.

• "Evangelicals have become a political force in America which conflicts with the separation of church and state."

^ Evangelicals (if they are American citizens) have a right to vote but religion should have absolutely no voice in American politics.

• "The First Amendment, which was ratified in 1791, states that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

^ At the time of its writing, America was being founded by white colonists and the only two religions in America at the time were Protestant sects and Catholicism. The founding fathers had no idea or concept of Muslims, Hindus, Scientologists, Mormons, New Age followers and other religious faiths becoming a part of the American cultural landscape.

• "Catholics used to be limited in politics (Kennedy was the first Catholic president) because people thought the Pope would have too much influence over our government."

^ President Biden is the 2nd Catholic American president but chances are that we will never see or elect a Muslim, Hindu, Scientologist, or LGBTQ president in the foreseeable future.


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