Stay out of the pews if you can’t fill the plate?


27 years ago, when we came to Millersville, Pennsylvania to plant a Church, a cynical pastor of another Church told me, “You have to do weird things to get students to come to Church.” This was probably his excuse for not impacting the campus. As a young pastor, I was very disappointed by this older pastor’s sarcastic attitude. We were at a “Meet the local Pastors” event hosted by the Intervarsity Fellowship on campus! I left there determined to learn how to perfect the art of being weird! Actually, we found that authentic love is what is needed. What’s so weird about that?

I also heard a rumor that town Churches at the time didn’t want them (students) in the pew if they can’t put it in the plate (offering plate).” I was so saddened by this thought that I made a commitment to God:

“Lord, we’ll do everything possible to fill the pews with students and trust You to fill the plates.”

Not many years later, the pews of our little old Church were packed with students and we received almost 2 million dollars from an anonymous source! We’ve had the privilege over almost 3 decades of impacting thousands of students for Christ! We’ve also been blessed by the ministry of many students to our Church family!

Our ministry to students has expanded to include significant involvement with elementary and High School students as well as outreach to other campuses in our area. But my urgent prayer is that we will continue and strengthen our love for the students of our beautiful college town! Please pray with me! 

A Big Dream: 

When we came to the town of Millersville, we had 7 people and a little old Church building held together by three steel bars. The odds seemed to be clearly stacked against us. We came with big dreams for serving a great God. We learned a lot in those years.  God schooled us through lessons in patience, suffering, sacrifice, joy, sorrow, loneliness, disappointment and encouragement. A local Christian businessman once noted my disappointment at some plans that did not come through as I had hoped. He said to me, “Whenever you have a disappointment, drop the “d” and replace it with “H” — Hisappoinment! Great perspective! I needed to hear it.

Since those early days, we purchased a large property four miles out-of-town to expand our growing Church. We now have beautiful facilities while maintaining our goal of being debt-free. Yet we retained our site within walking distance to the University and expanded it to include a third property. We have a little more than an acre of property strategically located in the center of the University town.

My dream is to replace the three older buildings on this property with a Student Ministry Center. This would probably require closer to 3 million dollars. Impossible? Considering the fact that we need about 4-5 million dollars to facilitate our growth at our Church site, it feels daunting. But God…. 

In my years of ministry, we have often had the odds stacked against us. This is just another reminder of the truth that, “the surpassing power is from God and not from us” (II Corinthians 4:7)

Please pray with me!

Steve Cornell 

About Wisdomforlife

Just another worker in God's field.
This entry was posted in Church building, Church growth, Church Planting, Cornell Family, Life of a pastor, Local Church, Ministry to young singles, Ministry updates, Student Ministry, University students. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s