PHOENIX (BP) — In a college football stadium, in the third quarter of a Washington State versus Oregon game, surrounded by 20,000 cheering fans, Keith Wieser heard God say, “Look at all this potential. I want to do something here, but you have to think bigger.”
“Truth is, our vision was a stadium full of saved people, but God saw a stadium full of sent people. We just wanted to start a college church, but God desired to start a movement of collegiate churches,” Wieser said in a video during the Executive Committee’s morning report at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention June 13.
In 2007, Wieser and his wife Paige moved from Texas to plant a church in Pullman, Wash., “a part of the country where churches are few and college students in those churches are even fewer.” They launched Resonate on the campus of Washington State University. Within a year, they planted again at the University of Idaho.
“In 2012, we started our third site at the heart of WSU’s campus, and it immediately became our largest Sunday gathering,” Wieser reported. “Five years after launching Resonate, we were a church of 600 people, 20 staff and three sites.”
The Wiesers are among those Frank S. Page, president of the Executive Committee, wanted messengers to see as the face of the Cooperative Program, a visible example of the fruit that comes when Southern Baptists give sacrificially.
Resonate sent out two of their best, Jacob and Jessica Dahl, to plant a church on the campus of Central Washington University, and in 2013 Page featured them in his EC report in Houston.
“Since 2007, we’ve sent out 1,200 students on mission trips,” Dahl said in the video. “We’ve sent a long-term team to East Asia to reach college students. Over 350 students have committed to church planting. Since 2007, we’ve seen over 700 college students baptized.
“The story doesn’t end with the campus. It begins with the campus. Students graduate and move to cities as leaders,” Dahl said. “We are giving them a Gospel worldview so they can shape and influence culture. If we win the campus, we win the world.”
During the Executive Committee’s afternoon report, Page had the Wieslers, the Dahls and others join him on stage.
“Southern Baptist family, I don’t have strong enough words to express my appreciation for your investment in our lives. One of the things that I love most about being Southern Baptist is we are a group of people who will do whatever it takes to reach people who are far from Jesus, even if that means planting churches in unconventional ways and in unconventional places,” Keith Wiesler said. “The Resonate family exists because Southern Baptists invested in Paige and me when we were college students and it gave us a pathway to plant churches across the Northwest.”
The collegiate church at Central Washington University has grown from 12 to more than 250 people, Paige Wiesler said. They’ve baptized more than 100 people and made disciples.
Jacob Dahl said he’s “seen God do some pretty amazing things at our church in the last four years.”
“One is that He has trained up and called one of our original church planting team members to plant a church on a different college campus,” he said. “We had a goal to not just start a church but to start a church planting church. We knew the lostness on college campuses demanded in us a multiplication mindset from the very start.”
Jessica Dahl introduced Colin Luoma and Jessi Strecker, who will be married June 17 and this fall will plant a Resonate church on the campus of Western Oregon University.
“The most important thing we want you to hear today is this: Southern Baptist family, when you invest in college students through the Cooperative Program, you accelerate missions and church
planting for generations,” Luoma said.
A group of college students stood with Luoma on the stage.
“This group behind me continues to tell the story. This is just a few people that are being prepared to plant churches in the future,” he said.
“So Dr. Page and messengers of the SBC, on behalf of Resonate Church, other collegiate churches and every college student yet to hear the Gospel and be mobilized, thank you for your continued sacrifice in accelerating missions through the Cooperative Program,” Luoma said.