I hope you are enjoying our teaching series, “The Heart of Northstar.” Our campus pastors, along with Roy, spoke on what makes up the heart of our church. By heart of the church, I mean our culture: what we value most, the spirit, the beliefs, tenets and priorities of Northstar. I have continued this series because I believe it is that important.
The mission and heart of our church is never too far away from my thoughts. I try not to think about today, but prefer to think in terms of the present future, I view being forward-thinking as my main responsibility as Lead Pastor. Fulfilling that responsibility requires me to constantly pause, pray and meditate on the direction we need to be going in the future to fulfill our mission. I simply want us to be the church that God is creating us to be.
Preparing for the future is at the heart of who we are as a church. Let me explain why I believe that via a passage of scripture.
The verse I would like to use is found in the book of Joshua, but first a little background. Everybody knows the story of Moses who led the people of Israel out of captivity in Egypt and then led them for 40 years while they wandered through the wilderness. When Moses died, the leadership baton was passed to Joshua who led the people of Israel for 28 years.
After Joshua dies, the Bible tells us in Judges 2:10: “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.”
Moses led the Israelites out of activity and handed the baton to Joshua who led them in the conquest and occupation of Canaan. God’s province and power was demonstrated again and again during those years. Yet, it only took one generation for the Israelites to forget the true God. The book of Judges paints a sad picture of what happened to Israel after Joshua died. The generation that followed him and the elders who witnessed God’s great act of redemption did not know the Lord. Judges 17:6 says “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
The verse sounded a warning to me that even if we (the church today) are like Joshua and his generation, who knew the Lord and experienced His power, this is no guarantee that the next generation will follow in our footsteps. Psalm 71:18 says: “Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”
That is the heart of Northstar. We want to be a church where generations converge to enjoy God and change the world. We want to be the church that unchurched people in our community want to attend. We want to be the church that provides the message of Jesus Christ to the next generation and the one after that. One generation is going to be responsible for making sure the next generation understands who God is. That was God’s plan. People who are accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior at Northstar and at other churches will be the ones that are going to teach, they are going to witness, they are going to tell the story to the next generation.
Missing a generation in the areas where we have campuses seems a little far fetched, doesn’t it? After all, it’s a cool thing to be at Northstar right now. God has had his hand all over this church. We are viewed as a catalytic, energetic, growing church that God is using right now to transform lives for Jesus Christ. God deserves all the credit, but we are in the midst of a pretty good run as a church. It seems reasonable to think that the next generation that is coming up behind would continue experiencing what we’re experiencing right now. If there’s any church that has a good shot at capturing that next generation, it would be this one.
I’d say yeah, I hope so, while giving God all the credit. But then the realist in me would not take anything for granted. Because I would also say sometimes it’s when you’re in your greatest stride as a church, when you’re experiencing some of the best momentum you can as a church, it’s in that moment you need to be mindful that you’re only one generation away from losing everything you’ve invested in all the years prior. That is why we are always thinking ahead, because we can do more. We can improve. We can love others more deeply. We can serve more. We can use our spiritual gifts better. We can do a better job of following Jesus Christ. We can increase our faith. Philippians 3:12 reminds us “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”
The goal of ensuring each new generation knows God requires more than the staff of the church(s). It requires you. I believe the best way to accomplish that is to point people to a person, not a program. We need people that are head over heels in love with Jesus, and that champion a devotional and prayer life that makes others want to spend more time with Jesus. That is where each of us comes in.
In part 2, I will address discipleship as the heart of Northstar.