For 16 years, Northstar has been growing and then growing some more. Like ripples in the water, our impact has spread wider and wider. I believe that this has been just the beginning of what we can do to help people find and follow Jesus. John 14:12 says “ Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

We are here to do the works that Jesus did and remarkably, He tells us we will do “even greater things than these.” There are greater things to be done in our communities. We live in a world where people are heading toward an eternity without God. Even within Panama City, there are thousands of people who have not heard the good news. Those greater things are the opportunities we have to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ. So get ready Northstar for the greatest year yet.

Some of you are probably asking an obvious question – “how can anyone do greater than Jesus?” The answer is simple. Jesus is saying greater in scope, not in size; greater in quantity, not in quality; greater mathematically, but certainly not in majesty.

And in the following verses of chapter 14, He tells them how. The Father is sending us the Holy Spirit to live and love in and through us in order to accomplish this God-sized vision.

That is exactly what we, as Northstar are called to do by faith in 2014. God has opened incredible doors of opportunity to reach Panama City and beyond. We will continue to “help people find and follow Jesus” across our city and around the world. We will, by His grace, launch new campuses starting with Pensacola in February 2014. In addition to Pensacola, which opens in February, we are exploring several other possible locations and interviewing potential campus pastors to serve in those locations. We are currently in the due diligence phase of these new locations and you will hear more about them as the locations, plans and dates crystallize.

Part of helping people find and follow Jesus is connecting them to a Northstar Group and providing more opportunities to learn about their walk with God. Something exciting we have been working on is releasing all of our classes via video to every location. Normally you would be required to drive to the Panama City Campus to attend a class. Now, you can receive the same great classes (Maximizing Your Spiritual Growth and our Budget Workshop) at the campus you attend.

This Sunday, I will kick off a teaching series called “Simplify.” This series will examine how we can simplify our busy, complicated lives. We will delve into the things that drain and energize us, how to simplify our schedule, and finances. We’re excited about this series and are praying it will help those of us who’ve never let God cut through the clutter of our lives. I hope you will join us and invite your friends and family to Northstar for this series.

2013 included great things for our Student Ministry. Sam Brown has been doing wonderful things with our student ministry since taking the reigns in October at the Panama City Campus. Panama City Beach Campus was our first location to launch a student ministry for their campus this past Fall and our East Bay campus is hosting their first student small group this spring. We are preparing for the biggest and best all campus student Camp ever in the Summer of 2014! This isn’t some boring Bible study. You’ll experience a real message, but we will have  a whole lot of fun as well. Our band is phenomenal, the energy is intense, and you will learn things that will change your life. Watch out for more information and sign ups.

Mission trips are planned for 2014 as we work to see the gospel advance, lives changed, and entire communities transformed. A medical and student trip is planned to Qui, Kenya and we continue our partnership with 410 Bridge. This is a wonderful opportunity to go on a short mission trip and personally impact the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ there. Also, we are conducting an exploratory mission trip to Guatemala in hopes of forming a partnership closer to home. This may be the sight of our first International campus.

I believe in the old saying: “Everything rises and falls on leadership.” And as our church pursues our vision, we need more homegrown leaders. It’s not a novel idea. In fact, we have clearly seen the need to equip new leaders for some time. And in our globalized society, it is even more important. If we are going to continue our current growth curve, we’re going to need a lot more leaders around. I encourage you to think about leadership roles in our church and talk to one of the Pastor’s if you feel so led.

The work God did at Northstar in 2013 was amazing. There is no other way of describing His work in our church. But we know there’s much more to do in 2014.  We will open one or more campuses in 2014. We will expand our outreach. We will deliver teaching messages that will impact your life. We will fine-tune some of our programs.  We will develop new leaders. But having said all that, my prayer is that 2014 will be our most evangelistic year in the history of Northstar Church—and I ask that you pray with us.

I would remind us all, as Job reminded himself when things seemed hard:

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted.” — Job 42:2