“Don’t go to church, be the church!” is the overarching theme of Northstar Church, Pulaski, VA. Northstar does not hold their Sunday services in a church building. Instead, they meet at 10:00am on Sunday mornings in the YMCA Pulaski County gym; then join together in small groups on weeknights.
Northstar Pulaski began in the fall of 2012 as a small group of eight people, attending the NorthStar Blacksburg church. At first, they met once a month on Sunday at Critzer Elementary School but by September 2013 were meeting on a more regular basis. In five years, their membership has grown to over 100.
Northstar’s non-traditional view of church focuses on mission…being out in the community with people to love and serve them. Farris explains, “Jesus has the key to eternal hope. Why wouldn’t we want to share the love of Christ with others? If Jesus walked across the universe to save our souls, why can’t we walk across the room to share the love of Christ with someone?”
According to Farris, sharing Jesus with others can be accomplished in three easy steps:
Develop relationships – either instant or over time (friendship)
Discover their story – what do they believe and why
Discern the next steps – ask Holy Spirit to direct you
To help develop relationships, Northstar promotes outreaches such as Worship at the Lake (Claytor Lake) in July where Northstar leads worship with the campers; Good Friday Community Service at Pulaski County High School; Eve of the Eve Christmas Service; and upcoming two Block Parties (Northstar Prime for the 20-30 age group) Saturday October 20 at the new office space in Dublin; and Highland Park Neighborhood (costume party for kids and families) on Wednesday, October 31. This year’s theme is Video Game Characters. Last year, Northstar gave out 500 hot dogs, popcorn, chips and provided kid’s crafts and showed cartoons on a large outdoor screen.
Additionally, part of Northstar’s focus is on networking with pastors and other churches in the New River Valley, bringing unity rather than competing with them, in a combined effort to advance the Kingdom of God and show His glory. Liberty Church Network Local Center (LCL) is comprised of 15 – 18 pastors from several counties who want to pour into each other, pray for each other, and equip the local church. They meet monthly for two hours spending the first 45-minutes in accountability, i.e., spiritual check-up; then enjoy a working lunch; and the last 45-minutes discussing how they can make disciples who make disciples.
Farris, who grew up in Pulaski, graduated from Radford University with a degree in Outdoor Recreation and an M.S. in Pastoral Leadership from Cincinnati Christian University. While a volunteer Youth Pastor at Community Christian Church, he met his wife, Mandy. They were married in 2002 and have three children: Jeremiah (14), Thomas (10), and Caroline (5).
Farris says his life turned around after marrying Mandy. “She keeps me grounded and humble and makes sure I don’t get caught up in the business of life. We work well together. She leads a discipling group and mentors young women.”
They felt a calling to plant churches – especially the 20 – 30 age group, but before beginning their church planting ministry, Dave prayed that Mandy would be mutually called; and that God would draw people who would be on the same mission and vision with them. “Mandy is also a fantastic advocate on church planting. Planting a church is not a solo ministry…it is a family call and God is at the helm,” says Farris.
During Sunday’s five year anniversary celebration held at the Union Hall in Dublin, several individuals shared their stories of relationships within Northstar Church Pulaski and told how those relationships helped restore and renew their lives. These are their personal stories – not testimonies – because they are works in progress. The common theme is that before they surrendered to Jesus, they searched for coping methods…but found that Jesus was the only thing that fills and satisfies them. And now they celebrate the hope they found in Jesus.
Adam grew up in a strong Christian home and thought he and his wife had an ideal life….until a year ago. Adam had an overwhelming burden for fostering and adopting children. After hearing one of Farris’ sermons, they saw a need of being the hands and feet of Jesus to families who needed help. Consequently, they fostered a one-month old baby and are fostering a two-year-old and a 17-year-old. “Sometimes it is incredibly difficult, trying to navigate waters of parenting a teen when we are in our 20’s. We were happy before but now we are filled with joy. Northstar congregation has surrounded us and loved us,” says Adam.
Ashlee was also brought up in a Christian home but after being assaulted as a young teen, began looking for attention in the wrong places with the wrong people. She turned to drugs and alcohol to hide the pain. “I thought my past actions defined me. I lost hope and even though I tried to pray, it seemed pointless,” Ashlee recalled. “But the people at Northstar were praying for me. When I couldn’t see goodness in myself they still did. My heavenly Father has forgiven me. He will never tell you that you aren’t good enough. He wants you to run to Him. His arms are wide open. Thanks to Northstar, I feel like I belong.”
Becky attended a small church and enjoyed close family relationships, but after a couple unexpected moves, lost interest in church and put God on the back burner. A broken relationship lead to seeking solace in alcohol and struggled with anger. When she returned to Northstar, she was welcomed back but realized she had to surrender all of her life to God. Becky shared, “We are never too far gone…He will come back for us. Our purpose to to serve the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength. We don’t feel complete when we don’t overflow with love for Jesus.”
Rob was non-commital in his relationship with Christ and struggled for years, not believing in anything except if something bad happened, it was God’s fault. After marrying his wife, he saw through her what it meant to be faithful to God. Unfortunately they were medically not able to have children. He met Dave and was invited to attend Northstar. “We were welcomed warmly and felt like we were part of the church family,” recalls Rob. He got baptized and had the joy of seeing his parents get baptized. One year ago, he and his wife were blessed with a baby boy. “We serve a God who relentlessly pursues our hearts. God’s love never fails us,” promises Rob.
Several newcomers were in attendance at the celebration. One in particular approached Farris after the ceremony and said he had just moved to the area. He saw Northstar’s podcast and facebook and wanted to visit this church.
Farris wants everyone to know, “We want to be a church where people can come regardless of their background and baggage. Come as friends – leave as family and experience Jesus. We are joyfully celebrating what Jesus has done for us.”
For additional information, contact: Northstarpulaski.org
Pictured: Dave Farris, pastor of NorthStar Church, Pulaski VA stands outside their new office space at 233 Broad Street. The space will be a staging area for ministry where church members can “gather then scatter.” The office space will provide a location for multiple ministry events, member lunches, youth groups and discipleship groups. The front portion of the building is designated for local people to come and use wi-fi, enjoy coffee, have a place to chat or hold small group events. “Love God – love others – serve the world. God’s love compels us to love our neighbors and share the Gospel; then trust Him to save them. We want to go where they (our neighbors) are and minister to them,” states Farris.
By DANIELLE REID, The Patriot