At Gate 40, around 130 people board a flight from Kansas City to St. Louis. Each person aboard carries a different story. Family. Business. Fun. Home. Some stick around, many simply bounce to another city.
I fly through Gate 40 every week to teach. This fall, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary launched a new extension in St. Louis to help train pastors, church planters and lay people.
Why do we do this?
We believe in incarnational teaching. While our internet education team is the best in the business and provides unique incarnational frameworks, there still is a place for a teacher working together with a classroom of students. Just visit any of our classrooms in KC or St. Louis. We wrestle with texts, consider arguments and build foundations for the future. We challenge assumptions, destroy poor logic and ground students in the Word of God. In the give-and-take of class we are sharpened by one another. There is something about presence.
It’s all part of being “For the Church.” It’s more than a slogan. We really do love the local church. Part of the dynamism of an extension is that students get some of the best faculty on their home turf. We get to serve in the context of the student’s ministry field. It helps shape our conversations in the classroom. It continues to press into our academic model the primacy of location found in the local church.
In addition, our extension centers allow us to touch base with local churches. This fall, as I travel back and forth each week, I have the unique opportunity to meet with pastors and minister with congregations in the St. Louis area on Sunday afternoons or evenings. I cherish opportunities to serve local pastors before I head to teach in the classroom on Monday morning at our extension location. There is nothing more incredible than hearing the stories of real life-change coming from churches in St. Louis!
An extension campus builds upon that very story–life change in the local church because of the Gospel. The Gospel changes lives. We are privileged to train leaders and pastors, but it’s the fruit of ministry in the local church that makes a journey worthwhile each week.
Gate 40, becomes a portal to what God is doing in the local churches. I leave behind my wife, 4 kids, and a ministry of location in KC. But the joy I find with each trip to St. Louis is wrapped in their stories–the very stories I will hear from students and those I serve over the semester. The sacrifice is hard, but God continues to show himself strong.