After serving as pastor all these years at Northstar, I cannot count the number of times that people have asked me one question, “So, what did you do this week?” It is a pretty standard question and my answer has changed over the years. When I first became a pastor and was somewhat of a workaholic, the question seemed loaded. As time passed and I became more comfortable in my role I would answer the question with specific duties, like meeting with the trustees or the staff, some administrative duties, final prep for Sunday’s message, etc. Now my answer is simple and uniform: “something to reach those far from the heart of God.” It is my only focus and my obsession. That is mainly because of a wonderful couple of whirlwind years of seeing the lost come to Christ and baptizing children, youth and adults. Then seeing them get plugged into a small group, read their Bible, and grow in their faith. I would like to experience more of that. A lot more. That is why we do what we do, to see God glorified and His kingdom expanded.
I believe God has placed us in this specific community for a reason. I believe it is crucial for all of us to think about where we live as our mission field. Northstar is made up of people from many small communities and I wonder what impact we can have on Northwest Florida if we go into those communities rather than them coming to us. And then, what could our impact be outside of Northwest Florida. That is the objective and our reason for being as a church. Bold Love is the initiative to accomplish that objective.
The subject of Bold Love generates additional questions such as “What should I give to the church?” And “How much money should I contribute to Bold Love?”
Before I answer that question, I want everyone that attends Northstar to know how proud I am of the grace of God in you. You consistently give beyond what is expected, whether it be your time or your money. Although many of you have never seen this process of planting churches actually happen in your immediate area, you supported it. Because of you we started or partnered in several church plants as well as a second campus in East Bay. Thank you for believing in the vision of Kingdom growth.
So “what should I give to God and His kingdom” and “what should I give to Bold love?” As you pray and fast about your decision on November 18 on what to pledge to Bold Love, I would like to share with you some thoughts which may help you with your decision. I believe that God has blessed Northstar because, from the beginning, we have followed two core principles in the handling of money: First, we base our budget on what God wants to happen, not on what we receive monthly and second, money is a tool to carry-out the work that God has called us to do. We believe these things strike at the heart of how God wants money to be used as seen in the Bible.
My position on giving has been developed through my study of the Bible, church history, counsel from wise people, and personal conviction. Two biblical passages form my foundation on giving. The first is Matthew 6:19-24 and the second is 2 Corinthians 9:6-8. I encourage you to look at these passages as you pray about your Bold Love decision.
Based on these two Scriptures, giving is a reflection of our heart. Jesus tells his disciples that they cannot serve money and God. We will either place our treasure in material possessions or we will store our treasure in Heaven. Paul says that the Lord loves a cheerful giver. Cheerfulness is a condition of the heart. You can give out of duty or you can give from a heart filled with joy.
In addition, giving reflects our understanding of the Bible. 2 Corinthians 9:12-14 says, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.” Paul is telling us the Gospel is being made evident in the lives of the people of Corinth because they are giving sacrificially, cheerfully, and freely.
While those scriptures form the basis of my position on giving they don’t provide specific answers on how much to tithe to the church and how much to pledge to Bold Love. So, the answer to the question is that I cannot tell you how much to give to the Lord. There is not a number to shoot for, but rather a heart attitude to ask God to grant you. And then to guide you on what to do. My prayer is that Bold Love will encourage you to to give if you are already giving, or to begin to give if you are not giving.
I may have made some of you uncomfortable or even mad. It is not a subject I am comfortable talking about even though I am obligated to do so periodically. But please don’t miss why I am talking about it on the blog. I believe we are at a spiritual crossroads here at Northstar and God is looking to see if we really mean business about helping the whole world find and follow Jesus. I believe where we are as a church today is more the floor of where God wants us than the ceiling.
Bold Love will enable us to start new campuses in our area. It will enable us to reduce our debt and make necessary upgrades in our current facilities. And, it will enable us to look beyond our area to where we can serve abroad as God leads. Please prayerfully consider giving above and beyond your regular tithes and offerings to support the ministry of Northstar in all of the regions of the world where God is sending us.
God is looking to see what our checkbook says about our faith. I want to ask you not to just be a spectator, be a participant in what God is doing. Allow him to work in your heart. Allow God to speak to you and trust Him that He will do what he says He will do, as you decide what to pledge to Bold Love.