UPDATE FROM NORTHSTAR KiDS: August 5, 2020

Northstar Families, 

We consider it one of the highest honors to be able to partner with you in helping your children find and follow Jesus! Because we take that privilege very seriously, the welfare and safety of children in our care in Northstar KiDS Sunday environments is our top priority. 

As we work through the details of reopening KiDS Ministry, we realize that there are so many details to consider and decisions to make in order to provide the best Sunday experience possible. We also value our volunteers greatly, some of whom are not able to return to Northstar KiDS due to their own personal health concerns, their job circumstances or the needs of their own children or family members. 

After meeting and considering all aspects of reopening Northstar KiDS, we feel the wise choice is for us to postpone reopening Northstar KiDS until September 13, 2020. This will allow us time to be better prepared, to ensure time for our volunteers to be trained with new COVID related policies, and allow your families to settle into school, whether that looks like attending in person or a new homeschool reality for your family. 

We thank you for your patience and trust as we learn and move forward. Please know our hearts desire is to be with you all in person on Sunday, but until the timing is right, we will continue to offer Northstar Kids At Home Experience each Sunday morning at 7:00am. Please go to Northstar KiDS on Instagram or Facebook for the new link every Sunday morning for an engaging presentation of the bible story and worship. We will also send a weekly parent guide that has simple and fun activities and conversation ideas based on the bible story or bottom line each week. We hope these resources help you as a parent have great age appropriate conversation with your children each week about what they learn in the online KiDS experience. 

Proverbs 16:9 says, “We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.”  With that in mind we are making plans to return September 13, 2020 but we also recognize that things change from week to week right now.  So above all else we are seeking the Lord’s will, but you can expect us to communicate with you along the way. 

Thank you for partnering with us to give your children the very best opportunity to grow in their relationship with Christ.

UPDATE FROM PASTOR MARTY: June 10, 2020

Dear Northstar,

This has been one crazy year! I had no idea when we planned for the teaching series, Decade of Impact, just how impactful the first year of this decade would be. It has certainly been a character building time! My prayer has been that God would mobilize the church in a greater way outside the walls of the building and he has been answering that prayer. I am so proud of the way you have taken your faith to the next level in the way you have continued to be the Biblical model of the church in spite of the obstacles that have befallen us. 

I’m sure you are as anxious to get back to in person gathering as much as I am! I want to update you on our progress toward having weekend services at our campuses. It’s going to look a little different than it did the last time you attended one of our physical locations. There are certain regulations that we will be following to make gathering together a safe and comfortable experience for you. Please know that your safety is a top priority. 

Our plan is to reconvene our adult services on all three local campuses on July 5. The annual At the Movies series will begin on July 5 and run through August 9. The reason we choose to do this is to provide an environment for families to be able to participate in services together since we will not have Northstar KiDS until August 16. The movies that were chosen are all kid friendly and chosen with families in mind.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • Our staff at all three campuses will be wearing masks;
  • The doors will be opened 10 minutes prior to the service start time (please do not gather outside the doors while waiting);
  • If we reach the allotted capacity (currently 50%) we will add more services;
  • We will greet one another with smiles and waves rather than handshakes and hugs;
  • If you want coffee, please feel free to bring your own. If you attend the PC Campus, you will need to finish your coffee before entering the auditorium (school rules);
  • Hand sanitizer will be provided throughout the building;
  • Feel free to wear a mask and/or gloves, if you desire;
  • Seating arrangements will allot for a 6ft distance between families;
  • Please stay home and watch the service online if you are exhibiting symptoms of any kind;
  • The services will last approximately 50 minutes;
  • There will be no Northstar KiDS environments until August 16;
  • The collection of offering within the services will look different. There will be offering boxes located near the entrance to the auditorium, and of course you can continue utilizing Pushpay for digital giving;
  • When the service concludes, please exit the building by following instructions from our staff and volunteers. If you wish to visit with someone, please visit with them outside to create the safest environment possible.

I look forward to seeing you on July 5!

UPDATE FROM PASTOR MARTY: May 28, 2020

As the government begins to reopen certain segments of our economy and society, some churches in our community have begun meeting again in person. This past week there was an announcement made by President Trump declaring churches to be considered “essential”. In his speech he pressed for governors to open churches along with other businesses that are being allowed to reopen. (We never closed! We just changed our approach for a time.) This was a positive move to protect churches from being discriminated against, however, there are many questions that arise from this: “Is it safe?” and “When will we meet again in person?”

Please know that our staff, Board of Directors, and Directional Leadership Team have been working through these questions as well as all the necessary details to ensure that when we open our facilities for in-person services that we are prepared to welcome you into a clean, safe environment that complies with the CDC guidelines for large gatherings. Some of the things we must include in this planning process are cleaning, setting up, physical distancing, how often and how many services we will provide, sanitation protocols in between services and the complexity of providing this in every environment we offer including Northstar KiDS (Birth-5th Grade). Your safety is our priority. 

We know that this brings up strong emotional responses in many people – and for different reasons. We hope that everyone will be patient and trust that we are making the best possible decisions. In fact, I want to thank you all for your continued love and support for our leadership team and me as your Pastor during these unusual and challenging times. You will never know how incredible it has felt to know that you stand with us and behind us.

What has been amazing to me is that we have been able to continue doing what the church (Biblically) does. We’re studying God’s word, worshiping and praying together, we’re connecting in small groups (online for now, and some in person), we’re serving those in need, and we’re learning and growing in our faith. We’re learning how to be resilient during difficult circumstances and we’re learning how to trust God with things we don’t understand. We have continued to give and support the ministry of Northstar together weekly. I am incredibly grateful for all of you!!

Here’s what we are currently thinking:

We will begin to work and move towards in-person services in the coming weeks. Right now we have tentatively set a date for June 28, 2020. I use the word “tentatively” in respect of Proverbs 16:9 “We can make our plans, but the Lord directs our steps”.  

Until then our Adult service, Northstar KiDS and Pre-K service, and Student service will continue to be a high quality, online experience and, more than ever, I encourage you to not miss these and to be a part of what is happening there. We will be keeping you updated via email and through our online services and website.

Let’s continue to stand together for our city, for the Gospel, and for Jesus our Savior. God is at work and we get to be involved with that! Let’s continue to work together to help the whole world find and follow Jesus!!

UPDATE: March 30, 2020

As of today, the Federal and State guidelines for social distancing have been extended until April 30, 2020. This also extends our Sunday services online until April 26, 2020. We are monitoring all COVID-19 related information daily and will make decisions based on guidelines are they are updated. Worship with us on Sundays at 9:30am and 11:00am online at https://northstar.churchonline.org/

UPDATE: March 14, 2020

In consideration of the public health concerns of COVID-19, we will not be hosting services, including Northstar KiDS or Northstar Students, at any of our Northstar campuses for the next three Sundays beginning this Sunday, March 15.

Worship services will be available online at 9:30am and 11:00am. It is particularly important for you to join us online this Sunday. In addition to our regular programming, we will update you on how we will plan to engage with you and your family during this season.

https://northstar.churchonline.org/

If someone asks why your church chose to respond to this health crisis by closing its doors, here’s my response:

We are loving our neighbors by protecting our neighbors.
We are not being fearful. We are being responsible.
This is what love requires of us in this season.

The Christian response to the Coronavirus is not, “I’m young and healthy, so this does not affect me.” Rather, it is, “Jesus cares for the vulnerable, so I must do my part to stop the spread of this virus and protect those most at risk.” Author Unknown

Thank you for your patience. We will do our best to keep you informed and connected.

Pastor Marty

March 11, 2020

“Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.” Philippians 4:6-7

We’re all aware of the evolving situation with COVID-19 around the world. And, we’re aware that our response as a church is likely on your mind.

HERE’S WHAT WE’RE DOING AS A CHURCH STAFF

  1. TRUSTING GOD: Viral disease is a fact of biological existence and part of creation. Keeping perspective and not panicking apply here, just as they do for all risks we face as creatures in a finite world. No matter how dire circumstances get, the Lord remains our refuge and strength, “an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). To trust in the Lord amid trouble is to experience and bear witness to the power of Christ.
  2. PRAYING: We must pray for the sick and the scared, for public health officials, for doctors and nurses, for researchers, and for caregivers. As Christians, we believe prayer has power, so we seek help from the Lord.
  3. STAYING INFORMED: The media is aflame with daily updates and it’s impossible to read, absorb and respond to every news report, Tweet, or latest rumor. We’re following a reliable list of information for educational, planning and management purposes.
    1. CDC on COVID-19: The US Center for Disease Control’s up-to-date resources on coronavirus.
    2. CDC Resources for Community and Faith-Based Organizations: The CDC has also created resources specifically for faith-based organizations to respond to influenza pandemic, which are applicable in this situation. As a church, we’re implementing this guidance.
    3. Managing Anxiety Around Coronavirus Coverage: The American Psychological Association created this resource to help manage anxiety around coverage of COVID-19.
    4. Addressing Mental Health Issues: This resource from the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Network provides guidelines for addressing mental health issues that may arise, and offers advice for messaging, including among children, older adults, people with disabilities, and those in quarantine.
  4. PREPARING: Because COVID-19 likely spreads like the cold and the flu, personal hygiene is very important among staff, volunteers, and participants in our services and those attending events on our campuses (washing hands, avoiding contact with the sick, staying home if you’re sick, and so on). We are implementing the CDC recommendation for hand sanitizer in public places, ample supplies of tissue, and disposable gloves for cleaning crews. We’re also implementing CDC recommendations on our routine cleaning practices to include all frequently touched surfaces in workplaces, restrooms, and nurseries, including workstations, countertops, doorknobs, and toys. In addition to these practical steps, we’re also doing the following:
  1. We’ve established a staff team that is meeting weekly to review all of our efforts in response to COVID-19.
  2. We’re in communication with local public health officials.
  3. We’re reviewing all of our communication practices with the congregation and implementing appropriate communication when appropriate – like this webpage.
  4. We’re adjusting our greeting practices in our services and encouraging everyone to “nod to your neighbor” as a preferred greeting over handshake or other common physical greetings.

HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

  1. Pray for our community and those directly affected by COVID-19. Pray for the health care workers that are treating the sick and those public health administrators making difficult decisions. Pray that God would protect our community from further spread of the virus.
  2. Reflect Christ. In these anxious days, the church (all of us) can shine as a light of hope, care, faith, patience and prudence. We can demonstrate for the world how our faith provides true assurance against worry and fear.
  3. Practice recommended personal hygiene. Wash your hands frequently. Avoid contact with the sick. Stay home if you’re sick and enjoy our online service.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body…Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Matthew 6:25–27