I recently had an awesome opportunity to travel with my wife to the state of Washington to study a fairly young collegiate church plant known as Resonate Church. This church is currently a pace setter in the U.S. for collegiate church plants.
My work with CrossPoint Church connected me to a mover and shaker, Brian Frye, who works with the North American Mission Board and we soon found ourselves interested in seeing what God is up to out west. The mission was to observe all they’ve done, are doing, and how God is using them to influence abnormally large numbers in relatively small communities. We felt super blessed with this opportunity and took every minute we could to ask questions on methodology, ideology, theology, and everything in between.
Since this kind of work is likely in our future, and will no doubt relate to many of you as readers in relation to your ministries, I’d like to process some highlights of things I’m convinced this Resonate bunch is doing right after spending some days scribbling notes on everything they do and think. I believe we all can learn from their strengths…
What Ya Got Going There?
Certainly I can acknowledge that nothing succeeds without God’s will that it does so. Which means, that yes we could say, “Oh it’s just God’s blessing.” Yet, I firmly believe God happens to be partial to people who do things the way he wants them done and go hard at it.
So since this isn’t my horn, I shall proceed to toot the horn of what’s right here, in no particular order:
- They Call Themselves The Church – Ok let’s get the obvious out of the way here: They have no qualms about calling themselves the church. I’ve worked in para-church collegiate ministry so I’m aware that not everyone believe this model is for them. However, I’m more convinced everyday that this is the future (and perhaps should have always been). The thinking is like this: “The “para” only exists because the church wasn’t meeting the need in that area. Plus, if you’re acting like the church but not teaching your people what it truly means to be the church (including teaching on $ even) then you’re actually doing them a disservice in the long run.” Ponder that.
- Leadership Is Excited About What They’re Doing – This may seem like a no brainer, but I can think of more ministries in which the leadership constantly seem burnt-out, tired, indifferent, or generally “whateverish” about what they’re doing than ministries that I can think of that leadership seems to genuinely enjoy, dream, innovate and improve on their positions. It’s refreshing to see most of this bunch really seems to fit in the latter group of leadership. We go as our leaders go! Always. If a ministry, organization, or business is unhealthy, it’s because the leadership is.
- They’re Creating A Culture – Expectations occur simply because someone is already doing it and living it. I recently wrote on this exact point and have received great feedback from it because it’s so crucial but often wrongly handled. The culture an organization creates is the platter on which all other facets of who they are and what they do ride upon. See Point 7 as well, on this.
- It’s A Lifestyle Of Service and Ministry – This is made possible by point #3 as well. This also allowed them to utilize volunteers really well – which could be a point of its own actually. Not sure which even comes first. Either way, they did it and everyone thought it was dandy! The average they asked of their leaders was nearly 12 hrs a week at least! The average most ministries strive for is three! Granted, they may find even more gifted peoples if they decrease that, but what I like is that it set a standard of “You live this way and give priority to the church and God’s work!” that nobody could mistake. I’ve seen the opposite where we make the “ask” super tiny and still people see it as some fruitless job that they eventually quit anyways cause they have no ownership in the actual ministry and were fulfilling a duty instead of owning a lifestyle. This didn’t seem the case with the Resonate crew. Wow!
- Dysfunction Has Been Handled Well (from what I could tell) – Now this is speculation, but even at the craziest it’s not that crazy. Just like every staff in existence, they have recipes for dysfunction within their leadership from my discernment, and yet they’re not presently dysfunctional from what I could tell. If I were allowed to guess, I’d say there has been issues in the past that have been worked through and worked on – and were still being dealt with. This speaks well of the personal character of them and the head leadership as well for acknowledging we’re all flawed works in progress and we move forward together. It was clear everyone was quite passionate about their positions, and had different personalities, but they were aware of the greater picture and totally on board with their collective purpose. Thus, I would guess they’ve been through some scuffles in their short time, but they’ll continue to work them out. Which leads me to the next point…
- They’re Cool With Acknowledging Each Other’s Strengths – This is HUGE to me and way too rare. When we have the willingness to acknowledge each other’s strengths, it also means we’ll be forced to acknowledge what we’re not the best at. If we affirm each other in those strengths, we don’t have to be insecure about what we’re not stars at, and this enables those in leadership to strategically surround themselves with people of different strengths. These Resonaters seemed to be doing well at this from the top on down – and this is rare! I’m certain this contributes enormously to their culture and lifestyle of ministry in the church. Sadly many ministries just fill a hole with a warm body not truly gifted in the role, or they invent roles just to give someone something to do so they can have a staff at all, or worse they get multiple people just like themselves because it’s easy – and all of this is extremely counterproductive to everyone. Resonate had people in the roles they loved doing and did well, and each were training up others with those abilities under them.
- They Pushed Community Consistently and Strategically – Sure teaching is great, but living it out together is even greater. They were super strategic and thought through exactly how, why, what, when and where they were asking their people to share life together. I love this thorough, strategic, intentional push of community. I know of very few ministries who have put in the time and thought into their small groups as much as they have. For example, they’re cool with small groups of even 20 people because they recognize the new church loves larger groups, and if something needs discussed privately: *boom* one-on-one follow up – what else are coffee shops for!?
- They Have A Leader In Place Who Understands Visionary Leading – I get almost sick of this buzz word, but it’s impossible to discredit the necessity of having someone on the staff that has true vision and the understanding to relay it well. Sure a ministry can exist decently without it and God can use said ministry – at least for a while. Even better though, is when they have at least someone in leadership who spits vision that others can submit to, work with, or build on. Best is when that person is the head-leader, pastor, director, president or whatever you or your organization calls it. In Resonate’s case, their lead pastor, Keith Weiser, is that guy. While many try to undersell this gift, I’m convinced that this is precisely why they continue to be in movement, growing abnormally quick and large, and pressing for more and better.
- Everyone Understands They Must Be Flexible And Cool With Change – Even though I’ve never heard anyone say they weren’t aware of this point, I’ve seen very few people and organizations actually be this. Part of having point 8 in place is that you must also be point 9 or else the team will tear itself a part. Resonate was this in so many ways, from the way they have no owned facilities, they set-up and tear down every week, to how they grilled me with questions as well because they plan to expand soon in ways that CrossPoint has done. They maximize everything they can and realize it might change any given week. This is why they started tiny and are now reaching multiple hundreds every week in even small communities.
Again these are just a few huge, zoomed out highlights. Each one has multiple details and small facets that make it possible or that they make possible.
I can’t get into every small detail or even why and how these points are so vital to a healthy organization. However, I’d love to break things down further in the comments below with any questions or comments. If you’re from Resonate, feel free to expound upon some things or what your favorite part is!
And, if you’re from Resonate and reading this: keep up the Good work! Thanks for allowing others to hang with ya as you continue to grow, and thanks for all who spent time and money on Margo and I as we continue to grow! Looking forward to continuing our relationships!
Thanks to all who endeavor to make these into strengths of yours for the betterment of all.
What do you think of what they have going on? Have you worked for a group who did or didn’t have these strengths? How would you say they did or didn’t affect you? How does an individual or organization work on building these up?