Excited for Northland & Daniel Patz

I am very excited to have Daniel Patz as the new chairman of the board at Northland. He is the grandson of our founder, pastor, theologian, alumnus, and servant of Christ. Check out the announcement that was made earlier today.

It has been clearly evident that God has appointed him for this time. We have a lot of work to do this summer and there is no one I would rather do it with than Daniel. Pray for Daniel and Molly as they adjust with these new responsibilities, and pray for Northland as we work toward a healthy future.

Also, check out Daniel’s new website where he posted the charge his Uncle Howard read to him when installing him as the chairman of the board.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

A Personal Note

For today’s post, I wanted to write a personal note of thanks to our friends. Normally I don’t do this on my site, but I am finding it difficult to adequately respond to the many texts, calls, and emails. The last two and a half weeks have been some of the most challenging yet grace-filled days of our lives. Diane and I want to say thank you to so many of you who have prayed for us and for Northland’s extended family.

On April 25, 2013, several members of our board of directors made a decision to have me step down from my role as president. While the board did not state the reason, I knew the tension points were over cash flow and direction. This was an undesired and unexpected decision, but I took it as from the Lord. I trust in His sovereignty and goodness. The board members have been and continue to be my personal friends.

From April 25 to May 8, I did my best to assist the board in accomplishing their desires. When faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends asked about what they should do if they disagreed with the decision, I encouraged them to respond prayerfully, respectfully, and full of grace. I believe this was done.

On the evening of May 8, the chairman of the board, Howard Patz, clarified for the rest of the board the history of Northland, as well as the direction he believed it should now take. After some discussion, four members of the board graciously and respectfully resigned. Nothing was forced, and it was a grace-filled meeting.

The remaining board then asked if I would return as president. After a discussion over our present challenges as well as our future plans, I agreed to step back in. The works of God convinced us that our assignment remains at Northland.

Over the past seventeen days I have constantly prayed, “God, your will be done.” Here are a few of the things the Lord has been doing:

  1. Through brokenness He is driving us to greater levels of dependence.
  2. He is strengthening and blessing our marriage.
  3. He is reconnecting Northland with its alumni.
  4. He is moving in spiritual ways among our student body.
  5. He is unifying our faculty and staff.
  6. He is bringing to us some incredible new friends.
  7. He is raising up leaders who want to help.
  8. He is raising up donors who want to give.
  9. He has allowed us to connect with many of Paul Patz’s grandchildren.
  10. He has confirmed the direction we are taking.
  11. Through our critics He has helped us to see our faults, the things we need to change, and the areas we need to improve.

And the list could go on.

Over 20 years ago I was drawn to Northland by the lives and teaching of Les Ollila and Doug McLachlan. In 1993 “Dr. Mac’s” book, Reclaiming Authentic Fundamentalism, articulated what many of my generation felt. While not all of our mentors would agree with every present day application, we continue to build on the heart and soul of what we saw and what we were taught. We love these men. And we love Paul Patz – all that he was and stood for. Our prayer is that we will continue to produce future generations of young people whose hearts are touched by God and fueled with the gospel message.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Northland Transitions Leadership

Dear Friends,

It has been a great joy for me to serve at Northland for these past eleven years. On Thursday, April 25, 2013, our board of directors determined it to be in the best interest of this ministry to move forward with new leadership. I accept this as a decision from the Lord as he sovereignly works through the authorities placed in my life. I plan to finish this current academic year through to May 11, 2013, doing everything I can to help the board, faculty, staff, and students, toward a healthy transition. I have a great desire to see Northland do well. I would also like to express a very sincere thanks to the Patz family for allowing Diane and me to be a part of what God is doing here in northeast Wisconsin. We look forward to what God has in the future and our hearts continue to burn for God’s glory and the work of the great commission.

Your friend and fellow servant,

Matt Olson
Romans 11:36

UPDATE: The audio from today’s chapel, where I told the students about this transition, can be found on our sermon page.

Pursuing Transparency with Change

Many have asked, “Has Northland changed?” That is a fair question, and one that I will gladly answer. Northland has not changed its mission or it’s core values. We are committed to and willing to contend for the fundamentals of the faith—more than ever before. We are growing in our passion for the glory of God, the gospel, the great commission, and the great commandments. We have, however, made a number of changes as we apply these foundational beliefs to our ministry in the 21st century. We have not done this perfectly, but we believe we are headed in a biblical direction that is focused on pursuing God’s pleasure.

Over the past several years we have written and spoken about our changes through our emails, letters, website, chapel messages, vidcasts, and blog sites. I see that these may have been inadequate, and I personally apologize for any unclear communication on my part.

Here are the changes we are talking about:

  1. Northland went from being unaccredited to accredited with TRACS in 2004. Earlier this month Northland’s accreditation was renewed for an additional 10 years.
  2. Northland went from the exclusive use of the King James Version in the pulpit and classrooms to allowing other translations.
  3. Northland went from a standard that did not allow women to wear slacks on or off campus to a policy that would require them to simply dress modestly and appropriately.
  4. Northland went from a demerit system to a discipleship platform for our students. Yes, we still have rules: we still confront, and we still have consequences. We just believe we have a better and more biblical model now. It is built on relationships. We are always looking for better ways to accomplish our mission.
  5. Northland went from practicing some forms of “secondary separation” to what we now understand to be a more biblical separation. Where we would not have had men like John MacArthur, Rick Holland, Ken Ham, Bruce Ware, or Mark Dever, we would now. We see no reason to separate from these men. We would consider them to be in the spirit of historic fundamentalism; they believe in the orthodox faith, will separate over it, and live godly lives.
  6. Northland went from only allowing “traditional” styles of music to accepting more modern styles as well. A blend of traditional and current music is used in our programs and chapel.
  7. We created an overarching name of Northland International University to give our students greater opportunities with the gospel worldwide. The change was driven by our passion to reach every tribe, tongue, people, and nation.

These changes have been both welcomed and criticized. It has been our desire to reach out to scripturally solid churches who in the past have not been familiar with Northland as well as continue to serve our current constituents. Some might see a need to return to the way we functioned prior to 2002, observing the changes as a departure from who we were. It has always been our heart’s desire to honor the intent of the Patz family, who built and funded this ministry from the beginning. They continue to be a great encouragement to us all.

Some may ask, “Are you fundamentalists?” If you are talking about believing the fundamentals of the faith, being willing to separate over them, and being committed to living a holy life before God—then the answer is a resolute, “Yes.” If you are talking about our being willing to separate over “cultural fundamentalism” and its demands to separate over Bible translations, music, dress, methods of ministry, secondary associations, etc., the answer is an equally resolute, “No.” We cannot. Our consciences before God will not allow us to draw artificial lines of separation where God Himself has not drawn them.

We understand that it is a natural thing for people to want to assign a motive for everything. We can tell you this—the motive for our change is not to be big, popular, or accepted—but to do the right thing before God. That is it. It is also our desire to do all of this with grace. We have a great passion to continue our mission by preparing this next generation of servant leaders for great commission living—taking the gospel where it isn’t.  The need is greater than ever before. So is the opportunity. May God give us grace and strength to keep serving God and one another!

Your friend and fellow servant,

Matt Olson
Romans 11:36

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Alumni Contribute Back

It has been a real blessing to have alumni contributing back to Northland by investing in our present student body by way of chapel. Outstanding messages have been brought by Steve Sauers, Donny Varney, Ryan McCammack, Jason Janz, and most recently Daniel Patz. These messages can be listened to on our sermon page.

Daniel has shared a few thoughts on his view of Northland in the video below and in a letter he recently wrote.

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.

Growing Together

Just this past week Diane and I recorded a brief video where we look back at how we have been continually challenged to keep growing and digging into the Word. This has been challenged and fueled as we have attempted to disciple our own children and now an entire college student body. There has never been a time that we have more fully realized that we ourselves are still in the process of being conformed to the image of His Son. I guess that reinforces the idea that the best teaching comes from the overflow of what God is doing in your life.

Upcoming Graduate School Courses

Northland Graduate School recently sent out some communication about a couple of upcoming Master of Ministry and Doctor of Ministry courses.  You can read about the details of these classes below and I invite you to join us for one or both of these courses. Keep in mind that your first resident module course is tuition free!

We are excited about two upcoming graduate courses, and we invite you to consider joining us for one or both of them. Preaching Pauline Epistles will be offered during the eight-week Online B Session (October 22–December 14, 2012). Mr. Brent Belford will be teaching this course, which emphasizes exegesis of the Pauline Epistles with the goal of skilled exposition. Registration is now open and will remain open until October 12. The syllabus for the class is available here.

Additionally, the week of January 14–18, 2013, will feature an in-residence block course entitled The Use of the OT in the New. Dr. Michael Vlach of The Master’s Seminary will open the class, followed by Dr. Doug Brown, professor at Faith Theological Seminary, who will finish out the week. This class will overview and explore specific uses of Old Testament texts within the New Testament, with the goal of helping students develop their own personal approach to the issue. Both Dr. Vlach and Dr. Brown specialize in this realm of study and offer their expertise in assisting students to grow in their knowledge of how to incorporate a proper understanding of the New Testament’s treatment of the Old Testament into their preaching. The syllabus for the class is available here.

Register here to take part in these opportunities to expand your understanding of these important biblical subjects. We hope you will plan to join us!

I would love to connect with you! If you have any questions or would like to connect please use the contact page.