Within weeks from now, we will share our calling and passion to begin a new church in the Springfield/Callaway/Parker/Tyndall communities. I have to admit, the idea engages my imagination and stirs my heart. But, it also triggers my pragmatic side. Because as the lead pastor, I need the wisdom on how to run our church, how to create change, and how to get things done. But, I also believe that it’s all about God and not about us and our plan and agenda. “Does God really care about planning? Doesn’t planning just constrain God?”
In Proverbs 16:3 we read, “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.” In other words, you can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord. These verses should challenge us to be cautious as we make plans. Since the only plan that will succeed-is one rooted in God’s purposes, we continually check that our plans serve God’s purpose.
All of us are guided by what we value. Our decisions about how we spend our time and money reflect what we value. The same is true for Northstar Church. What we value is reflected in what we do. And what we seek to do is win those far from the heart of God, one person at a time.
That’s what Northstar East Bay is all about. It is an exciting proposition. But, there are challenges. There is the tension that underlies all change for one thing. What if things don’t go as well after we do this? There is always the potential for making things worse by changing a winning formula. There is the fear of the unknown. The same fear a bride and bridegroom, the new business owner, the new home buyer, and the lead pastor feels when making a major decision.
The main and the overriding risk short-term is financial. A fact that we don’t ignore or ignore sharing with the members of our church. We’ve always trust in the fact that if it is God’s will it is God’s bill. And while the money is secondary, not primary, I want you to be aware of the financial realities and implications of opening a second location.
Think of it this way. Imagine going to your spouse and not only saying, “Honey, God has called us to start a church,” but also adding, “By the way, how do you feel about emptying our retirement fund to do it?” There is the possibility of doing just that as we start the countdown to the opening East Bay. I am assured that this will not be the only time we will be forced to step out in faith as we chase the 10 year vision for 25 campuses and 25,000 people God has given us!
Northstar’s East Bay Campus will require a $150,000 investment to open. That amount includes hiring a campus pastor, a worship pastor, and equipment and supplies for kids and adult environments. And that amount will grow as the campus grows and our awareness of the communities needs increases, but we have the opportunity to support it at its infancy.
That is a lot of resources, but not nearly what was needed a few months ago. God has opened some doors in the interim. Buying land and building buildings in most areas today, is expensive. God eliminated the immediate concern by finding space in a high school. Using the high school allows our church to plant a presence without having to replicate a lot of physical resources. Live worship teams, pastors, and volunteers will be at Rutherford every Sunday. And the messages will be shown live on a big screen, via simulcast technology. The Rutherford location will duplicate the Northstar experience.
My pragmatic side aside, here is why we are willing to take the financial risk. We can’t sit on the sideline and serve existing Christians. As long as there are people that have not heard about the gospel of Jesus Christ, then there is a need for the body of Christ to continually expand. The person who has the biggest church in our own backyard and surrounding area is the devil. A recent poll said only 42% of Bay County has a place of worship they attend. That is unacceptable to God and to His church. Jesus did not suffer as much as He did, for just 42% of an area’s population. The majority of our county does not attended a church of any kind. Because God values every person, we believe that every person should have the opportunity to know Him.
To me that is worth any risk.