Northland patterns the form of the church after the nature of God. We believe the God who wants to conform us to the image of His Son, wants to conform His church to His own image. So, the identity and structure of a distributed church is the nature of God.
The way we understand the nature of God as revealed to us in Scripture can be expressed in this summary principle: I Am = Us For Them, There.
I Am - one God, The God. (Exodus 3:13-22; Deuteronomy 6:4-5; Isaiah 45:5-6, 21-22; The “I Am” statements of Jesus: John 6:36, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9-14; Revelation 1:17)
Us - the trinity, God’s nature is a relationship. (Genesis 1:26; Matthew 28:19; John 1:1-2; Ephesians 4:4-6; 2 Corinthians 13:14; 1 Peter 1:2)
For Them - God is love, and love is always about the other. (Luke 5:32; John 3:16; Romans 5:6-7; 2 Peter 3:9)
There - Incarnation, God came to us when we could not go to him. (Luke 4:18; John 1:14; Colossians 1:15-20; Ephesians 2:11-22)
In order to fully embody this identity, Northland is becoming a church of distributed churches, a family of spiritual families. More and more the larger congregation of Northland is also comprised of smaller, distributed churches (spiritual families) that are networked together with a common vision, mission, and leadership. These distributed churches meet in homes, offices, clubhouses, and coffee shops for a meal, fellowship, the study of Scripture, prayer, and service (Acts 2:42), while the whole congregation of Northland also regularly combines together each weekend in larger venues for worship and network-wide equipping.
When Northland gathers via one of our weekend worship services, we experience unified teaching that shapes the entire movement of distributed churches. We celebrate who God is, what He has done, and what He is doing through us. We hear of God’s stories told through changed lives. And, we develop our collective and individual ability to think biblically.
A distributed church provides the environment to apply Scripture to our more immediate context, to contribute and participate using our God given gifts, to develop deep relationships between individuals and families, and to spur one another on to love and good deeds. The distributed c hurch also forms the environment that best facilitates bringing the message of hope and truth to those who are not yet included.
Both the large corporate gatherings as well as the smaller distributed churches are vital for accomplishing the Great Commandment and Great Commission. The mobile forces of distributed churches take Jesus out into the communities to serve others and include those not yet included. The gathered force of our weekend worship services links us together across geography and time zones where we are made stronger in our diversity and our unity.
In organizing in this way, we reflect the nature of God as I Am = Us for Them, There. In the following sections we will begin to narrow our focus to the smaller, distributed expressions of the church, but it is important to pause at the beginning to review the guiding principles of this vision. These principles move the church outward and against an attractional and consumeristic culture.