Our mission is to help the whole world find and follow Jesus. But I’m sure the average person wonders if that is just pie-in-the sky wishful thinking. How realistic is it for a church of less than 3,000 people to be a primary agent of change in the world from our locations on the Emerald Coast of Florida? That is a legitimate question. It’s really easy to forget how big our world is. There are well over seven billion people across seven continents with an estimated 300,000 babies born daily. More than half the total number of people in human history are alive today.

Consider how isolated the world used to be. People in Europe didn’t know about people in China or America. The world was “too big” for them to find out. Then mankind began to see there were other people in other lands that nobody had known about before. But soon all that changed.

Mail systems were devised. The “wireless” was invented. Then the radio, followed by telephone and then the television, color television, communications satellites. and then the internet. You could travel anywhere in the world in about a day. But you don’t have to. People could all meet together “in the same room” at the same time, using small video cameras, microphones, computers, and the internet. So while the physical size of the earth is not changing, technology makes it appear that distances are smaller and times are much shorter. We live in a connected, online world where the smallest business can do business anywhere in the world.

Traveling a few years ago to Israel drives home the point about the world shrinking. I was waiting in Tele Aviv for a connection, surrounded by people from countries I never heard of, waiting on a flight to a city I’d never thought I would see. It was so different from Panama City, my neighborhood, and really anything I’ve ever known. I had no category for what I saw. I had a similar memory when I went to Kiu, Kenya.

Those trips and our mission to help the whole world find and follow Jesus serves to remind me of not only how big God is, but also the grandness of His world. Yet in the economy of God, the two are not disconnected. Panama City is simply part of the larger whole. If you think about it, we’re really just one people group among thousands on Earth, created by God for His purpose and glory. We’re those “ends of the earth” people Jesus told the Apostles to reach (Acts 1:8). And by sending out the gospel, they did reach us, over time, from almost the other side of the world.

So what is our role in this mission? How do we fit into bringing the gospel to the ends of the earth? Are we all supposed to become missionaries?

This is where most of us get lost. Most Christians support the idea of helping people find and follow Jesus, wherever they live. But how do we do that? God is fully aware that most of us will put down roots in our homeland. He also knows everyone’s not called to be a missionary.

But what does that mean for Northstar and for the people that attend Northstar? If you’re not a missionary, that’s okay. Be a faithful witness for Jesus wherever you live. Because if we don’t see ourself somehow invested in the global mission of God, than perhaps we are a bit nearsighted.

Continued in part 2.