Our vision takes only one sentence to write, but will require the supernatural assistance of God to accomplish: “Help the whole world find and follow Jesus.” I believe the differences at Northstar in the next five years will be greater than the changes of the past nearly 20 years. We see 2016 as the year where we create more transformation in people’s lives. We are not just a group of locations, we are a movement of people who understand the local church is Jesus’ plan to transform and heal communities. We accept the challenge and we hope to raise the bar in 2016. We have seem some amazing things happen at Northstar. But we stay humble and maintain the spirit of love and realness by giving all credit and glory to God for our success.
Something To Talk About:
Our Vision for 2016 has been developed with an understanding that while the future will bring changes and many of them will be unanticipated, we must constantly focus on where God is calling us and how we can be faithful to Him. The scriptures remind us that “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)
First, a quick look back. 2015 was truly an amazing year. God has done incredible things in and through Northstar. We have all been humbled by the way God is transforming hearts, minds and lives this past year. And remember that every number, and every statistic has a name. Here are some highlights from 2015:
- 1,996 hands were raised to accept Jesus Christ as Savior.
- Of that 1,996 number, 279 noted their decision to be saved on the connection card, thus providing us the opportunity to communicate with them.
- 179 baptisms.
- Average weekend service attendance of 2,296.
- 4,719 people attended Easter services and 52 people made a decision to accept Jesus.
Now, onto 2016. Over the last few years we’ve been doing our best to pay attention to God’s leading. Both corporately and individually we have been listening for God’s voice and working to notice where God is at work. The result is our vision and best thinking. While what I talked about on Sunday is not a once and for all roadmap, it will serve as a framework for where we will focus our energy and efforts for the remainder of 2016.
- Raise the level of risk in our attempts to point people to Christ: Our number one goal is and will always be the salvation of the lost. As I think about the needs around us: broken relationships, broken lives, lost people, I am deeply burdened and my prayer is as a church we will feel the same way. I pray that we will care so much that we will influence others to look to Christ. We want to attract the unsaved and the unchurched, and people who want a fresh start from the mistakes they have made in their past. We want to build a bridge to people who are far from the heart of God. To that end we will start two new campuses this year. As I said on Sunday, we want to fulfill the Great Commission by spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the nations of the world.
- Refocus the way we coach people towards full devotion to Christ. We will seek to help people grow spiritually in 2016. We will also make available the necessary classes, group resources and qualified individuals to help each person who wants to grow spiritually achieve that growth. We will raise the temperature for life-on-life discipleship so it is normal for people to become reproducing followers of Jesus by owning their personal growth. We hope that consumer-oriented Christians will desire to leave their comfort zones and work on maturing in their faith. We want to help people become joyful, passionate followers of Jesus Christ. Let me make one more plug for small groups. To grow, it requires us to be connected to others within the Christian community. While some aspects of Christian growth and development are personal, most are communal. Each of us need to be connected with God, and with others. This is the fundamental purpose for small groups.
- Engage at a greater level the gifts and talents of everyone. Get off the sidelines. As you think about our vision as a church will you take a minute to prayerfully consider how God wants to use you — beyond the numbers, beyond dollars and cents. An all-loving, creative God wants to empower and enable you to make a difference in the lives of others. There is a place for you and there is a place for your talents to make a difference.
- Unleash unprecedented amounts of compassion into our broken world: Our world is broken and needs more compassion. The government cannot do it. We need to ask ourselves how we can unleash compassion in the broken world both where we live and in the places that need outside help? What is possible when we begin to live it out? We believe the best expression of the local church happens when our character is influenced by our faith in Christ, our communities are influenced by our love, and our culture is influenced by the compassion of the church. Pray about your role in making a difference in the communities we serve.
- Do you think the church vision is realistic or unrealistic? Why?
- How would you rate your passion for the lost?
- How do you define a disciple? What are the benchmarks you use?
- Have you taken all the Growth Track classes? If not, why not?
- What comes to your mind when someone says, “spiritual gifts?” Why do some Christians fear this? Do you? If so, why? Did you ever wonder why you are given a gift?
- What is your thoughts on the whole idea of compassion?
- Pray about your role in the vision for Northstar in 2016.
Take One Thing Home with You
There are people all around you who need Jesus. He wants to use you to reach them. In order to stay sensitive to those far from the heart of God we need to: Remember that we live in a lost and dying world and it is our responsibility to try to reach those far from the heart of God. Look for opportunities that God presents you.
On Sunday, I asked you to choose at least one person today to talk to about their spiritual need. We all have such a person, but we don’t know exactly how to go about it. The person may not have any religious background and are living a life completely different than yours. They may seem happy. In fact they may be happy in their minds.
Start by praying that they would be drawn to Christ and be convicted of their sin and their need for Christ. Pray that God would open doors for you to minister to them, to share your story, and begin investing in a relationship with them. Pray for their salvation. We must make reaching people for Christ our highest priority. We need to hear the wake-up call of the lost and position our lifestyle to reach them. We need God’s heart and a burden for those far from God.