In 1997, I was attending seminary and training to be a church planter in Texas. One of the lessons we learned is the role culture plays in church planting. As I was learning that the best pastor is one that is indigenous to the area, God began calling me to go “home” to Panama City and start a church. But, Panama City had a lot of churches – good churches, and we wondered, “does Panama City need another church?”
We realized that if we were going to do any good in starting another church, it had to be the kind of church where people would be accepted just as they are – whether they had grown up in church or had no church experience at all. The goal was to create a relevant and different kind of church for those on the journey of becoming a fully-devoted follower of Christ.
The journey began with bi-monthly flights to Panama City to hold discovery meetings, where I explained how God was directing me and at the same time trying to gauge the acceptance of starting a church. Those meetings led to the decision to trust God and give it a shot.
The first gathering took place in a local funeral home in the chapel next to the casket showroom and embalming area. It was attended by 12 people. By June, attendance had reached 30 people. When we outgrew the funeral home we moved to Tommy Smith Elementary School and then to our present location. God was at work and the growth of Northstar was only beginning and continues today.
The obvious question is what else can you tell us about Marty Martin? Let me say something right up front. I cannot walk on water, or leap tall buildings in a single bound. I would describe myself as a follower of Christ, husband, father, pastor, strategic thinker, dreamer, and teacher.
My primary roles as Lead Pastor are to keep the vision for our church sharp and focused, to lead our church into the future, and to be the primary communicator for our weekend services in all four venues.
I don’t consider myself a typical pastor, although I do know that I am called to be one. And as such, I’ve had the privilege of being part of an amazing transition from a small group of believers meeting in a funeral home, to a church that is making a profound impact on thousands of lives today.
Why has God given me this privilege? There are two reasons that I can identify. First, I match the profile of the kind of people God says He uses. 1 Corinthians 1:27 says, “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.” Now while I don’t consider myself foolish or weak, I do know that God deserves the credit and the glory for our success at Northstar.
Second, though flawed in many ways, God knows that I’m in ministry for one very good reason. I love Him and want everyone to know the redemption, grace, love, fulfillment and hope that I’ve experienced in knowing Him. I love Jesus, and believe that knowing God is all about relationship and very little about religion.
The people that know me know that I am seldom static. I think of it as a sense of urgency. And the longer I serve, the more I sense the urgency to get going, to hit the ground running. I pray daily for a burden for the lost. That is the priority. That fuels my urgency. I never want to get comfortable and satisfied with the status quo in the Christian life and stop investing in the lives of others. Because that is the opposite of the Lord Jesus Christ. In John 9, he says “night is coming when no man can work”. Which means we need to take care of business now because the time is coming when we will not be able to.
In the same vein, I want to be a finisher, not just a starter. When we start something, we begin with enthusiasm and high hopes, but if we want real success we must be willing to persevere until we accomplish our goals. There are many great things happening within Northstar at the moment, and all of them have the potential to change lives. To do this, we must finish what we started. I want perseverance to be a hallmark for Northstar and it starts with me.
And I believe one person can truly make a difference. In Numbers chapter 16, Aaron stood between death and life and he stopped the war. Just like Aaron, we need to stand between death and life. There was nothing special about him, he was 100 years old and could hardly run yet he ran to stop the war. He was the most unlikely person to stop the war, yet he did and made a difference. I want to make a difference in people’s lives.
On a more personal front, my wife Angela, and my children Ashleigh and Andrew are the joy of my life. When I have time away from work I can think of no place I would rather be than with them. My greatest joy and fulfillment, other than serving my Savior, is being refreshed by their presence and being able to add value to their lives.
That in a nutshell is Marty Martin. I pretty much stuck to the high points. There were a few low ones, too, It’s been an amazing work of grace what God has done in my life. It’s really all beyond me and I am thankful for God’s provision for an impact that is more than we deserve. We look forward to the future to see how He continues to touch the world He loves through me and all the people of Northstar Church.
Part 2 – My Take on Teaching