I really hope that you have had the opportunity to hear the emphasis and information regarding the Bold Love Initiative. While the staff and I are so excited to see how this initiative will impact God’s ongoing story of Northstar Church, I know at least a few people are probably wondering what this will mean as a church. After all, aren’t we we doing pretty well? Some people view us as a pretty good church already. Why not stay the course? From a business perspective that makes sense. But it is not God’s way and thus is not our way. God expects us to be radical, to be bold for Him. Hence, the Bold Love Initiative. Let’s look at what constitutes a great church and why we believe Bold Love will enable us to move closer to being the church God wants us to be.
What makes a church great? Obviously the answer to this question depends upon how one defines, “great.” For some, great means being large. For others, great equates to growth rates. Yet, others point to the music, preaching, programs, discipleship, facilities, and a host of other things in their representation of “great.”
There is nothing wrong, per se, with any of these things, but how do we at Northstar define a great church and how will Bold Love contribute to us being one? If we polled the church, some might think greatness is found on Sunday morning as reflected in quality music, preaching and friendly people. Others might base their evaluation on the outreach efforts of the church or the ways that the congregation serves the community. Still others might point to the way people’s lives are being changed. While these factors are very important and certainly add to the list of things great churches do and do well, the main ingredient in being a great church is missing. A great church is a place filled with found people finding lost people for a great God.
Here is what I know about Northstar Church. Reaching people for Christ is our highest priority. It has our undivided attention. I believe Northstar Church has God’s heart and a burden for those far from God. We believe that we can indeed reach the unsaved and unchurched. We also believe that we have the right message for the times in which we live and that people are being prepared by God to hear the gospel. We also believe that we need to position our church to best reach those separated from God. We simply need to build the infrastructure to turn these beliefs into reality. Bold Love is the mechanism to do that.
So, Bold Love is more than a mere fund-raising exercise. The ultimate purpose is not just adding satellites, or paying off our current debt. It goes beyond technology and maintenance improvements to our current facilities. Our primary goal is to win the lost. If this is not accomplished, Bold Love will not be a success no matter how much money is raised.
Marty, Is Bold Love about size, about being a big church? The average person would equate size with greatness. Yes, it thrills me on Sunday mornings to see our church filled several times a day, yet that is not what makes a church great. I know many small churches that I consider great. So, the answer is no. I am more concerned about the people that are not attending because they have not yet heard the saving message of Jesus Christ. Bold Love is about increasing our reach and opportunity, not about increasing our size.
Now I understand that in fact, the church could and probably will get bigger. But to explain the difference I will use an analogy. Consider for a second if your city had only one restaurant, it couldn’t serve everybody. People would get frustrated and simply stop eating out. More restaurants increase the possibilities of more people eating out. The same is true for Northstar. The more campuses we have, the greater potential for reaching more people with the gospel. Bold Love is the vehicle we will use to add restaurants, I mean new campuses. There is a need for more churches like Northstar. 70 percent of people in the United States have no meaningful church relationship. Those people are all around us, people like Alan McCurly, who I talked about on Sunday. Many people will not be reached without new churches.
Marty, to be great do we need more money? There are those who think that if a church is wealthy that it is a great church. The answer is no. Finances are a means to an end, not the end itself. A healthy financial position enables us to retire some of the current debt load and the funding of some needed maintenance projects on the building. Those things will simply give us the flexibility and financial freedom to discover, or perhaps be reminded of our role in this world. Again, Bold Love monies is the enabler of moving to the next level of God’s vision for us as a church.
Marty, to be great, should we build a beautiful building that reflects God’s glory? One large building that could house everyone in one service would be nice. But, it is impractical and a potentially dangerous undertaking. Although we looked at this option, we decided that large buildings are not the best or only way to use God’s resources. Purchasing and renovating an existing building or leasing a building is an increasingly more prudent choice. There are many available properties at costs that are a fraction of what it would cost to build a new building. You can occupy leased or renovated buildings quicker, as well as have ready made parking lots. There are other reasons not to build, but you get the idea. Big, impressive buildings do not necessarily mean great churches. In the early days when the church began, there were no buildings at all, yet the Jerusalem church was one of the greatest that ever existed. The church is found people, not brick and mortar.
In closing, let me remind you of the story of Moses. God called out to Moses from within a curious, fiery bush. He had been tending the sheep of his father-in-law’s flock, minding his own business, going about his normal day-in-day-out tasks, when God spoke to him from the flames. His life was different now than when he was prince of Egypt. Normal, not noble. Then God interrupted Moses’s new normal. He made it undeniably clear that His plans for Moses were different. Bigger. God’s intentions were for freedom — the freedom of His people, and all that was required of Moses was to obey God, listen to His voice, follow His instructions, and trust Him.
Moses quivered and doubted. He made excuses about why he couldn’t do it. He felt completely unfit and unqualified for such a task. It was risky. But God met Moses at his doubts. And the rest is history.
I believe God is calling Northstar Church the same way he called Moses those many years ago, although in a little less dramatic fashion. We were minding our own business, going about the normal. We have the same questions, the same doubts. God will meet us at those doubts. He has plans for us. We simply need to listen.