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.

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The Vision (My New Tattoo)

I got a new tattoo about a month ago.  It’s on my ribs.  This fall I was praying on my deck and for the first (and so far only) time I spoke in tongues.  To be honest I’d tried to speak in tongues before but knew it was only the gibberish of my own head.  This experience was different.  It was from the Holy Spirit and it was one of the most powerful feelings I’ve ever felt in my very emotional life. The phrase I spoke, and have since tattooed on myself is this:

                      “Hallah yu Alla Higham Hyawehlujah”  

I love the tattoo and how it came out. The only thing I didn’t think about was how hard it would be to try and quickly articulate to someone what exactly it means.  In a sentence it means “trying to look at temporary life on earth through an eternal lens.”  But it really means so much more than that. I could probably talk about all the intricacies of it for hours.  Instead, I tried to capture it in the form of creative writing.  Hope you enjoy it.

The Vision

The Vision

I saw it all.

The day all the clock shops were blown up with all the time bombs.  I was on a multi-colored street that seemed to be an orchestra of cultures.  Fire engine red saxaphones. Atomic tangerine orange harps. Bright yellow journalistic guitars. Dark green envious cellos. Depression-quilt blue trumpets. Psychedelic electric indigo pianos.  Advent candle violet violins.

The people were all these colors—all these instruments of change. They wore their flaws without shame. They made their deepest fears known to each other. And because they did so, they knew just how to help and forgive each other.  The flaws could not fester in deep wounds of the soul. They were promptly cleaned and bandaged—no infection of insecurity, lust, greed, bitterness or anger could spread throughout the rest of the body of the people.

It was a multi-culture of lucid kisses and loving embraces. Prophetic words were the only words spoken.  People were ever changing—like the spectrum of colors of a star if it were played through time as you watched it in fast-forward in light speed.  Change was no longer a tragedy for the human soul to bare.  These lucid kisses, these loving embraces, were all kissing and embracing the mach-infinity of change that was ever present on the multi-colored street.

The symbolism of history was perfectly understood.  The practicality of mathematics was warmly accepted.  The curiosity of science was unashamedly desired.  The absolute necessity of healthy communication was a welcomed standard.  These avenues of the mind were all valued equally.

Yet art and poetry were of the most importance.  They were not avenues of the mind.  They were rivers to the seas of the soul.  And everyone floated them together.  It didn’t matter if you had talent or not.  When you created to energize, to invigorate, to electrify, to set fire to, to see into your soul– the art was brilliant, whether it was brilliant or not.

Every emotion was so deeply understood that you felt joy behind it no matter what you were feeling.  You felt anger wonderfully– sadness was necessary to appreciate joy–  boredom was finally understood as the ultimate form of relaxation… Anytime, was nap-time.

Dinner was a three-hour event.  Sports were pure and just.  Music was cleansing and graceful.  These were the facts of life.  It was simple and therefore it could be properly complex.  Behind every necessary invention there was depth in the thought of its design.  Self-awareness was absolutely essential to the vitality of the community and every individual understood that.  They did not fear the challenge of constantly being ready to learn.  The faster they learned the happier they were.  The only sin was being stagnate.

Stagnate: (of water or air) cease to flow or move.

Personal Time vs Community

A big question I have been challenged with lately is, “What does it mean to have a good balance of personal time with Christ, but to also keep a solid community with other believers?” I’ve been through different phases in my walk with Christ–sometimes I would try so hard to get to every “Christian event” and wasn’t even paying attention to God while I was there, on the other hand I could get so caught up in getting in my “quiet time” for the day, that I wasn’t even looking around to see who needed help. Having a personal relationship with Christ is more important than keeping up with the latest Christian book club, but at the same time having that community is what helps Christians keep going and be encouraged.  The Bible brings up churches a lot, and things they were doing wrong and right, but having that community is valid as well. Here are some quotes that helped me gain a better perspective on what it means to live a life with Christ:

-“Many of us have a mental conception of what a Christian should be, and the lives of the saints become a hindrance to our concentration on God.” -Oswald Chambers

-Through difficulties and trials –and thinking about what we will do today, or tomorrow. While all the while God is says, “Look up and be saved.” –all worries should vanish when we look to God.

-“Our Lord said, in effect, to Paul–Your whole life is to be overmastered by Me; you are to have no end, no aim, and no purpose but Mine.” -Oswald Chambers

-“There is nothing there apart from the personal relationship. Paul was devoted to a Person not a cause. He was absolutely Jesus Christ’s, he saw nothing else, he lived for nothing else.” -Oswald Chambers

-“The great difficulty spiritually is to concentrate on God, and it is His blessings that make it difficult.” -Oswald Chambers

-Never ask the advice of another, about anything, before you ask God.

“When a man says he must develop a holy life alone with God, he is of no more use to his fellow men: he puts himslef on a pedestal, away from the common run of men.” -Oswald Chambers

-Christians are called to be broken bread and the door mat to other men; servants. If we serve to be liked by people we will be crushed, but if we serve out of love for Christ then nothing can hinder us from serving.

-“Tell God you are ready to be offered; then let the consequences be what they may, there is no strand of complaint now, no matter what God chooses. God puts you through the crisis in private, no one person can help another.”  -Oswald Chambers

-“…if we place our faith in human goodness, in the effect of Redemption, we shall go under when the test comes.” -Oswald Chambers

-“Paul had not a hypersensitive interest in his own character. As long as our eyes are are upon our own personal whiteness we shall never get near the reality of Redemption.” -Oswald Chambers

It’s not wrong to reject an invitation to a Christian conference if you’re feeling drained and need some alone time with God. At the same time don’t use that as an excuse to be lazy with your walk with God and not be challenged by other believers.  I should remind myself of this daily….

Surrendering All.

 

What does it mean to be in full surrender of my Lord? I have been challenged with this question this past year, and haven’t come to a full conclusion (and won’t until I see Him face-to-face), but each day I am getting a step closer through the little hints He passes by me.

God has showed me through scripture….Luke 16:13 “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” 9 times out of 10 when I help someone out I do it for selfish ambitition. I was proposed the question, “If you were paid $1000 everytime you witnessed to someone, would you do it more?” Personally, yes, I would witness to people more if that was the case. I am, in that mindset, serving money more than God.

hint#2 Jesus has shown me that I have a hard time loving people by myself. In fact I suck at it. When Jesus left this world He gave us a “simple” command. To love one another.  Love is a word that is so easily misinterpreted…through finding love I would look for what pleased me, gave me the most satisfaction, and made me the most comfortable. Totally looking out for myself. Love is not like that at all. Love is sacrifice.  Instead of looking out for myself, I’ve learned to think of another’s perspective.

hint#3. judging others. Matthew 7:1-2 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” I have caught myself lately thinking degrading thoughts about other people, and thought, “what if they thought this about me?” Again, I was thinking of myself- but it really made me make more of an effort to stop those thoughts. I want to care for people, not only in my actions, but in my thoughts as well.

hint#4. have dates with Jesus. As believers, Christ is your husband/soulmate/your forever. Just like spending time with a  boyfriend/girlfriend it’s important to set aside time to spend with the Lord. If that means a walk, listening to Christ-centered music, or going to a coffee shop while getting into the Word than so be it! It’s so rewarding, and any time spent for the Lord will never be in vain. He notices…He loves it…He loves you.

To send you off with a take-away: Serve Christ more than man and money, love others, don’t judge, and go on a date! I hope these hints are helpful for you as I need to be reminded of them daily.

Getting to know Jesus.

Love. At all times.

                -Jesus

Jesus.

Puts His trust in the Lord (Hebrews 2:13)

Our Father (Hebrew 4:13)

Can sympathize in our weakness (Heb 2:18)

Radiance of God’s glory (Hebrews 1:3)

Exact representation of God (Hebrews 1:3)….and we were made
in His image!

Sustains all things by His powerful Word (Hebrew 1:3)

Provides purification of our sins (Hebrews 1:3)

Sitting at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3)

Loves righteousness and hates wickedness (Hebrews 1:9)

Anointed with the oil of joy (Hebrews 1:9)

Made like us for the suffering of death, the suffering we
deserved (Hebrews 2:9)

Bring many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10)

Calls us, who are saved, brothers (Hebrews 2:10)

Will destroy the devil (Heb 2:14)

Frees us from the fear of death (Hebrews 1:15)

The Apostle and High Priest (Hebrews 3:1)

1:10-12 The world will be rolled up like a robe and be
changed, but Jesus remains the same.

Why wouldn’t we want to know Him more??

What does your relationship with Jesus look like?

The Invisible War (Spiritual Warfare in the Church)

I read the book of Jude for the first time this morning… It’s about dealing with people who use the church to fraud, fake, and manipulate the church for their own glory and selfish desires– the greedy bishops, the perverse popes, the fred phelps’ (the God hates Gays guy), etc.   I really like my Bible because it has sections on the right and left that thoughtfully answer and take on difficult questions in the Word. For example, at one point in Psalms it just comes out and answers the question, “Is David complaining?”  Anyway, sometimes it answers big questions at the bottom of the page.  Today as I read Jude, it had a really good answer to the question of approaching inter-church spiritual warfare.  I thought I’d share it with my readers, because it’s good stuff… the question was “How contentious should we be?” Here is the answer they gave:

“The word contend implies that Christians have something worth fighting for.   The rest of this book (Jude) reveals that our battles for the faith sometimes occur even inside the church.  When we have a deep love for the truth, our thoughtful convictions must be defended.  We cannot afford to settle for an imitation and lose the real thing.

People are not always comfortable with the rigors of firm convictions.  But the world and Satan will continualy confront our faith, leaving us no choice but to take a stand.  If we do not contend for truth in such situations, all that is left is to retreat.

Tragically, the enemy sometimes dupes people within the church or sends counterfeit believers.  At such times we must contend for the faith within the church itself.  Thankfully, we fight these battles with the help of God.

The other side of the coin, however, is that some have elevated matters of personal preference or opinion to the level of an essential doctrine.  When believers rigorously defend styles, decorating tastes or cultural distinctives, then they’ve become too contentious.  In these instances, we must contend for the message, not the method.