One of the core values of Northpoint Bible College is commitment to fostering community among its faculty, staff, students, and alumni. This value has been developed into a value statement which reads, “We honor our rich heritage of affirming relationship and diversity as foundations for our community. Our daily life transforms routine functions to foster an environment of growth, care, support, and encouragement for one another.”
Community is not only an important part of Northpoint’s DNA, but it was also a key element of the early church as noted in Acts 2:42: “They [the church] devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” The concept of the “fellowship” of the believers was a core element of the early Christian message because it was a central focus of Christ’s teaching. Its importance was stressed by Jesus who, on the evening of His betrayal, instructed the disciples, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34). The hallmark of a believer was the love that they showed one another in the community of faith. John the Apostle emphasizes this theme in his first epistle and warns “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). In fact, those who claim to “be in the light” are “still in the darkness” if they “hate a fellow believer” (1 John 2:9). In additional explanations in John’s letter (and many other references in the New Testament), the importance of love in the community of God is emphasized. In turn, the love that we demonstrate to fellow believers will impact our witness to those outside the community of God. Mistreatment of others within the church will certainly not attract others to join such an environment. But if someone sees genuine love and service within the church, how attractive (and strange) that would appear! This type of love would draw unbelievers to the true love that they are seeking in God.
The theological basis for the topic of community is clearly evident in Scripture. The practical question is “how do online students become involved in the community of Northpoint?” After all online students are not on campus to connect with the community. Here are some practical steps you can take to engage in the richness of the Northpoint family.
- Watch Northpoint’s chapels. The weekly chapel services are livestreamed at 11:00 am from Mondays through Thursdays each week (available from our website or Canvas). Watching chapel is a great opportunity to see the family of Northpoint, hear them worship, and of course participate in the moving of the Spirit since the Spirit of God is not limited by location. You will also often hear from the president as he addresses issues facing the Northpoint and Pentecostal communities at large. He frequently casts the vision of Northpoint and reminds us of our core values and mission. By streaming chapel you will be encouraged and directed just as the campus community is. In addition, you will have access to the wealth of knowledge and experience from speakers who address the community. Chapel is a vital part of the Northpoint transformative experience, so make it a habit to tune in daily to participate. Plus days of fasting and prayer (from 9-12 am once a month) are an extra blessing!
- Engage with fellow students and faculty in your classes. In the heat of a semester, it is easy to become task focused to the point of ignoring the needs and pain of others. One way to intentionally build community is to be sensitive to the needs of fellow students in your online courses. Pay attention when people mention difficulties or situations that they have endured (or are enduring). Offer to pray for them in that situation and encourage them with your words. Send an encouraging email just to remind them that God is ever present. Be sensitive to and be used by the Spirit. And always be gracious in your communication to others knowing that we all need grace and forgiveness. Finally, be thankful. Contact staff members who have helped you in the registration and enrollment or financial process and thank them for their time or send them an encouraging email. Let faculty members know how an assignment has encouraged or helped you. By doing these things you will be loving others and building community as 1 John 4:21 instructs.
- Love others where you are. One of the most practical ways to participate in the community of Northpoint is to show the love of God right where you are – in your church. Every week students of Northpoint fan across New England to attend churches to learn to minister and to love people. So each week as you participate in your local church love others as demonstrated by Christ in Scripture. When you do so, as a representative of this school’s training you are extending the community of Northpoint into the local church body you serve. You are loving and serving as Christ did and that is the heart of the core value that Northpoint is promoting.
What an honor and privilege it is to be a part of the body of Christ where everyone is not only important to the whole but loved by God in spite of ourselves. May the value of community at Northpoint continue to thrive as we follow John’s admonition: “Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18).