The service begins with a greeting and then three or four worship songs. Russian Charismatic churches like their music LOUD! We have a special prayer for the corporate needs of the body and following this is a special time to recognize and pray over those who had a birthday that week. Birthdays for Russian people are important and so this recognition in church is traditional in most Russian Protestant churches. After the prayer individuals present flowers and gifts to those who had birthdays. Today we had eight people who celebrated their birthday during the week
Since Cornerstone is involved in rehabilitation services we often have a time of testimony by those who are graduating from rehab. This particular week two brothers graduated and each gave a testimony about the changes Jesus has made in their life.
This brother, who was a homeless addict said
"I have never had a normal life before"
This brother, who had also been addicted and homeless said
"Thank you church and pastors for giving me hope"
Because Cornerstone has many ongoing training courses we also have graduates from these other discipleship classes about every other month. Today we graduated eight people from the “Foundations” course.
After congratulating the graduates a brief prayer of rejoicing and blessing is prayed over them and we move right into a short exhortation about giving before the offering is collected and we sing another song. Finally, the children are all called to the front, prayed over and sent to Sunday school. All of this takes between forty five minutes to one hour.
When the children are dismissed it’s time for the preaching of the word and it is Pastor Dmitry who usually preaches, though about once a month and sometimes more we have a different speaker. The message is a good forty five minutes and usually longer. In many Russian churches there are two sermons in the Sunday service!
In Cornerstone the message is concluded with a call to people to give their life to Christ. People are asked to raise their hands and then invited to come forward to pray a prayer of repentance and the whole church prays this prayer out loud together. At the conclusion of the prayer they are welcomed into the body of Christ, given a New Testament, and encouraged to attend a new believer’s class at the church office. The pastor encourages church members to bring the new believers to the class and to invite them to a home group.
Praying a prayer of repentance
The service concludes with a final worship song and at that time it is announced that those who came to the church with the desire to enter the rehab program should come to the front to speak with the rehab leaders and make the arrangements to enter the program. Because the hall is rented by the hour the equipment is packed up and taken back to the church office after the service.
So, this is a normal Sunday service for us. The numbers change a bit from week to week and the groups being prayed for also, but every week we see lives being dramatically changed by the power of the Gospel.