LITHIA SPRINGS — God is still in the miracle-working business. In fact, there are miracles all around us. All too often, though, we are too tuned in to the temporal to see the supernatural work of God.
Cornerstone Baptist Church in Lithia Springs is really a miracle. Some miracles happen instantaneously; others take longer. That is the case with Cornerstone. It is a miracle in the making.
Ben Lang is Cornerstone’s pastor. He is a gracious, gentle Christian gentleman who is a wise leader, compassionate pastor, and powerful preacher. A native of Mobile, AL, he’s the ninth of 11 children born to the late Rev. and Mrs. Eural C. Lang, Sr.
Pastor Lang received Christ at an early age and was baptized when he was ten years old in his family church. He has degrees from Dillard University in New Orleans and New Orleans Seminary. He is married to the former Nadine Lemons of Hot Springs, AR.
From 1984-1996 the Mobile native served as a campus minister with the Georgia Baptist Convention (now Georgia Baptist Mission Board) on the following college campuses: The Atlanta University Center, Georgia Tech, and Georgia State University. Since 1998 he has also been a church planting consultant for the Georgia Baptist Mission Board.
Cornerstone was birthed as a mission church of Lithia Heights Baptist Church and the churches of West Metro Baptist Association. While still serving as a campus minister Lang became the interim church planter with Cornerstone in 1994 when the church had around 20 members.
Lang stated, “We received strong support and nurturing from the churches in West Metro Association and the Cooperative Program. When I became the full-time church planter/pastor in August 1996, the church had grown to approximately 75 members.
“Early on we experienced much of what babies and toddlers go through as they attempt to find their balance (teething pains, many tears, needing much attention, etc.). However, we were able to persevere primarily because of the partnership we received from our fellow churches in West Metro Baptist Association, the church planting groups at the Georgia Baptist Mission Board, and the North American Mission Board.”
Lang continued, “Our goal is to see lives transformed through the life-changing Gospel of Jesus Christ. We desire to fulfill the Great Commission in our day. We are fascinated by our ‘Life on Mission’ theme, which keeps us motivated to advance our Lord’s Kingdom in our daily life experiences.”
Cornerstone started with 20 members, but by 2005 membership had grown to 150. Today, the membership reaches 400. When the vast majority of churches have plateaued or declined, the upward trend at Lang’s church is a miracle in progress.
Even more significant is the fact that Cornerstone has been involved in seven church plants since its beginning. Lang explains, “We understand that healthy churches should reproduce through multiplication, not just through ‘additions’ to our own membership. We have assisted these churches not only financially, but with the members of Cornerstone being personally engaged in these church plants.”
Spirit of service, overcoming challenges
The Cornerstone pastor has led his people to become involved in the community through service organizations like the Pregnancy Resource Center in Douglasville, local food banks, homeless shelters, domestic violence agencies, local Douglas County schools in the Lithia Springs area, and blood drives with the Red Cross and others.
While Cornerstone has had its share of blessings, there have been challenges as well. Any time a church or an individual begins to have spiritual success it is almost certain that the devil will try to hinder the progress and thwart the blessings of God.
Lang testified, “During the early years as a new church plant, we had some internal conflicts that almost dissolved our ministry. These were dark days for us, because it forced us to take our attention off of kingdom business and deal with the antagonistic spirits existing in our congregation.
“However, the Lord was (and remains) faithful, giving us mentors and partners who helped us to refocus our attention on our primary mission/vision. A resource I highly recommend is a book entitled Antagonists in the Church: How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflicts in the Church by Kenneth C. Haugk.”
Host of ten-week summer camp
One of the most remarkable things about Cornerstone, however, is their Summer Enrichment Camp. They started the camp in 2003 with 25 children, but now they serve up to 150 students every summer. It is a ten-week camp that coincides with the Douglas County school summer break schedule. The camp is open five days a week, 12 hours a day – from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. and accommodates students from five years old to those who will become 8th graders in the upcoming school year.
The Summer Enrichment Camp is reaching students in Douglas, Paulding, and Cobb counties. Pastor Lang explained, “We provide breakfast, lunch, and a snack for every student through the Douglas County School Nutrition Food Program.”
The activities include daily devotion, chapel, study time with reading comprehension and math, field trips, guest speakers, fun activities, arts, crafts, social skill development, character development and life skills development, a study of Caribbean/African American history – past, present, and future, Bible learning activities, and mission activities.
This summer the camp had 33 paid employees as well as volunteers to meet the needs of the students, but the purpose each year is to strengthen family ties and assist parents in developing children who will make a positive impact during the next school year in five areas: intellectually, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially.
Pastor Lang stated that the key verse for the summer enrichment camp is Luke 2:52: “Jesus grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and in favor with man.”
“We have been able to reach many of our families through reaching their children, which we call ‘Champions for Jesus,’” Lang explained.
Cornerstone has developed a fitting acrostic for the camp based on the word “Champion.”
C – Created in God’s Image (Psalm 139:13-18)
H – Heart of a Servant (Matthew 20:28)
A – Active in Church (Hebrews 10:24-25)
M – Motivated to excel in school (Psalm 8:1)
P – Personally devoted to Christ (Matthew 16:13-18)
I – Imitate Christ daily (Luke 9:23)
O – Obey and honor Parents (Ephesians 6:1-3)
N – Never give up (Philippians 3:12-14)
It obviously takes a lot of work to grow a strong, effective, ministering, evangelistic church, but prayer, labor, faith, and obedience will often result in miracles. And miracles are becoming commonplace at Cornerstone.