Who We Are

Introduction:
At Northstar, we want to be known by what we’re for, rather than what we’re against. We’re for loving God. We’re for loving people. We’re for bringing God and people together as Jesus commanded. And we’re for helping people mature in their faith. Northstar exists to bring people into a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, to draw them into a Christ-centered community, and to help them grow in their faith. That’s what drives every decision we make and guides every conversation we have. This is what we’re all about. That is who we are.

Something To Talk About:
In the message I talked about four core statements which I believe, in combination, provide a fairly clear picture of Northstar as a church.

1. Northstar is a faith-filled, big thinking, bet the farm risk taker. We will never insult God with small thinking or safe living. We try to make it a habit of asking God for the impossible, believe God for the miraculous and dream that God would do more in our lives. We believe you cannot play it safe and please God. So we will take risks. We have to because we believe that God is on a mission at Northstar and all over the world. God is not resting alone, content, and disengaged. If we truly wish to imitate our Savior, we too need to embrace the risk and dependence that love requires. We want to join with God as “fellow workers” or “co-laborers” on that adventure. And that my friends is risky business.

2. We are not spiritual consumers – we are spiritual contributors. The church does not exist for us. We are the church, and we exist for the world. That means we are not here to be takers. We are not here just to take up space. We are meant to be contributors. Christianity is not just another brand that we consume along with McDonalds, Apple, and Ford, to express our identity. The church is not here to meet our needs. The church actually isn’t about you. It’s about Jesus. It’s His church. He came for it. He died for it. He redeemed it. He continues to build it. And one day, He’ll come back for it. It’s His. Not only do we serve in His church, you serve as His church in the world. Our call is not just to be a disciple, but to make disciples.

3. We will lead the way with irrational generosity.We truly believe it is more blessed to give than to receive. Isaiah 32:8 says, “But generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity.” (NLT) Generous people plan to do what is generous which is why we gave over $250,000 to outreach and mission programs. We have more than our fair share of members and regular attenders that generously share all that God has blessed us with so that the world may see His love through our commitment to the local church. If money and generosity are both a thermometer and thermostat of our faith, then I think it’s fair to say that our church is growing spiritually every year. Acts 4:33-34 says, “…and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them…”

4. We will do anything short of sin to reach people who don’t know Christ. To reach people no one else is reaching, we’ll do things no one is doing. When it comes to reaching people with the gospel, we are willing to to do just about anything. Seriously. We will run with scissors. We will get out of our comfort zones. We will change whatever we need to change to be more effective. We will have a sense of urgency or we will have patience. We will break rules. We will find better ways to have dialogue. We believe that if Christ left the comfort of Heaven and clothed Himself in   flesh in order to reach us, we should be willing to go to whatever extents it takes to reach those in our community He died for. Our “end game” is not large audiences, but thriving communities of disciples.

Questions:
1. Do you take risks for God? Why or why not?
2. How would you rate your faith? What kinds of specific fears or doubts are holding back your complete faith in God? What step could you take to strengthen that trust? What faith-filled step will you take this week?
3. How would you rate yourself in a consumer-to-contributor scale? Why? What needs to change to move the needle toward the contributor side of the scale? How can I exchange my focus from where I am to where I am going?
4. Do you believe you are using your spiritual gifts? What step will you take this week to serve in our church?
5. Share a time when you felt blessed from giving to others. How does it compare to other things that bring you joy? What would be a first step for you to become known as irrationally generous?

Take One Thing Home With You:
God is doing great things in our church, and God is doing great things through our church. We had 521 people make first time commitments to Jesus Christ (as noted on their Connection Cards) while approximately 2,300 raised their hand to accept Jesus Christ in our services. We baptized 186 people. Our average attendance was 2,285 people. On Easter weekend, 4,920 people attended one of our four campuses and 52 people were saved. Those impressive numbers notwithstanding, here is what I know. We can’t raise your children. We can’t fix your marriage. What we can do is partner with you in those things. We’ll teach you how to raise your children, love your spouse, and impact your community. We’ll partner with you. But we want to empower you.

Capturing God’s vision for you for 2015 requires that you exchange your focus from where you are to where you are going. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jesus did not come into this world, your world and our world just for the assurance of Heaven. Yes, if you accept Christ you will participate in the kingdom of Heaven. The point is this: If I see the future, I will live more intentionally and participate in that future.

Here is my hope for you in 2015. That you will choose to participate in what is going to happen later on right now, in intentional and intelligent ways. That you will envision a promised future that God offers you. And once you have discovered it, that you participate in it. Because the bottom line is: God does not just dangle a future, he gives us a future that should inspire us to participate.