January 21, 2019
Partner Story: Cascade School of Theology
The Positive Disruption in Bellingham, WA
Andrew Pack, President, Cascade School of Theology
Legacy Church is a new church plant of the North American Baptist Northwest. The community gathers in Bellingham, WA, a city known for its majestic outdoors and music scene. Bellingham hosts a university, a substantial community college, and many other programs that draw people from around the country. With its unbelievable culture and atmosphere, it’s the kind of place that brings people in who decided to stay, not because they can put their degree in economics to use, but because they would rather stay and work at a coffee shop and enjoy the mountains, rivers, and arts scene. Like most of the Northwest, it’s the kind of place that tangibly needs more disciples of Jesus to meet people where they are at, in the context of the culture, with the beauty of the gospel.
The Cascade School of Theology is a Kairos Project partner in and for the Pacific Northwest that comes alongside churches, like Legacy, to help make disciples and train disciple-makers in a way that doesn’t just terminate on the programs of this one church. Legacy Church “exists to be a family of disciples who magnify and multiply the gospel of Jesus Christ through Bellingham to Whatcom County and the ends of the earth.” At a time when a new church might focus exclusively on establishing themselves, they are busy training minsters with a kingdom vision that isn’t about themselves. Through Cascade and Kairos, this young church plant is training three students, recruiting more, inspiring others, and dreaming how not to serve themselves but also to serve the Kingdom.
Culturally we often think of disruption as a bad thing, and often it is. The Kairos Project in the context of the Pacific Northwest has been a disruptive force. When other churches look at a new church plant recruiting, equipping, and Lord willing, in short order releasing disciples for Great Commission work, it disrupts some preconceived notions about what it means to train women and men for gospel work. It is like Cascade has been able to, with Kairos, hand a tool to a new church plant and say “we believe theological training belongs to you.” Legacy’s work with Cascade has caused other Northwest churches to begin looking around and asking themselves what is stopping them from training, empowering, and sending ministers for kingdom work.
Disruption isn’t always a bad thing. Here in the Northwest the Kairos Project created a disruption, challenging the status quo of theological education in the minds of some churches. It has caused some churches to pause and be inspired about what the Holy Spirit might want to do through them for God’s Kingdom, by doing the very thing that Jesus called them to do, i.e., make disciples.
Right now, Legacy is dreaming of how they might encourage more students to join in what God is already doing in Bellingham. They are dreaming about what it might look like to train church planting residents who in the cultural context of Bellingham serve the city and make disciples, while pursuing a competency-based Master of Arts or Master of Divinity, so that the church is emboldened and equipped to obey Jesus and better the love the city where he has sent them.