Several years ago the elders of the Southwest Church of Christ in Tigard, Oregon began developing a vision for the future of the congregation. They started by asking God for His direction and guidance about how to move the congregation forward and also how to make a positive impact on the body of Christ in the Northwest. Out of that time of prayer, discussion, and study came something known as the 2023 Vision: “By the power of God, Southwest will be a vibrant, Spirit-led body focused on Kingdom growth and making disciples.”
The 2023 Vision is captured in six brief points ...
Pray: Becoming a house of prayer
Minister: Every member a minister
Connect: Everyone connected in small groups
Equip: Offering a School of Discipleship & Bible training
Relevant: Known in the community for relevant life and spiritual support
Grow: Meeting in multiple locations
Progress had already been made on the first three points of the vision and it was time to move toward developing a School of Discipleship. The elders began a conversation with a local minister and educator about their vision, and during this season of exploration and discussion, a group of Southwest prayer warriors were praying daily and often for God's guidance regarding the idea of a school. In response to these prayers God provided the elders with clear indicators of His favor on plans for a school. Bottom line, in the late Summer of 2020 - in the midst of a pandemic - the elders made the decision to step out in faith and move ahead with the vision God had given them.
To that end, they invited Dr. Darren Williamson to be the school's founding Director to create and operate the ministry. His primary work as a minister at the Southwest church is to develop all aspects of the program, recruit students and teachers, teach courses, and pursue partnerships with churches in the region. He began in a consulting role in the fall 2020 and then full-time on January 1, 2021 with the launch of the school.
Name and Logo
The Northwest School of Discipleship’s name and logo are purposeful and help guide the ministry.
Our Northwest reference reminds us of where we are located (just outside Portland, Oregon) and the Christians we primarily serve. It also reminds us that there is a uniqueness to Northwest culture, specifically relating to our status as an unchurched or “post-Christian” region with a small number of churches and with little or no support from the broader culture. In fact, we are keenly aware of our status as “aliens and strangers” in this context and feel the need to work together, encourage each other, and stand together. Our logo incorporates a shield and an anchor, which together signify our concern for defending the faith and remaining stable in the uncertain waters of a secular and hostile culture.
Our status as a school highlights the importance we place on knowledge, specifically of the holy Scriptures, but also of other areas of study directly related to spiritual growth and following Christ. You will notice that inside our logo is an icon of a Bible, which illustrates the importance of the Bible and study, and a flame, which points to our dependance on the Holy Spirit. We will be seriously studying the Bible, Theology, and other Christian topics, and some of the courses can even be taken for college credit. But, we constantly and consciously rely on the work of the Holy Spirit to develop our hearts and minds for service to Christ and keep the ultimate goal of Christian knowledge in view.
Our school is not just any school, it is a school of Discipleship. This phrase is crucial because it reminds us of the purpose of all Christian learning and study – to make us better followers of Jesus Christ, participating in his mission of reconciling the world to God. Pursuit of knowledge removed from discipleship often leads to intellectual pride and desire for academic acceptance above faithfulness and obedience. The NWSD is not an independent institution loosely connected to the church but is imbedded within a confessing congregation of Christians and operates under the guidance of its shepherds. This helps keep us focused on the Great Commission of Christ’s church. The NWSD also guards against intellectual pride by incorporating elements of worship, study, and prayer into all the classes in ways that keep us moored to the proper goal of theological study. As you have probably noticed, there is a cross in the middle of our logo, just as the cross of Christ is at the center of our school and all our classes.