I have been doing a lot of reflecting about the past thirteen years at Northstar and specifically, the past three or so years. What God has done in and through our church over those years has been nothing less than a miracle. If you ever wonder, “is Northstar Church really making a difference?” The answer is “yes.” And yes, God has and will continue to work often in spite of us. Where we’ve tried to develop a strategy for the church going forward with our own finite understanding of His plan, we’ve often had to step back and reevaluate our methods. But time and time again, God has proven his faithfulness and blessed us where we’ve been obedient.
It’s not the easiest thing to steer a church of 2,000 people. What God is accomplishing through our church has required a lot of transition and change. We’ve experienced more transitions and changes in the last few years, than some churches experience in their lifetime. While our mission and vision have remained unchanged, we’ve had changes in our facilities, and our strategies to go where we believe God is leading us. While change is essential for growth, it is difficult to go through and even harder to lead through. It’s a delicate balance of listening to the Spirit and then using those things God makes clear to us to make sound decisions. Decisions based on the circumstances we face today and anticipating the ones we will face in the future.
I am the first to admit that it is far too easy to rely on our own logic and experience to determine a course of action. The Bible, however, urges us to “lean not on [our] own understanding.” As a pastor of a church emerging from a challenging season, I’ll will readily admit that “leaning” is far easier said than done.
That being said, God gives us the ability to think for ourselves for a reason. We are blessed here at Northstar to have a staff that is passionate about connecting people to Jesus Christ and routinely asks why not rather than why. We are on the brink of something big. We believe God wants to use us to reach not only our city, but our region and the world. It’s just the beginning, but before the rest of the story unfolds, God is asking us to be faithful a little longer with what he’s already given us. And to continue to address our challenges as best we can.
We are out of room.
Our main challenge is space. During our 10:00 a.m. service, for example, there is insufficient seating for adults, space for additional children, and parking. We are doing and have been doing everything we can to create more space. We have started new services, opened new class rooms and the theater, and started a new campus. We’ve asked people to relocate to a new service. The amazing thing is that every time we take a step to open up space God sends people to fill it up. Again, often in spite of us.
This is a problem. It’s a great problem to have, but still a problem that needs our attention. We simply cannot continue to turn individuals away. God is calling us to accommodate people and reach the lost, and sadly, we are not answering that call when people choose not to come because they cannot find a parking spot let alone a seat.
Logically, this is how we fix it in the short-term:
1. Consider attending the 8:30 a.m. service or the 5:00 p.m. service.
2. Park Off Campus (Hutt Insurance, Goodwill, Winn Dixie).
This does more than just free up seats in the middle two services. It gives children a chance to attend classes, and keeps visitors from circling the parking lot and leaving. Let’s give those individuals a chance to sit where we sit each week. Let’s give those children the opportunity to learn what our children learn. And let’s make an effort to meet those visiting for the first time and make them feel welcome.
Prayerfully, this is how we prepare for it:
It’s not only my responsibility, but also yours, as members and regular attenders of Northstar, to address the challenges facing our church. At its core, this is much more than size and space. It’s a spiritual journey about opening our hands to all that God wants to do in us and through us. His dreams are vast, expansive, and daring – and the stakes are the lives and eternities of real people who may be a parking spot away from hearing God’s word and accepting it. Jesus once used 12 men to change the world – imagine what He could do with 2,000.
• Ask God how he would have you personally approach these solutions.
• Pray that the lost come and we have the space to accommodate them.
This does two things: It shows God that we’re willing to make a sacrifice of convenience in order to further His Kingdom. And, it helps us realize in our hearts that we are attached to His plan.
I would implore us all to ask the Holy Spirit to guide us in this step of obedience. Then, to make sound decisions about how to answer this calling specifically. For many of us, it may be a very easy transition; as simple as saying, “No problem. I’ll switch services.” For others, it may involve a little more careful consideration as to how we might plan to execute such a change with our families.
In the end, what God is asking us to do is simple. All that remains is how we plan to answer His call. Thank you so much for your willingness. Greater things are yet to come. Believe it.