At Northlake we have a vision that says, “God transforms us as we worship Him, learn the way of Jesus, and serve the world.” This captures the essential parts of what this church exists for: worship, learning the way of Jesus, and serving the world. And it expresses our belief that as we are involved in those things, God is at work transforming us into the people He wants us to be, and the church He wants us to be.
The second of those three, “Learning the Way of Jesus,” is about letting the teachings of Jesus pervade our hearts and lives in such a way that it transforms how we think and how we behave in our weekday lives. It’s about seeking first the kingdom of God. It’s about making God’s priorities our priorities. It’s about taking on the character of Christ, and letting God transform us into the people He wants us to be.
For several months the elders have had a growing conviction that we’d like to challenge Northlake to focus on this part of our vision. For 2011-12 at Northlake our emphasis is going to be on Learning the Way of Jesus. This is going to be the year of following in Jesus’ footsteps. The common thread for this coming year is discipleship. Disciple is a word that means “learner” or “apprentice”. And just as a lot of us are going back to school over the next few weeks, the elders are calling for all of us to go “back to school” on what it truly means to be a Jesus-follower.
This theme is going to manifest itself primarily in two ways. First, in two weeks we begin a new series of sermons and Bible classes on the Gospel of Mark.
Second, we are revamping and revitalizing our small groups program around this theme of Learning the Way of Jesus. From September to May our small groups will follow a church-wide curriculum that challenges us to be Jesus-followers. Some groups will meet at the church, some in other places. Many of them will meet on Sunday nights at the church building from 6:00 – 7:00 PM to take advantage of our kids’ programs, but there may be others that meet on Wednesday nights … or maybe Monday morning at Starbucks or Thursday nights at Panera? What we want to do is make it easy for every person at Northlake to connect with a group of people that will help you to live out your commitment to be a follower of Jesus.
In the past, LIFE Groups have kind of been something you can do if you want to, but if you don’t want to, no big deal. As of this fall, the vision is for LIFE Groups to become much more central, more integral to everything we do as a church. These will become our primary means of Learning the Way of Jesus.
Please circle the date Sunday, September 11 on your calendar. That evening at 6:00 PM there will be a gathering in the auditorium of all of our small groups. On that night we’ll be re-commissioning our existing groups as well as launching several brand new ones, and if you’re not already part of a group, you’ll be able to join one that night.
Whether you’ve been a Northlake member for 50 years, or you just joined last week, I want to emphasize, this is for all of us. We think it’s that important. I can’t help but wonder: what would happen if an entire church decided to commit itself to deliberately following the teachings of Jesus?
The desire of our hearts is that we would be not only a church that proclaims the message of Jesus but a church that lives out that message every day of our lives, a church where it is evident to all that Jesus Christ is alive and at work in the thoughts and actions of His people.
For the Northlake Elders