Broken and Beautiful


Thornapple's Visionary Plan

We wonder: What would it look like to be a church that names Jesus above all other names? A church that pledges its allegiance to the one who hung on a cross so that we might be reconciled across all human divides? how can we show our neighbors that we are for them because God is for them?

When you look at stained glass up close, it doesn’t look like much. When you step back and see the colorful pieces all together, the real beauty shines through and the complete picture is revealed. At Thornapple we're inviting the Spirit of God to shine out through our broken pieces, creating a beautiful image of who God is for our neighbors in Cascade (and beyond) to experience for themselves. We pray our neighbors want to be a part of this joyful and grateful church where God allows us to hold beauty and brokenness together in our reflection of Him.

Jesus is the key to joining together our diverse, unique pieces of broken glass and healing the fissures that keep us separated from one another. With our eyes fixed on Jesus, the “founder and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2), everything else fades to the periphery. The power of the Holy Spirit shining through us will bear witness to the one who has brought us together and who welcomes all to saving faith in Jesus.

Watch the video to get all the details about Thornapple's visionary plan, including thoughts and reflections from the Vision Team about the process and the plan.

Year Two focus: Remodeling Relationships

We long to remodel relationships under Jesus Christ; in a world that seeks to split apart, we work to hold together in him.

For this year we want to name one concrete goal: each person who calls Thornapple home remains in or works to heal just one strained relationship by remodeling that relationship under Christ.

Remodel is defined as “to change the structure or form of something.” In our world of relational difference that leads to division, we desire to have our relationships shaped by Jesus Christ. We can make a difference - both in our own lives and in our community/world - one healthier relationship at a time.

Take Steps Toward Remodeling a Relationship Under Christ

  • Participate in communion - this is the sacrament of the family of God, it is a table of unity claiming Christ’s grace
  • Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you pay attention to your own contribution to disorder in relationships and ask for the grace to be a peacemaker.
  • Read a book or article by someone with whom you disagree. List the positives you find in their work. 
  • Seek mediation or counseling for a particularly difficult relationship. Contact Pine Rest and say you would like to use the CAP for three free sessions. 
  • Reach out to someone who is experiencing loss, be the kind of friend you would like to have in a challenging season. 
  • Commit to getting clarity if someone says or does something you do not like. Perhaps there was a misunderstanding. 
  • Memorize Romans 12:18 ~ “As far as it depends on you, be at peace with everyone.” 
  • Read the Covenant Church’s resource paper, “Freedom, Unity, and Responsibility” 

Remodeling Relationships Sermon Series 

Access the Remodeling Relationships series on Philippians HERE.

Year One focus: Lamenting the Gap

Lament is telling God everything we know when things have gone wrong because of what God has promised; we lament the gap between heaven and earth and long to bridge the distance.

Take a Self-Guided
Tour of Lament

Lament 101

Check out this library of resources on lament.
Lament definition
Lament in more detail

Lament Sermon Series 

Access the Nearly Ruined series on Lamentations HERE.


Why does it say becoming "authentically and wholly centered on Jesus?”
We confess that other things have come into the center of our lives. While we would probably write a good paper about how we are centered on Jesus, our actions reveal that many other things have become more central than we realize: entertainment, politics, sports, news, ideology, comfort, convenience, control - just to name a few! We are invited to be honest and authentic with how other things have gotten in the way of Jesus. Instead of shame, this affords us freedom and the chance to recenter our lives again because as we center ourselves, we’re much more balanced in our approach to life.
How will that work out, practically speaking?
This means we are less attached to things like the translation of the Bible, worship style, our preferences in church life, etc. We recognize that we are a diverse group of people at Thornapple - always have been and always will be - and that rather than split hairs over things like partisan politics, ideologies, parenting styles, or our individual convictions, we will keep Jesus as far and away our number one priority.

What is “show our neighbors”?
American church life can easily look like private country clubs. Data reveals that churches of a similar age - approximately 40 years old, like Thornapple - naturally turn in on themselves. The church, as a structure, is an organization that exists not for itself but for the benefit of others. Christ’s love compels us to turn outward, to our neighbors, at school, on our streets, at work, on the soccer field, etc. In short, we are called to develop relationships wherever we go so that we can generously show the love of Christ to our neighbors in a real and ‘felt’ way.

Why now?
God always works in the concrete situations and places of people’s lives. This vision speaks to both parts of how God works in history - taking broken things and making them beautiful. In addition, it addresses the divisiveness in the American church and society. God is taking Thornapple in a particular direction for a time, which we estimate to be 3-5 years. Where will God take us after that? We will have to discern that in due time!

How do we get conflict out in the open?
This question presumes: (1) There is conflict among us and (2) It is somehow closed off. As leaders, we agree! There has always been conflict among God’s people as we read in the Bible, as we know from Jewish traditions, and as we study Christian history. The prevailing question appears to be: is the conflict harmful or helpful? That question, and the resulting answer, is largely unique to the situation. Yet, we are called to walk together by faith, living in the discomfort of the unknown. In realizing this space of discomfort, we will lean into prayer for discernment as we seek to cause as little damage as possible when acknowledging conflict. We will also engage with outside resources to help guide us in this process.