I have a one-track mind. I can see the faked collective shock on the faces of the staff. It is true, I do.
I have a singular calling and a singular focus to help the whole world find and follow Jesus. Achieving that vision gets me up in the morning and is often the last thing I am thinking about as I drift off to sleep. Some people probably react to that by suggesting that I get a life. I believe you will never be more fulfilled than when you find something for which you would die, but makes your life worth living. For me, that is making a difference in people’s lives by pursuing them, getting to know them, and understanding, serving, and loving them in a way that points them to Jesus.
Andy Stanley says that leaders of the church have to decide if we mainly want to make a point or to make a difference. Making a point is far easier, but I want to make a difference. And I believe the members and regular attenders of Northstar Church want to make a difference as well. The question is how can we make a difference to guests and non-Christians that join us on Sundays.
The answer is coming to Sunday ready to do ministry. Sunday services are not merely a place to be ministered to, but a place to serve and minister. Northstar has always been willing to take the risks, and to accept the pain of change of winning people for Jesus.
There are any number of ways to do ministry, but I would like us as a church to simplify how we view ministry at Northstar. And that is to renew their commitment to loving one another, and in so doing, returning to what Christ intended His body to look like. When the world sees God’s people truly loving one another, they will see how the Father sent the Son as a demonstration of His love for them.
Love draws people in like a powerful magnet. A lack of love drives people away.
We praise God that people are coming to know His son at Northstar. As a result we are growing. But we also need to understand that people leave the church as well. Some leave because they move away, but some leave because for whatever reason they did not feel a connection at Northstar. It has become impractical to do exit type interviews with the people who leave Northstar. But when we do, the reason people leave is the lack of connection and because they did not feel the love they expected in the church. This is admittedly a tough situation. It is difficult to know when you are talking to someone or answering questions that this is a make or break situation. But there’s an important lesson here. In the end, this mostly comes down to mindset. And each of us needs to have a mindset ready to care for people, pray for people, and be the hands and feet of Jesus to them.
Let me pause for a second to say, please don’t jump to conclusions. These are isolated cases. We hear about the “love” at Northstar on a daily basis.
In order to achieve our vision as a church we must love unbelievers the way Jesus did. Jesus loved lost people. He loved spending time with them. He went to their parties. From the Gospels it is obvious that Jesus enjoyed being with seekers far more than being with religious leaders. He was called the “friend of sinners.” (Luke 7:34) My prayer is that Northstar is viewed that same way.
People instinctively seem to gravitate toward loving, accepting people. Jesus loved being with people and they felt it. If we love people we won’t have any trouble relating to them. If we don’t love people, nothing else matters. “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8)
I often ask new members what attracted them to Northstar? Out of all the people that I’ve asked this question, I’ve never had one person say, “The ‘what you believe’ section on the website dovetails perfectly with my view of reformation theology.” No one has ever said “It was your easily accessible, functional buildings” or “It was your full calendar of activities.” Instead, the most common response was “I felt an incredible spirit of love toward me that drew me in.”