11 Reason Why Northgate is Growing in 2011
Why is Northgate Church growing? Because God is growing it. Obviously. That statement, however, doesn’t really help other churches grow, does it? So, here are 11 things I see God doing at Northgate in 2011 that are helping us grow (in noparticular order):
1. outwardly focused. Northgaters tend to be “kingdom” focused people. We are more concerned with the people we’re trying to reach than the people we’re trying to keep. Though we'd like to keep everyone (and we want everyone to stay). . . "Inwardly" focused people either change while they’re with us or tend to last a short time at Northgate.
2. bible teaching. At Northgate, we walk through books of the Bible one at a time—line by line, verse by verse. It doesn’t sound very sexy, but people really do grow from studying God’s Word. We try to dumb down the language (no “churchese”), without dumbing down the concepts (no lukewarm religion). And we always make it applicable.
3. huge buy-in. Northgaters are really committed to their church—they’re all in! We have leaders coming out our ears (not that we don’t need a lot more leaders), and people help out whenever and wherever needed, whether it’s their "gift" or not. (By the way, does anyone really have a gift for setting up chairs? I didn’t think so.) Northgaters really believe that the local church is the hope of the world, and that our church is the hope of the community.
4. kidnection. Northgate has one of the best kid’s ministries in the north metro. I’m not making that up. We really do. I’ve been a part of at least a dozen churches in my life, and I’ve never seen any kid’s ministry comparable in a church our size.
5. lots and lots of new Christ-followers. Growing churches need new Christians and Northgate is probably 2/3 Christ-followers and 1/3 Christ seekers (just an estimate). We’d like that number to be more like 50/50 in the year to come. When people come to Christ at a church, they invite others to that church. It’s just that simple. Invitation continues to be our number one reason for growth.
6. prayer focus. Northgate’s leadership really believes in prayer. Probably ¼ of our staff and board meetings are focused on prayer. And it’s everywhere at Northgate. It is not at all uncommon to see people spontaneously praying for one another in the hallways at Northgate. There is a culture of prayer.
7. very flawed, but very dedicated leaders. Northgate’s leaders are very flawed people. No doubt about it. I lead the way. Yet, we all try to be open to God (to be a part of what God is doing, not what we’re doing) and to follow him no matter where he takes us (and that’s really scary sometimes). Northgaters keep an open ear to God and, when I’m not listening, they pull me along too.
8. cool worship. This is pretty simple. . . but our worship band is really, really good. Musicians rotate in and out, but most of our core band could be professionals in their own right (and many of them are professionally trained). Also, our music is current and a good fit for our average 32 year old neighbor. We pretty much have one style, though we do have a really solid choir that changes it up now and then. We’ve picked a clear direction with worship. No apologies. It isn’t for everyone (our worship leader, Matt Patrick, has dreads), but we LOVE it and I think God is pleased.
9. governance. I know this sounds boring, but governance is really important in a church. Our church governance is lean and mean. Jesus is the head, the staff leads the church, and the board holds the staff accountable (and trust me, they do. Rubber-stampers need not apply!). At Northgate, people influence the church through service and hard work, not politicking. And, unlike many churches, we make changes when we need to make changes. There are no “sacred cows” at Northgate. Well, there are probably a few. I’m just in denial.
10. warmth. Northgaters are warm, genuine, down-to-earth people. They’re the people you hang out with around the community and at work. They love Christ and they love each other. While I’m sure not everyone has a welcoming experience at Northgate, I think most people do. . . at least that’s what I hear every Sunday.
11. fun. Northgaters have loads of fun together! We work hard, but we also play hard. . . HUGE Easter egg hunts, outdoor worship, free rides at Ramsey Happy Days, whatever. We have fun (usually for a purpose), and not just together (like a closed society), but with the whole community.
Those are Northgate's strengths. God is reponsible for all of this--not me or the church. We have plenty of weaknesses for which we are responible. Believe me. But you know what they say, “Focus on your strengths.”