When people hear the names “Washington State” and “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 Washington State, Resonate Church has emerged as an example of God granting a validating and motivating victory to the collegiate church planting world. When it launched in 2007, only a few were aware of Resonate. Those who did were comprised mostly of those who deeply cared about the curiosity the ministry created:
“Can you really do church with College students?”
“Can collegiate churches really even make a difference?”
Over nearly a decade, these questions have been answered better than most could have predicted through a variety of collegiate church plants. These questions haven’t simply been satisfied with words. Rather, they’ve been reasoned and resolved repeatedly with the best kind of response: faithfulness and fruitfulness.
It has also been exciting to see how Resonate has inspired other collegiate church planting networks. Tribes like the Salt Network, H2O, and Gracepoint have adapted and implemented many of their strategies in different contexts. That inspiration can be seen and felt on many levels within Resonate, but here are seven ways they are helping to shape college ministry culture in North America.
1. Discipling Multipliers
Over the last few years, Resonate has implemented the 3DM LifeShapes disciple-making process throughout their church. In the process, they’ve found an efficient and effective method of making disciples who make disciples.
2. Multi-Site & Video Venue Plants
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 venue was the first of many live preaching and video venue sites. This further solidified the reality that college ministries and churches can, and should, launch new churches and venues on new college campuses.
Resonate is committed to church planting, but they also see students graduate out of their church at a quick pace. Turnover can create high tension, so 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 church planting team member.
4. Collaborative Sermon Design
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 illustration. The consistent result is strong sermons designed — in part — by college students.
5. Developing Leaders
How does Resonate create leaders? In every way possible. To move a church from 50 people to over 1000 in seven years, you have 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 build a system that capitalizes on every leadership niche imaginable. Each aspect of the Resonate leader-raising system are all utilized to move leadership forward at an incredible pace. This system enables Resonate to move non-Christians to disciplers to leaders to planters/planter team members as quickly and as safely as possible.
6. Cultivating Creativity – Whether it is baptism videos, promotional pieces, design resources, or home-grown worship albums Resonate consistently delivers creative genius. What’s the 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.
7. Exporting 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 “Collegiate Church Planting Collaboratives.” These Collaboratives draw together collegiate-reaching multipliers to evaluate systems, cultivate relationship, 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.
Resonate is one of a few movements heavily challenging the status-quo of collegiate ministry to be stronger and bolder. It must be said, however, that we can’t afford to get stuck on what it is that Resonate does, or even how they do it. We need to 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 living Matthew 28:18-20. Might we have this same posture and desire. May we be disciples who make disciples, who plant churches to start churches.
Special thanks to Rudy Hartmann for additional editing.