My first experience with Northstar Church came about six years ago. It was only three weeks after I arrived in Blacksburg to be the local soccer club director and assistant coach with the men’s soccer team at Virginia Tech.
We had just finished up pre-season training and were starting to hold individual meetings with players to discuss where they stood with us as a staff, how they were fitting in with the team, how social life was going, how they were spending their weekends, etc. We had a large group of freshmen at the time and I was just getting to know them.
Being a new coach here and not having recruited these players, I barely knew where they were from, much less where they stood spiritually. Much to my surprise, the boys told us that they were actually going to church on Sunday (their one day off each week). Not something we typically hear.
Every one of the freshmen said they were going to a church called Northstar. Being immensely involved with what our athletes do on a daily basis, from workout routines, class schedules, study halls, and diets, it was important to us as a staff to find out how our new players were being fed spiritually. That afternoon, we walked right into the Northstar office and asked to see the leadership.
Unfortunately for Cody Davenport (our former worship pastor), Jeff wasn’t in the office at the time. So he may have regretted saying, “Is there anything I can do for you?” And the grilling began.
We asked questions about salvation, the Trinity, if the Bible was God’s word. Any question that would make a young pastor sweat a bit, we asked. And he answered with no hesitations. Northstar was a Bible believing and teaching church and I felt comfortable with my boys attending.
My second experience with Northstar was about two years later. I had bounced around multiple churches, exploring the different options in the New River Valley and hadn’t quite settled in on one. There are plenty of good churches in the area, and I enjoyed visiting most of them, but I was looking for a few things in particular.
First off, I wanted a Bible teaching church where the pastor preached on the word of God and didn’t shy away from those words.
Second, I wanted a church with people from all walks of life: young and old, short and tall, big and small.
I was looking for a church with diversity where the people had real world problems and a desire to fight their sin. A church that was welcoming to strangers and loved on one another and, at the same time, didn’t hold back from God’s truth. A church that loved Jesus and believed in His power and glory.
Finally, I was also looking for a church that wasn’t defined by its walls, but by its people as the body of Christ and that believed that their work was not done only on Sundays.
So, not having found exactly what I wanted yet, I decided to see what my players were up to on Sunday and came to a Northstar service. It was at that first service I heard Jeff speaking on Kings and Chronicles (I heard him speaking on that for quite a long time) and preaching straight from the word. Before the service, we actually broke up into small groups, which a couple invited me into, to pray for the local church community and for each other before Jeff preached. I was already beginning to understand why my players enjoyed coming and it wasn’t just for the donuts and coffee.
It was soon after attending Northstar for the first time that I met a lovely young lady named Kimberlee. Growing up with an atheist grandfather and a mother that had ill feelings towards the “Church,” Kimberlee had hesitation when I asked her to join me. After long walks and a few very deep conversations, she agreed to attend one morning with me.
It was there at Blacksburg Middle School that Kimberlee started opening up her heart to the Lord. We would leave and she would have a ton of questions, to which I would stumble and mumble through some answers. We would go the following week and, sure enough, it would follow with more and more questions and a yearning to learn. Soon, Kimberlee was attending even when I wasn’t around. It was at one of those services that Kimberlee, now my wife of almost three years and mother to my twin boys, gave her life to Christ.
Soon after Kimberlee gave her life to Christ, she joined a D28 group. She was blessed with having three different ladies in different stages of life to help her continuous growth. She ran an R12 group and then, together, we joined a couples’ small group. The amount of growth that I saw in this wonderful woman was truly miraculous. It is in these small gatherings that God moves us and where a majority of my Christian growth has occurred. It does take a leap of faith and may not be easy, but I encourage everyone to step out of that comfort zone and to get involved wherever they can. You never know where it might lead.
Kimberlee and I both love the people and the leadership here at Northstar but, more importantly, we love God. We love the fact that Northstar is not a building, but a people of God that strives to apply the teachings of Jesus in our lives while letting others know about how amazing He is. We love that Northstar doesn’t stand watching life from the sidelines, but interacts and gets involved with those both inside and outside of the church, pushing Jesus’ agenda. That’s the church that we want to be a part of. And that is why we call Northstar home.