Changing Times at Northgate
What a year this has been! We’ve seen God do some crazy things these past 12 months. A new building, 40% growth in attendance, 215 people saying “yes” to Christ, and so much more. I’m not sure there is a church in the metro that proportionately has experienced what we have here at Northgate this year. At least that’s what one influential leader told me. Only God.
Things have changed at our church. Big time. Perhaps a little too much for some. Christians aren’t terribly fond of change. For right or for wrong, in a crazy, constantly changing world, Christians look to the church for stability and safety. In fact, someone the other day told me sadly, “This church just isn’t what it used to be.” My response: “I know. I get what you’re saying. I’m sorry you’re sad, but isn’t it wonderful what God IS doing?” They couldn’t deny that.
I predicted on Sunday, December 1, 2013 (our last Sunday at PACT Charter School) that things would change dramatically this year (http://vimeo.com/80799017). I’m sure few believed me. The energy in the room was palpable and the future was so bright. But our move had huge implications. Adding 300 new people in a matter of days inevitably brings change.
The past several months has revealed people’s level of commitment to Northgate, as well. Moving into our guest house met most people’s expectations. It exceeded mine. For some, however, moving into the building led to a sense of disappointment. For a number of reasons, it wasn’t what they thought it might be. A handful didn’t like the sound levels. Others felt displaced when their volunteer roles changed. Some left because of interpersonal conflict. A few moved on to other churches to avoid accountability. Many stayed on deciding that the mission is more important than their personal preferences. Pretty cool. Others left, feeling called someplace else. They left with my gratitude and thanks, even though it was hard to see them go.
Through it all, hundreds came and stayed. They love our worship. It stirs them. They’re blown away by our welcoming atmosphere. They even like my and the other pastors’ preaching! God is speaking to them in ways they never dreamed possible. The best part is, they’re changing. They’re becoming the people God purposed them to be.
So, I’ve been asking God, what’s next? Where do we go from here? Our mission remains: We are passionate about helping people become who God purposed them to be. And as I pray (and I’ve been praying a lot lately), here’s where I think God is leading us:
Worship. Our senior leadership and staff are asking God for an increase in our worship this year. Worship will become all the more a powerful, foot-stomping, soul-swaying continuum of music that rocks, relevant messages, prayer, praise, and healing. People will increasingly leave feeling like they’ve invested an hour in something hugely important.
Teaching. In 2015, we will not shy away from the deep truths of Scripture. The pastors at Northgate are not here to entertain people. We’re here to facilitate Holy Spirit change. Preaching will get bolder and bolder this year and God will do more.
Healing. We live in a broken culture with hurting people. God wants to do more healing at Northgate this year. I’m sure of it. In 2015, I predict that we will see even more first-time commitments to Christ, more prayer, more deliverance from the demonic, more gifts of the Spirit, and more signs and wonders. Come, Holy Spirit!
Saving. From where I stand on a weekend, I’ve had the privilege of watching 215 people say “yes” to Jesus in the past twelve months. But like I said, God wants to do more. In 2015, Northgate will increasingly become a place where "unchurched" people find Jesus AND their church home.
Loving. In 2015, I see a church on a mission of radical and demonstrative love. A church that feeds the hungry, clothes the poor, volunteers in the community, fights disease, protects the vulnerable, and lets loose compassion on those who need it the most. This year, God will teach us again and again to love the people outside our doors more than we love ourselves.
Connecting, Serving, and Giving. One of the challenges of such rapid growth is plugging people into community. I predict that God will show us new ways to connect people with one another and to invite them to serve and give. I’m still not sure what that will look like. There will be a lot of trial and error. Nevertheless, God has called us to it and we must follow. People matter.
So, that’s where we’re headed this year. That’s not everything by a long shot, but that’s north. It’ll very likely mean lots more change. Some will love it. Others won’t. That’s the nature of the church. Whatever sacrifices we make this year will be worth it. We’re not doing this for “me” or for anyone else. WE are not even doing it. Northgaters are just joining God in what HE’s doing.
I’m committing to a serious increase in prayer and fasting over the next year. Dramatically serious. Two hours a day in prayer serious. That way I can take on whatever changes and challenges come MY way. Join me in that in some way and be a part of making a difference in our church and world. Thanks for going on this adventure with me. And, if you're new, thanks for joining us.
For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. Matthew 16:25
Northgate Church is passionate about helping people become who God purposed them to be.