The purpose of Resound Project is to strengthen new and existing churches in light of the changing cultural context so that the gospel of Jesus Christ might resound to the next generation. In our view, this moment requires stronger churches, not simply larger churches or more churches. Our focus is not on strategies for church growth or church planting, but on helping to strengthen churches through ongoing renewal. We believe the most effective way to build a stronger Church is by simultaneously supporting pastors, equipping churches, and engaging culture.
Pastors and ministry leaders often feel under-equipped to navigate the leadership challenges, the cultural changes, and the long-term toll of local church ministry in the present environment. Those who received their training a decade or two ago may sense that seminary prepared them well—but it prepared them for a world that no longer exists given the dramatic cultural shifts that have taken place during the intervening years. Resound Project seeks to bridge this gap by providing church leaders with mutual encouragement, wisdom, guidance, and practical support in the following interrelated areas of critical importance:
Supporting pastors and their families to ensure holistic well-being and greater resilience in the face of personal, social, and spiritual challenges
Equipping churches for greater effectiveness and sustainability by creating and fostering healthy and dynamic leadership structures and ministry strategies
Engaging the cultural issues of the day by providing theological frameworks and content to address common questions while remaining firmly rooted in Scripture and the commitments of the historic Christian faith
This is nothing new. And yet, as society moves deeper into the late modern world, Christians have been presented with a unique set of challenges, and the Church—at least in the West—is struggling to keep up with the pace of change.
Ever since Constantine legalized Christianity throughout the Roman Empire, Western Christianity has enjoyed a relatively comfortable relationship with the structures of power as the privileged religion within society. But now, 17 centuries later, Christianity has fallen from a position of dominance, at least in certain pockets of the Western world. Though many of the values and even the laws of Western culture were at least ostensibly based on Christian principles, now much of Western society is all the more resistant to Christianity for once having been so deeply shaped by it.
The historic message of who Jesus is and what he has done for us by his grace is timeless and unchanging. Yet it always stands in danger of being distorted when it is co-opted by various groups pursuing alternative agendas with ulterior motives. Within America today, we see how the gospel can be twisted to serve other agendas, such as cultural skirmishes over race, class, gender, sexuality, or one’s relationship to one’s nation.
The reputation of the Church has been tainted. We see this most clearly in the politicization of the Church. In recent decades, the Church, at least in America, has been used as a pawn by different factions to secure political power. Moreover, the political polarization of the broader culture has seeped into the Church, creating disunity and drawing battle lines between Christians that should not be allowed to exist within the fellowship of believers. The Church has been corrupted not only by politics, but also by celebrity culture, sex scandals, and financial mismanagement. As a result of many of these worrisome trends, Christianity is discredited in the eyes of many of our contemporaries.
Rather than regarding these challenges as a situation to lament, however, we see it as an opportunity to seize. At a minimum, the end of Christendom provides the Church with an occasion to rediscover authentic Christianity disentangled from some of its cultural compromises. We should not mourn the past, but embrace the adventure of the future together. Instead of succumbing to pride, fear, or anger, the New Testament calls Christians to something different—the way of Jesus. The Church is called to be “salt” and “light” by preserving that which is good, true, and beautiful from corruption and decay and by illuminating places of darkness and despair.
As a result, the Church should neither withdraw from the dominant culture out of pride, nor assimilate to it out of fear, nor attack it out of anger. Rather, the Church is called to faithfully engage the broader culture in humility, courage, and love. This means that we must remain true to our Christian convictions while seeking to expend ourselves for the sake of the world.
Resound Project was founded in 2021 at Central Presbyterian Church. Today, Central is a thriving congregation in New York City, but it wasn’t always that way. During the latter part of the 20th century, the church experienced substantial decline. By the early 2000s, the number of attendees had dwindled to a few dozen people, and the church had fallen to the brink of collapse as a result of significant theological drift and poor financial management. The congregation sorely lacked leadership, resources, and vision, but worst of all, it had lost its focus on Jesus. During this time, Central’s beautiful building—once dubbed the “little cathedral” by the New York Times in 1922—was left to fall into disrepair.
The church appeared doomed to failure, and it seemed like only a matter of time before the congregation would cease to exist. No one could have guessed back then how God would breathe new life into the old, dying church in order to bless the immediate community and beyond.
Beginning in 2006, a group of committed Christians from around the city began attending Central in an attempt to turn around the failing church. Remarkably, this small group made considerable progress in their efforts. The strategy for renewal was singular: to restore Central’s focus on the historic gospel by emphasizing strong biblical teaching, robust community, and Spirit-filled worship founded on the person and work of Jesus. By God’s grace, the gospel was restored to the heart of Central and to individual lives. And, true to the gospel, there have been resounding effects as Central continues to flourish. Today, Central is a culturally diverse body of more than 500 people who are following Jesus Christ in his mission to transform lives and make all things new.
Only God could have orchestrated the unusual circumstances that led to Central’s renewal, and in many ways, Central’s story is unique. But nevertheless, we believe Central’s story can provide the necessary encouragement and inspiration to pursue the renewal of other churches in other contexts as one more way to strengthen the Church in the present cultural milieu—and this is the conviction that animated the founding of Resound Project.
We are grounded in five Theological Commitments, which form the common ties for anyone in our Ministry Cohorts. These commitments leave room for participation from theological traditions and personal backgrounds beyond those who identify as Presbyterian or Reformed.
For those in our Emerging Leaders Programs, applicants must be able to affirm our Essentials of Faith.
We are centered on the unique Jesus. The gospel proclaims that God has drawn near to us—despite our rebellion and failure—in the person of his one and only Son. Jesus has done everything that is necessary to restore us in relationship to the triune God and to renew the whole world through his perfect life, atoning death, bodily resurrection, and promised return. Jesus is unique. There is no one like him and no other mediator between God and human beings. Jesus forms the center of all that we are and all that we aim to do through Resound Project.
We are anchored in historic Christianity. We wholeheartedly embrace the basic convictions which have been believed by the whole Church throughout its history and which are confessed in the ecumenical creeds of the early Church, particularly the Nicene Creed. The three basic convictions of the historic Christian faith are:
There is one God who eternally exists in a communion of three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
God the Son, the second person of the Trinity, became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus is both fully human and fully divine.
Jesus Christ died on the cross and was raised from the dead for the salvation of his people.
We are called to gospel mission together. God never calls us into relationship with himself without sending us out to engage the world. Jesus summons us to join him in his work of making himself known to the ends of the earth (Isaiah 49.6; Matthew 28.16-20). We, therefore, understand ourselves to be people who have been called and sent to proclaim the gospel of Jesus through our words and actions. The charge to “go into all the world” means that we must not only go both near and far geographically, but we must engage every realm of life with the message of the gospel.
We are committed to strengthening the local church through the local church. Jesus promised that he is building his Church, and not even the gates of hell shall prevail against it. Though the present state of the Church is in many ways divided, corrupted, broken and misguided she remains the bride of Christ. We long to live into our profession of the Church as “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” Jesus instructed his disciples that he would send his followers into the world as witnesses, ambassadors and agents of the kingdom of God. Despite all her flaws, the local church remains God’s primary instrument of mission in the world.
We are guided by the authoritative Scriptures. We believe that the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are inspired (God is their ultimate source) and infallible (completely trustworthy). The Scriptures are the ultimate authority for our faith and practice. Jesus reveals that the Scriptures find their focus and fulfillment not only in the Messiah, but also in God’s mission to the world. Just as the Scriptures were the primary means of shaping God’s people to participate in God’s mission in the beginning, so the authoritative Scriptures continue to be the primary means God uses to form his people to be his witnesses now.
Program Director, Resound Project