Resonate(ing) Influence: Reshaping the Collegiate Ministry Landscape
When people hear the names Washington State and the University of Idaho in the northwest, they likely think of names like “Palouse,” “Cougs,” or “Vandals.” In church planting circles, however, there is another word that comes to mind before these. That word is: Resonate.
From its roots as a traditional Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) at WSU, Resonate Church has emerged as a linchpin of the collegiate church planting world. When it launched in 2007, only a few were aware of Resonate. Those who were aware of it cared mostly about questions the ministry created: “Can you really do church with College students?” “Will a collegiate church plant last?” “Can collegiate churches really even make a difference?”
Over time, Resonate students and leaders have answered those questions better than most could have predicted. They haven’t simply answered these questions with words. Instead, they’ve proven themselves repeatedly with the best kind of responses: faithfulness and fruitfulness.
Today, Resonate is increasingly influencing ministries, churches, and pastors around the nation. That influence can be seen on many levels, but here are 7 ways Resonate is reshaping the collegiate reaching culture of North America.
Over the last few years, Resonate has implemented the 3DM LifeShapes disciple-making process throughout their church. In the process, they’ve learned how to make disciples who make disciples efficiently and effectively. Based on Resonate learning, other collegiate churches and ministries alike have adopted 3DM, looking to Resonate as a model, a coach, and an innovator in making disciples of college students and their leaders.
Multisiting & Video Venuing
Within the first two years of its ministry, Resonate made the decision to launch a second church site in addition to Washington State at the University of Idaho. This Moscow venue was the first of many live preaching and video venue sites. This one bold move showed the church world that college ministries and churches can (and should) launch new churches and venues on new campuses.
Resonate is committed to church planting, but they also see students graduate out of their church at a quick pace. Instead of just letting them go, they have designed a “script” to educate and challenge every student at Resonate to either become a church planter or a church planting team member. Other churches are now following that lead by asking: 1) “What are we trying to prepare our students for upon departure?” and 2) “Have we prepared our students to become a generation of planters?”
Sermon Design Collaborating
To train the next generation of communicators, Resonate pastors utilize underclassmen for assistance in sermon design. Each week, college students sit in on the sermon creation process to collaborate on developing outlines, understanding the biblical text, and creating illustrations. The consistent result is strong sermons designed (in part) by college students that speak to their lives directly. Other ministries have taken note and are utilizing similar systems to prepare emerging communicators.
How does Resonate create leaders? In every way possible. To move a church from 50 people to 1000+ in 7 years, you’ve got to develop leaders exceedingly well. And to do that in a collegiate church where you lose a quarter of your church to graduation annually, you’ve got to build a system that capitalizes on every leadership niche imaginable. The Resonate leader-raising system, including 1) Villages , 2) Elevate (a 10-week summer training program), 3) staff-support development, 4) staff preparation and interviewing, 5) Huddle leadership, 5) outreach projects, 6) worship leader development, 7) venue set up teams, are all utilized to move leadership forward at an incredible pace. These 7 activities (and dozens more not listed) enable Resonate to move non-Christians to disciplers to leaders to planters/planter team members as quickly and as safely as possible. Because of Resonate’s success, other titans in the collegiate church planting world have reevaluated, reformatted, and sometimes rebooted their systems with the understanding that they can also plant more and better churches.
Whether it is baptism videos, promotional pieces, design resources shared outside of Resonate, the Ellensburg album, or even The Story you’re reading now, Resonate consistently delivers creative genius. What’s their secret? Resonate is a magnet for creatives. They brilliantly recruit creatives, collide them around ideas, and then teach them to be even better. The result is an incubator for ministry-minded artisans and storytellers committed to the gospel in college and beyond. As a result, other ministries are increasingly looking to Resonate and its graduates for training in creativity and innovation.
Perhaps most significantly, Resonate is investing heavily in moving collegiate church planting forward on the national scene. Beginning in 2010 (then again in 2013 and 2015), Resonate took the lead in bringing together collegiate church planters for learning-based gatherings called “Collaboratives.” These Collaboratives draw together collegiate-reaching multipliers to evaluate their systems, cultivate relationships, and share best practices on planting in college circles. In 2014, due in large part to interest generated during the Collaboratives, Resonate led out again by piloting a gathering called Hitchhikers Guide to Resonate. During this immersion weekend, 80 leaders from around North America came to the Palouse for an all-access pass “look under the hood” tour of Resonate. These events have had a profound impact on hundreds of church and thousands of college students. But Resonate’s exportation of innovation goes even further. Whether by speaking at events, consulting with and coaching new leaders, serving on denominational task forces, taking part in learning cohorts, or serving on collegiate network teams, Resonate leaders give beyond reasonable expectation to share what they learn and to assist and inspire other leaders and churches to be all that God has called them to be.
In these 7 ways (and many more), Resonate is challenging all of us to be stronger and bolder in the collegiate-reaching world. But don’t get stuck on what it is that Resonate does, or even how they do it. That would be a mistake. Focus on why they do church and why they impact students so well. Resonate believes deeply and passionately in the gospel, and they long to see their church (and all others) living Matthew 28:18-20. May we be like Resonate. May we be disciples who make disciples, who plant churches to start churches.