Our special service began with the debut of our 2015 Highlight Video:
Northstar has experienced significant numerical growth in the past six years, with 2012-2013 being the peak years. Last year, we saw a numerical decline in our worship attendance from those years. The State of the Church 2016 helped us understand how a church can grow while “shrinking” at the same time – and why it’s healthy.
Sunday, January 31, 2016 was our annual State of the Church celebration. After missing a Sunday due to winter storm Jonas, it was refreshing to be back together as a church family and guests. It was our first Sunday of 2016 for our two service schedule of 9:00 and 11:00 a.m.
At our 9:00 service, we celebrated Baby Dedication with three families: Adam and Jennifer Wilson (Selah), Tim & Marea Hagedorn (Greyson and Kayden) and Tom and Whitney Blaszak (Kaylee, Sydney, . Associate pastor Neal Nelson led us as we observed the Lord’s Supper in both services.
Lead pastor Jeff Noble presented the State of the Church message. [podcast here] He began by reviewing the spiritual principles that anchor Northstar’s identity in being the people of God:
- We are a church only as we remain in relationship to Jesus.
- We are a church only as we remain in relationship to Jesus and in relationship to one another in the design Jesus intends.
- We are a church only as we understand the spiritual nature of our existence and mission in the world.
On the presentation slides below, one can see that in spite of a decline in worship attendance the last two years, our small group participation, children’s ministries, youth ministry and offerings have all grown significantly. The conclusion is that our college student demographic has decreased since the 2012-2013 school years.
Jeff suggested a few additional reasons in addition to the college student decrease:
- The students who attended as we began experiencing accelerated growth from 2009-2013 graduated. They and the friends they brought were consistent and faithful. However, Northstar was unable to organize for the numbers we experienced in those years and was relatively unable to reach freshman students. When upperclassmen left, the “boon” of those years declined.
- Though attendance numbers on any given Sunday may be lower, what people define as being “regular” these days is different that what church leaders would define as “regular.” Leadership sees being regular at Northstar as being present and involved/invested on a weekly basis. There’s a growing number of those who define being regular as attending 1-2 times a month. That means on any given Sunday, there are approximately 100-150 not present who still define themselves as “regular.”
- In 2014, we began to realize just how many people leave the New River Valley each year – in addition to students. That May, we created Send-Off Sunday, in which we asked everyone who would be leaving that year to come forward in our services for a time of prayerful “send-off,” encouraging them to be the church wherever they go. We have see over 100 people participate in that event, and we realized that we didn’t just have to “add” people to grow each year – we also had to “replace” those who had left. That dynamic of Blacksburg’s transitional nature has been a significant eye-opener to our need as a church to be proactive in building new relationships with new students, families, internationals and singles in our community.
In 2015, we saw increased participation in our small groups, family ministries and youth. Also in the fall of 2015, we launched our Immeasurably More campaign which met our first goal by the end of the year of $1 million and reached 62% of our second goal of $2 million by the end of the year with $1,254,754 being given! In addition to that, God supplied every budget area – from missions to administrative costs, and we finished the year at 105% of our budget!
Jeff also shared the growth of our Pulaski campus in ministry and influence, as well as the plans to start a small group in Giles County that will eventually become our next Northstar campus – Northstar Giles!
We encourage you to listen to the podcast, and to follow along with the slides below that were used during the presentation: