“People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.”

Simon Sinek, Start With Why

That quote is from one of my favorite authors, Simon Sinek. Simon is an entrepreneur, leadership guru, and business consultant to help companies discover their “why.” Several years ago, Simon presented one of the most popular TED Talks of all time, laying out this concept he called “The Golden Circle.”

The Golden Circle is a target that maps out 3 crucial layers that determine the success of a company: 

  • What you do
  • How you do it
  • Why you do it

Simon argued that far too many people put their “what” at the center of the target. The entire focus of the company depends on what they do, what service they provide, or what products they sell. The reason this is an issue is because focusing solely on what you do is, quite frankly, boring. You’ll get some people to buy into your product because they need what you sell. But it’s not captivating enough.

On the other hand, the companies out there that are really successful have a very distinct quality. They don’t focus on what they do. They focus on why they do it. The products they make and their processes to produce said products all begins with a specific purpose in mind. Not only does starting with their why produce better alignment and clearer decision making on what they set out to accomplish, but it also inspires their customers (and employees) to take part in something bigger than just the product they purchase. 

They don’t just buy a product. They invest in a mission.

Our Why

The exact same concept is true for church. Many churches fall into the trap of focusing all their time and energy on what they do: Put on worship services, recruit volunteers, do outreach, create small groups. All those things are what every church is called to do. They are a necessity! But if all a church stands for is what they do, and forget the “why” behind the “what,” it can quickly become stale, task-oriented, and uninspiring.

The beauty of the local church is God designs every single one to be unique. Every church contributes to the Great Commission with a particular vision that can reach a particular group of people in a particular way that no other church can reach. That’s exactly why church planting is the number one way to reach new people. By the very nature of it being unique and different from other churches in the community, it reaches unique and different people that weren’t being reached previously. 

The last 7 months have been a long season of discerning what God wants our church plant to be about: To discover our why. And that is why I am so thrilled to finally announce that we are planting Resilient Church in Vermillion, South Dakota!

Our name came from a period of study when I was reading through a book called Faith For Exiles by David Kinnaman, President of Barna Research Group. This book discusses the characteristics of a certain percentage of young adult Christians they label as “resilient disciples.” According to their research, “resilient disciples” are 10% of 18-29-year-old Christians who have the following characteristics (just to list a few):

  1. Attend church at least monthly and engage with their church more than just attending worship services
  2. Trust firmly in the authority of the Bible
  3. Are committed to Jesus personally and affirm he was crucified and raised from the dead to conquer sin and death
  4. Express desire to transform the broader society as an outcome of their faith

But wait—there’s more! Check out some of these other statistics of Resilient Disciples, who state:

  • 89% – My relationship with Jesus brings me deep joy and satisfaction
  • 70% – In my church, I regularly receive wisdom for how to live faithfully in a secular world
  • 88% – The church is a place where I feel I belong
  • 77% – When growing up, I had close personal friends who were adults from my church, parish, or faith community
  • 72% – My church does a good job of helping me understand how to live out my faith in the workplace
  • 90% – I want others to see Jesus reflected in me through my words and actions

In a time when the church’s influence is constantly declining in America, and the largest religiously unaffiliated generation is those between the ages of 18-29, these stats are incredibly encouraging.

As I was studying this book and the characteristics present in churches that form these “resilient disciples,” the concept of “raising resilient disciples” was firmly stuck in my mind. I started digging into what it means to have a resilient faith. And what I discovered is there are two factors to biblical resilience: (1) living a vibrant life in relationship with Jesus, and (2) withstanding hardship and cultural coercion. This dual-nature of resilience is found everywhere in Scripture, but it can be particularly noticed in James 1:2-4:

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.

James 1:2-4

Do you see it? When hardship comes, it contributes to a joyous and vibrant life. And in turn, it’s that joyous and vibrant life in the Spirit that enables us to withstand hardship. It feeds each other. 

Our society needs resilient disciples of Jesus. And that’s why our mission is:

That’s our “why.” Everything we do as a church stems from this mission statement. We exist to form vibrant lives that withstand hardship. That’s our unique contribution to the mission of God in Vermillion, South Dakota.

Our How

But then what’s our how? How do we form vibrant lives? That’s when our 3 core values kick in (which I also call the 3 “Dubs):

We form resilient disciples through Worship, Words, and Work. Let’s unpack these:

Worship. Worship is more than just an hour long service on Sundays or a genre of music on Spotify. It’s a daily life with God. We believe a vibrant life that can withstand hardship starts when we are daily surrendered to the Holy Spirit’s will for our lives in a dynamic relationship with him.

Words. One of the most powerful means of formation are the conversations we have. This is done through friendships, reading, writing, and listening. Our Words value is all about learning wisdom in community. It’s opening ourselves up to the Word of God within the context of spiritual friendships.

Work. As we worship God and are formed in his image through community, we can leverage our God-given callings to minister to the world. This done through “good works,” as James calls it, to serve Vermillion, as well as our daily vocation to love our neighbors wherever we are.

Finally, if you notice, our values outline our discipleship process for forming resilient disciples. It begins with our relationship with God, first and foremost, and then moves into Christian community where we can learn about the Word of Jesus. The more we Worship, and the more we learn about the Word, the more our Works—our daily life—begins to reflect Christ’s image: The purest definition of a vibrant life.

Our What

That leaves us, then, with what we do—the outside edge of the Golden Circle. Since our why ultimately determines what we do, we are unapologetic in focusing on only a few ministries to accomplish our mission. Our 6 Ministries all align with the 3 Dubs as the tangible expression of our discipleship process. Here’s how it breaks down

Worship: Live Daily With God

  • Worship Services: This includes Sunday worship, Kids ministry, and occasional Worship nights, as well as our Connection events and processes to get people plugged deeper into our church. 
  • Spiritual Disciplines & Faith Rhythms: We also are going to utilize resources that help people incorporate spiritual disciplines into their daily routines. This includes a variety of prayer practices, Scripture reading, silence, stillness, solitude, fasting, simplicity, sabbath, and more.

Words: Learn Wisdom in Community

  • 1-on-1 Discipleship: As people are practicing their Faith Rhythms, we encourage them to do so in partnership with a Discipler—a more mature Christian who can walk alongside them in their daily life with God
  • Small Groups: This is the primary context for people to learn wisdom, read the Word, and build spiritual friendships in smaller communities.

Work: Leverage Your Calling For Ministry

  • Service & Outreach: We’ll do occasional service projects in Vermillion, as well as build partnerships with local non-profits and a global mission that reflects our vision & values.
  • Vocation Discovery & Development: Lastly, we’ll host a variety of workshops all about integrating faith into the workplace, and how God has uniquely wired every person to be a missional presence in their families, neighborhoods, and workplaces.

Video: Our Vision Reveal

There you have it! Our name, vision, and values. Our why, how, and what. This has been a long process of discernment, but we literally could not be more excited for this vision the Lord has given us!

We hosted an online event on Sunday, October 10 to officially reveal our name, vision, and values. We walked through our story, shared the unique aspects of Vermillion, the call to raise resilient disciples in an increasingly religiously unaffiliated generation, why we chose our values, and our plans for the next year. If you’d like to watch the full event, you can check it out in the video below!

Prayer Requests

  • Continue to pray for our Sunday evening gatherings! We continue to see new people each week, which is incredibly exciting. Pray that people will find belonging and community in our little church family, and that we can continue to grow in the Lord together.
  • We will begin shifting our focus to active Core Team recruitment. Pray for the next month as I have intentional conversations with people about joining our Core Team in the Spring to help launch Resilient Church on August 28, 2022!
  • Finally, we are officially in fundraising season!! Pray for these next few months of inviting people to invest in this mission, and that God will provide the resources we need to launch his church and reach lost people.