We have been sent by Jesus to proclaim His gospel to the people of Bellingham. We’re Bellinghamsters who love our city and want to see it renewed by Jesus and His gospel. This means our lives are simultaneously ordinary and radically different. Ordinary because we share many of the same joys, challenges, aspirations, struggles, and dreams as our neighbors. Radically different because our lives belong to Jesus, who has saved us from our sin. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we want our friends and neighbors to know Jesus and have their lives transformed by His love. We believe that even though we live in a broken world that is full of hurt, pain, injustice, and suffering, Jesus is ultimately the answer, making all things new.
Therefore, we are starting Legacy Church because, like Jesus, we see the people in our city and are moved with compassion.
The Pacific Northwest has been called the “none zone” with more people than anywhere in the nation claiming no religious affiliation. In Bellingham there are thousands of people who don’t yet know Jesus and who aren’t engaged in the existing churches. There are approximately 40-50 Christian churches right now in the city. That’s about one church per 2,000 people. Missiologists say to effectively penetrate an area with the gospel you need one church for every 1,000 people in the urban areas and one church for every 500 people in the rural areas. (http://www.lifeway.com/Article/pastors-church-planting-missions-strategy-value-gospel)
The total population of Bellingham is approximately 82,234 and growing, up 22% since 2000. Bellingham is a college town with approximately 14,500 students attending Western Washington University, 4500 students attending Whatcom Community College, and 3500 students attending Bellingham Technical College. That adds up to approximately 23,000 enrolled students total. Even though these are estimates, but there are a lot of young people in our city.
– 3500 churches close in the U.S. each year (Ed Stetzer and Warren Bird, “Viral Church”).
– More than 80% of the churches in the U.S. have plateaued or are declining (Barna Research Group).
– In the United States alone, there are over 200 million unchurched people, making the U.S. the third largest mission field in the world (Barna Research Group).
– The largest unreached people group in America are twenty-somethings (Barna Research Group).
– 51.9 million people in the U.S. between the ages of 20-38 are not connected with the existing churches (Gallup Poll).
Bellingham needs more churches to effectively reach more people for the gospel.