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A Simultaneous Farewell to the Murrow College and Resonate Church– By: Charles Westerman

This past semester I’ve had the privilege to work as a communication intern with my college church of four years in order to fulfill my six-credit Murrow College internship requirement. It was a “two birds with one stone” experience and I’m so grateful for how God used these two entities to shape me into who I am today: someone who has a relationship with Jesus and knows that his purpose in that relationship is to write for His glory.

Here is an excerpt from my final paper — neigh final assignment — in college. This assignment asked me to write a 12-15 page report on my entire intern experience. The final question in the paper guidelines was this: Analyze how your internship site performs in regard to social responsibility. And below were the sub-questions to that question

            –What is the purpose of your agency in society?

            –Did your site measure up in an ethical sense?

            –What is its contribution to society?

            — Was your time spent there of educational value?

             — Would you do it again?

            — Is the internship a fitting capstone to your university experience?

Here is my answer to these questions and my thank you to Resonate. Without them, I honestly don’t think I would have graduated college:

Unlike many churches in 21st century America, Resonate is not only socially responsible, but socially competent as well.  From our Lead Pastor Keith Wieser, down to the people in charge of setting up and tearing down for services; it is a well-organized, hard working, practical and visionary organization. They absolutely know what their purpose in society is and the fact that they have 700+ in attendance at their two services every Sunday is a testament to that.  Resonate seeks to give students an ‘authentic community’ to be a part of throughout their college experience.

Resonate’s model for building authentic community is a successful one, and I feel qualified to say that because it was the model I personally experienced.  The Resonate model for authentic community consists of three parts. Obviously, the Sunday service is one of the parts, however they constantly stress that Sunday gatherings aren’t more important than the others. In fact, if anything, they’d say it’s the least.  It is the second and third components of the model that has made Resonate so successful in their purpose.  In just five years Resonate has gone from their first service of less than 200 people, to a church of over 700+ in attendance every week. Not only have do they have a quantity of members, but a majority of the members they have are quality. I don’t mean this in the sense that they are perfect people who never do anything wrong, I mean it in the sense of how seriously members take their role in helping Resonate fulfill their purpose.  This is evidenced by the participation in the second and third components of Resonate: Village and Ethos groups.

Village is Resonate’s version of a Bible Study, but it’s different than any Bible Study I’ve been to, and I grew up in a strong Christian home. Every week, groups of 12-20 people gather in a Village Leaders home. The members take turns making meals each week and the first hour of Village is spent breaking bread and just getting to know each other.  There’s almost no better way to build community than to have people eat a meal together.  After that, everyone gathers in the living room and the Leaders facilitate a conversation about Sunday’s sermon.  This does two things: it gives people different viewpoints and exposes them to different opinions on all kinds of topics. From forgiveness, to social justice, to personal identity, to sexual relationships; people who regularly attend a Village get a chance to talk and listen to conversations about some of the most important aspects of life.  The second thing the Village conversation accomplishes is making the message on Sunday sink in, feel relevant, and ultimately be effective. Being reminded of the essence of the message in the middle of the week prevents it from having the “in one ear and out the other” effect.

The third component of Resonate is Ethos groups. The Sunday service unites the entire body with one message and one commonality: The resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Villages give members a more intimate community and a chance to process the message with multiple perspectives in mind. Ethos is where the next level of intimacy comes in.  Ethos groups are made of two-three members of the same sex. It is this group where members have a chance to be free to share the deepest desires and fears of their heart.  It is a group that stresses unfiltered honesty, complete vulnerability, true accountability, unending encouragement, and ultimately, friendship that defines brotherly and sisterly love.

I would absolutely do my internship with Resonate again. What I’m about to say is no slight to the Murrow College, but a testament to Resonate: I have learned as much about good communication from them as I have in school.  Because good communication is the only explanation for how an original staff of three guys from Texas and their families could come to the most un-churched region in the country, to a college town of a very un-churched generation and grow in both the quality and quantity they have in the last five years.  I would go to my grave saying that Pullman is a better place with Resonate than without it.  Student’s who attend Resonate faithfully will ultimately have their character shaped for the better. That’s not to say other organizations can’t have a similar affect, but this was the one that affected me and I’m eternally grateful it did.  My internship with Resonate was a fitting capstone to my university experience, but my four years being a member of it turned out to be the foundation of that experience.


About ananiasgo

Charles Westerman is a freelance writer, songwriter, school bus driver and murder mystery theater actor living in Portland, Oregon. He grew up on a ranch in Chugwater, Wyoming as the youngest of five kids and graduated from Washington State University with a degree in Journalism and English Lit. in May 2012. In between driving his Jr. High minions back-and-forth from school, he is currently at work writing his debut literary novel, Where Heaven Meets Cheyenne and its sequel. A two-part telling of the story of his ordinary family that came together in an extraordinary way. For the past two and half years he has worked to tell this story with honesty, excellence and honor to the characters who made it possible.

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