Engaging People to Be Fully Alive in Jesus!

Melissa Bogdany & Melinda Rutland

Northlanders align on new vision statement

The fragrance of freshly brewed coffee mixed with palpable anticipation drifted down the hallway as the 49 members of the Vision Development Team converged in an upstairs classroom. As they mingled around a U-shaped table configuration making pleasant introductions and casual conversation, many began to realize the vast diversity of the group.

Ranging in age from 17 to almost 70 and representing nearly every area of ministry at Northland, the staff, volunteers, leaders, elders and pastors took their seats and prepared their hearts before God. They prayed for willing hearts to listen to Him, and to one another, with the ultimate goal of getting one question answered: What are the highest compelling truths God has for Northland?

Facilitated by Kennan Burch, the Vision Development Team has invested more than 950 collective hours thus far, yielding amazing results. Keying in on the vision statement “Engaging people to be fully alive in Jesus” and targeting “people longing for their lives to matter,” the new chapter at Northland is creating an excitement that is evident in some of the meeting participants’ feedback.

“I wrote a poem out of [the meeting]. I literally woke up at 3 o’clock in the morning and wrote this poem. … When you talk about the whole purpose of being here – it’s to glorify God. I want to glorify God because He loves us. That’s what I got out of it.
“I love our vision statement. The fully alive is huge because I feel we got quite dead – not just Northland but the whole country. It used to be that Christians were [at the forefront] of hospitals, orphanages and all these different things. Now we’re behind. Being fully alive – I think that’s super powerful.

“My hope would be that for those that really believe, really make them actually do the engaging part. Instead of saying, ‘I really liked the services,’ ‘What can I do now? How can I engage?’ – a tangible engagement or serving with purpose and realizing where they are they can engage more. …

“Imagine if thousands of people were doing some fully alive, active, engaging work.”

– Jamila Millette, youth and family counselor

“I feel very honored to have been part of the meeting for the new vision. … To engage the congregation to become fully alive means they’re more engaged in service. …

“We’re working on setting the vision statement for our group [the Northland Arabic Fellowship], so it was important to be in unity. We want our fellowship and the fellowship inside Northland to have the same vision. We learned about the dreams of Northland going forward, and using that vision statement and being able to share it with the Arabic Fellowship and be in synergy.

“We feel burdened as the Arabic fellowship to be able to reach out to the Arabic-speaking community… and share with them the life that’s in Jesus.”

– Sherif Aziz, congregant

“The way Kennan led us – it was really great. A lot of people who’ve been discouraged for some time, they found hope. … It was a very needed time to rethink our priorities and where we’re going.

“It was kind of a pivotal thing to let everyone have a voice. It was amazing to see a bunch of people who never gave up on Northland getting together for one purpose. We were really able to take the church as a whole and not as an individual. No one had their own agenda. … I think people realized that everybody wants to move forward. Everybody just loves this church so much.

“The most important thing was not the end but the journey – young leaders stepping up to elders and not being afraid to talk freely…was a huge win. Everyone left behind their individual thoughts and [focused on] how to make Northland even more amazing.

“A bunch of people who’ve been skeptical…were coming out of it so refreshed and new and with a new awakening. I was one of them, and I saw that in a lot of people.

“It became clear that it doesn’t really matter who’s in leadership. … What matters is we have a really good foundation. And definitely we’re gonna thrive.

– Fernanda Salviano, associate video director

“Being part of the church is a collective life, not an individual one. Everybody’s an individual, but collectively we are a church. It takes being together to be the church. …

“The whole reason Northland was created – it was 10 people with a commitment to seeing the Scriptures be relevant to their lives. At the core, that’s what people want – to be part of where following Jesus is relevant to their lives, and their lives will change because of what they see in the Scriptures.

“Every church across time has got to go back to following Jesus, and when anyone gets fuzzy in our thinking … go back to Jesus, and He’ll correct us.

“To be able to build on our history and help people see and pursue following Jesus – that’s why I think it was important.”

– JT Almon II, elder

“The room was magnetic. The task was unifying as Northlanders from different generations and different cultures shared the same determination … to renew our focus on engaging people to pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus. We both felt honored to be a part of planting new seeds for a vision focused on continued vitality in Christ as Northland spreads His love.”

– Vince and Charlene Taylor, congregants

“It was pretty awesome to see 40-plus people earnestly working to capsulize an entire vision into a single sentence of eight words. There was grace, there were tears, there was passion, and the Holy Spirit was clearly present.

“[The vision] clearly defines who we are and our purpose as a church. We are here to engage with people for the purpose of helping them learn how to experience the life that only Jesus can bring. It’s that simple.

“[The vision is] very simple, yet its scope is boundary-less and eternal.”

– Troy Renfrow, congregant

“I think the meeting went really well! I was kinda nervous going in because I knew I would be the youngest in the meeting, but I think everyone was respectful of each other’s opinions, and we came out in unity around our vision statement!

“To me, the new vision means exactly what it says – that in Jesus we are fully alive and that we can show others that we are and how to be also. It means that if we’re fully living in Jesus, we have no reason to not live our lives fully in Him because He is the reason we have life.

“I’m excited about how applicable it is, that not only does it apply to the people already part of Northland – those of us who are living our lives every day fully alive in Jesus – but it also applies to the people coming into our doors and how we can invite them to live fully alive in Jesus too. It even applies to those who aren’t coming into our doors but are out in the world because everyone wants to feel like they are living fully alive.”

– Sydney Mycroft, worship team member

“I’m very excited with how relationally driven it is. The biggest changes in my life have come out of that kind of relationship …and that, in turn, taught me I can relate that way with God. The idea of engaging people is really exciting to me.

“Engaging people is a call to action, to me. We’ll really show people who Jesus is by the way we act and relate to each other.

“We are fully alive with our relationship with Jesus, and out of that comes relationship with others and inviting them to be fully alive.”

– Nathaniel Comeaux, assistant lighting director

“The goal of this new vision is we’re in a new season. … The last three decades are the foundation, the basis for us to go forward. You have to have something fresh and compelling … something that would be relevant to this season. We have to seize the moment that is before us.

“We will continue to grow the body of Christ. We want to go deeper with this. The difference will be every one of us will have the mind-set of knowing we have to desire more … and that brings the change.

“We’re very intentional and focused to reach three groups of people,” Christ followers, people coming to Christ and those searching.”

– Pastor Gus Davies

“It really turned out that [the vision] was building upon bringing people to maturity in Christ [the former Northland vision].

“The word engaging is more of an action. I consider it a challenge. What does ‘being fully alive’ mean to me? It’s a challenge, and it includes everybody. We need to be engaging people to be fully alive in everything we do. It’s something that’s gonna be a filter in everything we do moving forward!”

– Brenda Beaver, accounts payable, finance


With the vision statement clearly defined, in unity, the Vision Development Team will meet one more time in mid-August to bring clarity to Northland’s identity and personality as well as laying the foundation as we move forward. We hope you share our excitement to engage people to be fully alive in Jesus!