Author Archives: Rooted Network

3 Ways Rooted Combats Individualism

“I’d love to do Rooted! Do you offer it every night of the week, and can I pick and choose when (or if) I show up? If so, then I’m in!” –  Fortunately, no one has actually said this to me, but it’s what I assume every person in my congregation is thinking when I talk about Rooted. I recognize that committing to a 10-week experience, being required to show up every week and spending hours with people you might have never hand-picked for your group can feel like it’s infringing on your personal space. In our self-centered culture, it can feel a bit daunting. Rooted requires sacrifice and risk. It is counter-cultural. And yet, I think we would all say that the community Rooted creates is well worth the effort it takes to step out of our individualistic mindset. So, for those of you who need the reminder (myself included), here are 3 ways Rooted combats individualism and creates communities of committed disciples:

Individualism says: I’ll grow on my own time – don’t pressure me.

Rooted says:  We are better together, so let’s do this together!

Whether or not it’s on-campus, Rooted is a centralized model that creates sticking power. Everyone who wants to get into a life group must go through Rooted first because it sets the tone for how we do community in our church. We come as individuals and we grow together. People share and rally around a common language, the 7 Rhythms, and experiences. This is especially helpful as our Rooted groups transition into life groups. As groups take risks, share and listen to stories and engage with vulnerability, everyone learns how beautiful it is when we’re all in this together.

Individualism says: It’s too hard to be vulnerable. It’s easier (and safer) to be closed off.

Rooted says: Vulnerability is easy when you feel safe.

The best way to build authentic community is to create an environment where it’s safe to be vulnerable. While it doesn’t feel safe to join a group of complete strangers, the format of Rooted, especially the sharing of stories, immediately creates a safe and gracious environment. As the facilitators share their own faith journeys on the first week, it lets people know “none of us have it all together – and that’s ok!” The group begins to feel like the safest place to be just within the first few weeks. My suggestion: Building an environment of safety should be your number one priority in the first couple of weeks.

Individualism says: Discomfort is bad and must be avoided at all costs.

Rooted says: Being out of your comfort zone is good – it’s where God tends to do His best work!

No one likes to be forced to do anything but people do like the reward of doing things that are hard and good for them. For instance, I hate working out, and no one can force me to go to the gym. But when I commit to showing up, I always feel better afterwards. Rooted is our way of asking people to make a high-risk commitment and show up for ten weeks. And with each session of Rooted, we’ve seen that they can’t get enough of it! The life change that takes place during those ten weeks is worth all of the risk, sacrifice, and vulnerability. This is why we encourage our groups to make the effort to do the Prayer, Serve, and Share Your Story experiences. It’s hard work, and it can be uncomfortable, but we truly have seen God do His best work during those experiences.

Honestly (and don’t tell anybody), my favorite life groups are the ones that develop fresh out of Rooted. Why? Because they are the ones who are typically more committed to one another and invested in our church community, the ones who are more sacrificially generous with their time and money, the ones who step in to serve our church and get excited about serving their world. In just ten weeks, these individuals have learned the basics of sacrifice and commitment in and for community. They are more pumped about what God is doing in and through their group, and they are open to direction as they transition into life groups. As a pastor, this is what excites and encourages me most about Rooted!

What is one way that you can leverage the benefits of Rooted to inspire the disconnected individuals of your congregation?

Jonathan Reider serves as the discipleship pastor at Friends Church Orange, in Orange County California. He has been serving at Friends for over 12 years, and has been a part of both their main campus and multisite congregations. His heart is to help people experience the beauty of life with Jesus, lived out in community.

Preparing For Spiritual Battle

How To Equip Rooted Facilitators For The Reality Of A Spiritual Journey

Rooted, Hiking and the Spiritual Journey
A few summers ago my wife and I invited some of our close friends out to the mountains of Colorado for a week-long vacation. Our family owns a beautiful cabin in the mountains just outside of Colorado Springs, and we thought this would be an excellent way to spend time together, while also getting to relax and enjoy life. After a few days of being in Colorado, our friends wanted to go on a hike. 
Due to my physique and overall disinterest in exercise, I was not looking forward to it, but I obliged my friends and my wife, and off we went. That hike revealed to me the nuances of leading people through the Rooted Experience. It is a spiritual journey, which means a few things:

1. The best facilitators serve as tour guides.
As we started our hike I realized something: none of us had ever hiked on these mountains. Early on in our journey, I began asking, “Does anyone know where we are going?” The answer from everyone was a profound, no. Here we were, a group of people who didn’t know where they were going, didn’t know where to go and had no idea how to get home. 
If Rooted is a spiritual journey, then everyone needs a guide. Someone who can walk alongside their group and encourage them. The best facilitators are people who move with people through the journey, but also help them to recognize God’s presence as they grow and move forward. The beautiful thing is that a tour guide doesn’t have the limited knowledge that the rest of the group has, they have more. A great tour guide can direct their group because of what they have already experienced and seen. They have knowledge of God’s presence in their own spiritual journey. 
As you can imagine, our group was lost that day on the side of a mountain. It took us hours figure it out. We had no idea where we were going. I imagine if we had a guide, someone who was prepared to navigate us through our journey, we would have found our way home much more quickly.

2. People have baggage — it is your job to help them set it down.
I left out a small detail in this story — my wife, and I had recently adopted a Labrador retriever puppy, and we thought it would be a good idea to take him with us. His name is Chance (yes, like Chance the Rapper), he was a few months old at the time, and he was also not very interested in this hike. Within 30 minutes of us hiking, he decided he was done, laid down, and would not move. I had to carry him. This additional baggage made my hiking experience worse than I initially expected. Who knew how hard it would be to walk along the side of a cliff with a 25-pound puppy in your arms? 
When people choose to be a part of a spiritual journey, they bring every part of who they are with them — their past, their present, and their future. Unfortunately, for many of us, our past contains baggage. For some of us, that baggage looks like sin. For others, it could be trauma, or abuse, or fear, or depression and anxiety. The best facilitators — or tour guides — know how to help people set their baggage down.
As you train your facilitators, specifically for Week 5 and the Stronghold Experience, think about these few questions: Are our facilitators aware of what Care and Support ministries the church offers? Is there appropriate follow-up and care for our facilitators as they encounter their group members’ baggage? How can we better implement the rhythm of Freedom from Strongholds into other areas of our church?
Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to leave my dog on the side of that mountain. However, my wife and the rest of our group shared the load of carrying our dog down the mountain. The best facilitators can remind their group members that they are on this spiritual journey together, and if for some reason, they can’t set their baggage down right away, people are present to help them carry the load. 

3. The spiritual journey can be exhausting — how well are you resting?
After we made it home, our group was exhausted. Between hiking for hours, carrying a small animal, and arguing over how to get home, we had no energy left to offer to each other. The hike was beautiful, and the journey was worth it, but we were done. 
I love the people who want to facilitate year round. Rooted has become their ministry. It is the way that they serve God and His church. However, it is our responsibility as church leaders to make sure that those facilitators are not only cared for, but they are also being allowed to rest and prepare for another journey. 

As you prepare for the next session of Rooted, I would challenge you to ask this question: Are there any of these facilitators that need a break? Not because they aren’t great at what they do, but because a break will actually revitalize their spiritual journey and make them better facilitators in the future?

It can be tempting to so heavily rely on facilitators that we forget to give them appropriate time to refuel and rest. At Compass, we rely on volunteers at all of our campuses not just to facilitate rooted, but to also lead and train all of our facilitators. If those leaders have been actively leading people on a spiritual journey, they too need time to rest and refuel consistently. 


Rory Green is the Rooted and Teaching Pastor at Compass Christian Church, a multi-campus church in the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex.  Rory and his wife, Brooke live in the suburbs of Ft. Worth and have a chocolate lab named Chance.  He is a graduate of Lincoln Christian University and is working on his Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership from Hope International University.

5 Benefits of a Centralized Prayer Experience

Few things sound as overwhelming to Rooted Participants as the Prayer Experience. Two to three hours of praying during Week 3 of Rooted? Let’s be honest, most people don’t spend 30 minutes a day praying, much less a few hours seeking to hear from God. For many, the thought of the Prayer Experience conjures up fear, anxiety, and sounds just about as exciting as watching paint dry. However, it is a beautiful experience, and it is one they will walk away from feeling encouraged and reminded they can do this every day.

After the pilot rounds (please don’t skip these), our campuses made the shift to start hosting and centralizing the Prayer Experience. This may not work for everyone in every context, but below are five of the reasons we made this shift.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That | Participants don’t skip the experience.

Participating in Rooted is a big ask. Tack on a two-hour experience and we found pilot groups felt like they didn’t have margin. So, we flipped the ask: join us for two and a half hours for the Prayer Experience and then, find additional time (such as breaking the fast and eating dinner afterwards) to debrief that week’s daily devotions. Basically, if you are going to skip something, skip discussion, not prayer.

Get Woke with Lectio Divina | You can stretch your current prayer culture.

Every church has a liturgy, but ours is not a historically liturgical church. So, we wanted to stretch our Rooted participants through Lectio Divina (pages 108-109 of the Facilitator Guide). We also designed a prayer labyrinth and other experiential elements for the experience. One of our joys has been seeing people grow in comfort with these ancient practices and desire to use them.

It’s a Big Big House (without the football) | Larger spaces were less intimidating for people.

You probably know this, but it rains a lot here in the Pacific Northwest. Add the short days in fall and the cold of winter, and the ability to host a Prayer Experience outside is hit and miss. The logistics of sitting in a living room for two hours or asking a leader to open up every room in their home for people was a barrier. A centralized large space allows for people to move around independent of the weather. As an added bonus, it is absolutely beautiful to see every corner of our space used for prayer during the experience.

Leaders are People Too | Leaders get to participate more in the prayer time.

By centralizing, hosting, and using the Lectio Divina guide, leaders do not have to watch the time or carry the responsibility of creating the perfect prayer environment. Instead, they are able to guide their group and immerse themselves in the experience. Freeing their minds from the logistics of the experience frees their hearts to engage with God.

Bowling with Bumpers | You can develop younger staff in a safe environment.

Leadership development is a priority of our church, and yet finding great opportunities to let young staff lead is sometimes difficult. The Prayer Experience is one of the best environments to empower the people you are developing to lead. With a set structure in place, it gives them opportunities to learn how to set the tone for the experience, guide the participants through it and debrief with their group at the end.

There you have it, five reasons why we centralize our Prayer Experience. Doing this may not be for every church context, but it has worked well for us. And one of my favorite things about it is that the Prayer Experience is not just a Rooted event. We invite our staff and existing Home Communities to join us each round. It has become another tool for us to use as we pursue building prayer into the foundation of our culture and make it a rhythm for our whole church.

J. Grant Hickman is a Teaching Pastor and Rooted Champion at a multi-campus church in the greater Portland, Oregon area. He enjoys woodworking, surfing, and Texas, but mainly spending time with his wife Jenna and their five kids. Outside of exploring the PNW with his family he is working on a Doctorate in Ministry from Denver Seminary and loves equipping others to love like Jesus.

A Tool For Cultural Change

Over the last ten years, the Latino culture has changed drastically in the United States – especially in its perspective and involvement in the Church. The majority of people with Hispanic heritage come from a Catholic background. They’ve claimed Catholicism as their religion because it’s what their parents did and it was what they should do. But in the last decade, people have started craving real answers to real problems. They don’t just want to sit through a sermon; they want to be fed with practical wisdom they can apply in their day-to-day lives. They want to be discipled by the Church, rather than just attend on Sundays. They want to know God and live with purpose. As a result, we’ve seen a lot of Latinos move away from churches that hold their traditional, Catholic values and begin opting for Western-style churches. They are moving away from cultural Catholicism and morality and choosing to cultivate a real, live and active faith. We started picking up on this shift in our culture and felt God was giving our little community a great opportunity we didn’t want to miss.

LifeBridge En Español is the Spanish campus of LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont Colorado, which has been serving the city of Longmont for more than 125 years. When our mother church piloted Rooted, they invited us to join them. We launched Rooted within the same time frame and, as a small campus serving a specific community, we learned a lot:

  1. We learned the importance of a pilot. We joined our mother church in their pilot with key leaders from our church and it made all the difference. That time gave us clarity in the steps we would need to take to lead our church through change and integrate Rooted into our culture with intentionality, rather than diving in head first. We were able to work out the obstacles that might have stood in the way of a successful launch and a figure out how to contextualize Rooted for our community.
  2. We learned to be resourceful. As a small community, we didn’t have all the resources our mother church had when they launched Rooted. So, we learned to ask God to provide in our areas of need and be creative in our solutions. In our first session of Rooted, we realized we didn’t have a place to do baptisms. So, we made use of a galvanized tank from a farm and we baptized 15 people in the first two sessions. God moved. And God provided
  3. We learned how to rally our church around something new. Our ten weeks in pilot gave our leadership team time and space to really engage the experience and think strategically about how we would invite our church to participate and inspire them towards action. Our people were ready for something new, so we moved on it quickly. Being a smaller campus allowed us to be flexible, implement at a faster pace and use Rooted as a tool to meet that need. And our church community responded with enthusiasm because they felt heard.

As Latinos, we are very loyal to our tribe. So, though our people were connecting at LifeBridge En Español – it was on a surface level and, as a tribe, we were longing for greater depth in relationship with God and with each other. Rooted has become an essential tool for maintaining that unity we value living in while moving us to grow deeper together. It has been the catalyst for the connection we were all craving. Our numbers showed it. When we launched just over two years ago, more than 60% of the overall congregation participated in the first session. We were amazed at the response and affirmed that Rooted was exactly what our church needed. Half of our community is made up of people who came to know Christ, for the first time, on our campus. Rooted cleared the way for people new to our community and new to faith to connect, share stories and celebrate life events. And, ultimately, these experiences drew them to Christ.

There was a man in our second session who was really shy and didn’t want to open up. On the last day before our celebration, he shared: “I have been to almost every church in this city, and they always talk to me because of my guitar talent. This is the first church that has made me feel welcome as a person – not just because of my musical ability and what I have to offer, but because they actually care about me.”

People who felt ostracized now experience belonging. Those who felt like they were voiceless now have a voice. Not only that, they now have a group that will lean in and will listen as they share vulnerably about what they are going through and help them see God in their stories.

As our community grows, change is inevitable. Rooted has equipped us to take care of people with real-life problems and provide a safe space where they can talk openly. It has completely changed how we do small groups, how we raise up leaders and how we interact with the individuals in our community.

In 1 Chronicles 12, we see the list of tribes and men who joined David at Hebron to turn Saul’s kingdom over to him. Among them were men from the tribe of Issachar, “who understood the times and knew what Israel should do.” We feel like we are that tribe and we want to continue seeking to understand the times we are living in, the way culture is changing and influencing our people and we want to seek God and His wisdom in how to move our people in the right direction – closer to Him, closer to each other, and closer to their purpose.


Andy Gonzalez is the associate pastor at LifeBridge Christian Church En Español. He also serves as the worship leader and has worked in student ministry for over three years. Most recently, he and his wife have been keeping busy with their newborn, Lea, in Longmont, Colorado.

Why “Going There” is Worth the Risk

When I came onto staff at Mariners Church as the “story person,” I quickly began to feel the weight of holding someone’s story—and the fear of asking hard questions. In my role I was trusted to meet with individuals who were sharing the deepest pains of their life, yet when it came time to film, I shut down and told myself lies about my ability to hear their stories.

“They hinted to a traumatic experience…who am I to poke at it more? If they were truly ready to share, they already would have done so. I can tell this story without any of the specifics…”

This mindset trapped me for over a year, and instilled a fear and hesitancy in my interviewing posture. “I don’t have enough relationship to go there with them! What if I make things feel unsafe?” 

These lies told me it was better to appear cautious than overbearing. It wasn’t until I saw a story play that left the audience with the job of piecing together the plot points, that I realized the danger in being cautious. In this story, the subject was hinting at a trauma he experienced as a child. The audience heard:

“It happened at home. I saw myself differently after that.”

Me, the interviewer, knowing the context, thought his allusion was sufficient, and that the vague response would allow the audience to plug and play their own story into the scenario. What I didn’t realize, was how harmful that was for not only the subject, but the audience. What was “it” that happened? Was it assault? Was it something he did or was done to him? I saw the engaged faces of the audience turn to introspection, away from the story in front of them. It took them down a path to find resolution with their own trauma, because there was no longer a promise of resolution on the screen. It was unsafe.

I knew had to approach interviews more ruthlessly in order to give the audience a clear path to travel.

Rooted celebration came a few weeks later. I have the honor of going through the Rooted cards and choosing individuals to share. I decided that this time, I’d dig a bit deeper than what was written down.

It started simply, but boldly. I asked, “Would you be willing to share what that shame was about…specifically?”

We hide so many details of our lives behind closed doors, mostly due to shame. There is a fear in opening a door and releasing whatever darkness lives behind it. But what we see on display in Rooted, is the power of “me, too.” When we share our stories, doors are swung opened, and someone in the group starts to believe, “If they can draw their secret out…maybe I can too. Maybe I can bring this shame into the light and remove its hold on me.” And while there is power in saying “I have addiction…I struggle with anxiety…I am trapped by envy…” there is another victory just below the surface. Addiction to what? Anxiety from where? Envious of whom?

I once thought “who am I to go there with this person?”  Your calling to lead your group, your own experience of freedom in sharing your story—that qualifies you. The safety you create in your group, and your willingness to lead by example, will invite others to do the same. Some might not be ready, and there is still great power in the broad strokes, but my encouragement to you, is to take a chance and see what the power of specificity can unlock not just for those listening, but for the person sharing. More often than not, people are waiting for the invitation to go deeper, they are seeking freedom. To know the intimate details of our stories are not too much for others to walk into, is the transcendent power of community, and it lies in the courageous pursuit of honest storytelling.


Alana Aronson is the Story Curator at Mariners Church, Irvine. She cares deeply about people, and believes in the unity and empowerment that emerges when an individual shares his or her story. Leading the Story and Video Team at Mariners, Alana is passionate about putting God’s work on display through honest and creative communication.

Why We Celebrate

A few years ago, my mom bought me an album called “The Art of Celebration.” Yeah…my mom still buys me music. But that’s not the point. What I love about the album is that it captures the very essence of celebration: connecting the dots between the major experiences in our lives (both painful and beautiful) and seeing that the common thread is the hope of the Gospel. And it is this Gospel that we celebrate when we gather at the end of each Rooted session.

When we celebrate, we do so for 2 major reasons: To Mark a Moment and To Build Momentum.

To Mark a Moment

For every single person at the celebration, they have a chance to mark a moment. For some, it is a moment to stand and say “I Believe in Jesus” for the first time. Some will get baptized. For some, it is a chance to re-commit to Jesus. For others, it is an opportunity to see the fruit of their 10-week discipleship of new believers. No matter where someone is at the beginning of Rooted, they come away changed – and we want to celebrate what God has done! For all of them, we provide a moment to remember what God has done. What can you do this session to truly make this a memorable moment?

To Build Momentum

As we say at our celebration, Rooted is not the end…it is just the beginning. So we celebrate not just to look back, but to launch ourselves into the new life that Jesus is calling each of us to. That’s why we commission all of our Rooted attendees to go and be world-changers. That’s why we tell them about becoming a Life Group, and serving, and being missionaries for Jesus. When you celebrate, remember that you are not wrapping up a program, but you are unleashing Christ-followers to live out the Great Commission in their communities, their cities, and their world!

I am moved at every Rooted celebration as people walk up front with their cardboard testimony of life change, stand up to say “I believe” for the very first time, step into the waters of baptism and emerge markedly different.  We’ve seen women given dignity and a voice for the very first time. We’ve seen grown men cry as they flip their cardboard testimonies over to show what God has done in their hearts. We’ve seen marriages restored, relationships mended, faith re-kindled, and souls healed. It’s these stories, and hundreds more, that remind me why we celebrate – because God is pursuing each of us, connecting the dots of our stories and reminding us of the hope we have because of Christ’s finished work on the cross.

And that, my friends, is something worth celebrating!


Jonathan Reider serves as the discipleship pastor at Friends Church Orange, in Orange County California. He has been serving at Friends for over 12 years, and has been a part of both their main campus and multisite congregations. His heart is to help people experience the beauty of life with Jesus, lived out in community.

Letters From The Future

There is an episode on the hit television show “The Office” where paper salesman Jim Halpert sends a fax to his former co-worker, Dwight Schrute. From time to time, Jim sends Dwight faxes…from future Dwight.

A rather gullible Dwight receives a fax that reads, “Dwight, at 8:00 a.m. today, someone poisons the coffee. Do not drink the coffee. More instructions will follow. Cordially, Future Dwight.” Dwight precedes to knock a steaming hot cup of coffee out of one of his co-worker’s hands with the pronouncement of, “You’ll thank me later.”

When Compass launched Rooted in the Winter of 2016 we could not have predicted the impact it would have on our people and our church. As we’ve grown and done session after session over the past couple of years, we’ve learned a lot that we didn’t know at the beginning. So, if Compass were to write a letter today to our 2016 selves about Rooted, here are the three things we would have said:

Prayer Is a Game Changer

Since we started Rooted, thousands of people have found community, prayed together, shared strongholds, and begun practicing sacrificial generosity in a way that has made space for the Kingdom of God to move closer. Of course, we’ve encountered spiritual opposition. The Enemy hates what is happening and has continually worked to create disunity amongst our staff. We have seen marriages struggle and sickness rise up. And we’ve felt an even greater need to pray as a staff. So, every Monday a dozen or so staff participate in a prayer experience we call Fight Club (I have just broken the first rule). We get into the arena and fight the enemy by turning to God who has already claimed victory for our staff and our church. Launching Rooted at your church will undoubtedly lead to tremendous life change and spiritual growth among your community, but it will also bring much conflict. For us, prayer has been the secret weapon to hold it all together.

Strongholds Week Is Just The Beginning 

Week 5 of Rooted is always the best and most exhausting. People share the deepest, darkest parts of their souls (maybe for the first time) and experience God’s forgiveness and love as their community leans in even more to support and encourage them. While God does set many people completely free from their strongholds in week 5, we’ve realized that for many people it is just the beginning of a much larger and much longer conversation. Rooted forced us to rethink what our Care and Support ministry looked like at Compass. We boosted our recovery programs, developed a broader partnership with a local counseling center, revamped our marriage ministries, and even hired additional staff to support these moves. Strongholds, or week 5, is just the beginning of the growth process for people, not the be-all and end-all.

People Need “Next Steps”

I once heard someone say that Rooted is not the mission, Rooted is base camp. In other words, Rooted isn’t where spiritual growth and life change reaches its pinnacle, but often where it begins. Because of this, people need to know their next step when the ten weeks are up and the celebration is over. The resounding question you will hear after Rooted ends is, “What’s next?” When we first launched, we didn’t have a good answer. Your people will want to know how to continue praying like they did during the prayer experience. Your people will want to know how to continue serving in the community. Start thinking about the “next steps” for your church before you ever hear someone ask for them.

You’ll thank me later. 


Rory Green is the Rooted and Teaching Pastor at Compass Christian Church, a multi-campus church in the Dallas/Ft Worth Metroplex.  Rory and his wife, Brooke live in the suburbs of Ft. Worth and have a chocolate lab named Chance.  He is a graduate of Lincoln Christian University and is working on his Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership from Hope International University.

How To Make Your Launch An All-Skate

As a kid, there was nothing better than the birthday party at the SkatePlex – the smell of sweat and mold, employees who didn’t care as much as they should (just as much as they were paid), and the “all-skate.” I thought of this analogy so many times when we first launched Rooted. We couldn’t have pulled it off without everyone jumping in and playing their part.

In church settings, the area of community, small groups, or spiritual formation is often relegated to a few individuals who seem to be best at winning the skating limbo. The bar continues to lower. And we watch with anticipation to see who will survive and take ownership. This, of course, is not because the staff doesn’t want individuals to grow in their faith. It is because people are messy, and getting them to grow in community together is even messier.

Let’s be honest, Rooted can be a beast to launch. Between the launch date itself, getting people into groups, finding leaders, the prayer experience, serve experiences, money talk, strongholds, and organizing and pulling off the celebration, it can all be a bit overwhelming.

This is why Rooted must be an ALL-SKATE for the church.

Here are three quick things to keep in mind as you strive to include everyone:

  1. People help promote what they help create. Avoid Rooted becoming siloed out to only the “groups” team. Invite representatives from different departments to help you plan Rooted.
  2.  Empower new or young staff  to grow in leadership. The centralized prayer experience, or the Just-in-Time trainings are the perfect opportunities to help them grow in pastoring.
  3. Get the buy-in from everyone on the staff. This includes inviting people to Rooted and leading Rooted. One of the most successful ways we have seen this work is to have the staff invite people to join the Rooted group they are leading.

On an even more practical level, we have also found the use of RASCI to be really helpful.

For those not familiar with RASCI or it’s many derivatives, it is a responsibility assignment matrix. Each letter stands for a different role that can be assigned to an individual or individuals for any given task. If you are interested in reading more about it, check out this Wikipedia article. Yes, I know I just linked Wikipedia, but in the words of the great philosopher Michael Scott, “Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject. So you know you are getting the best possible information.”

In short, break down each moving part of Rooted and assign tasks to the different team members. Some will be Responsible for completing the task, one will be held Accountable to make sure it happens, some give Support, others need to be Consulted and others Informed.

Most of us already do this informally in some way, but having it written down helps to clarify communication between departments. For instance, here is a RASCI that might reflect the Money Talk during week 8:

This may seem a bit overwhelming in the beginning, but having a clear path internally helps to make sure that the Launch of Rooted goes well.

Make your Rooted launch an all-skate, and don’t be that guy skating counter-clockwise while everyone else is going clockwise. Nobody likes that guy.


J. Grant Hickman is a Teaching Pastor and Rooted Champion at a multi-campus church in the greater Portland, Oregon area. He enjoys woodworking, surfing, and Texas, but mainly spending time with his wife Jenna and their five kids. Outside of exploring the PNW with his family he is working on a Doctorate in Ministry from Denver Seminary and loves equipping others to love like Jesus.

3 Keys To A Successful Pilot

We’ve seen our share of small group initiatives. At my 125 year old church, LifeBridge Christian Church, I’ve been a part of a variety of group initiatives that connected people to community but often lacked the true heart of what we hoped would happen; real transformation.

Over time, this has produced a cynicism in our staff around community and the role that small groups play in spiritual formation. And I get it, how many “burst group” initiatives do we need to try before we see sustained energy around gathering in authentic, purposeful, and missional community?

Enter Rooted; a very different approach to group life that delivers real results.

While we were eager to see results in our church, we knew that getting the right people on board at the right time was going to make all the difference. Our pilot process consisted of these three things:

  •  Start Small: Pilot the experience before you do an all-church launch. We like to see big change happen quickly and it took many conversations and the cost of time to justify taking a slower approach, but it was worth it.
  • Start Internally: Have your staff go through it first. If we never saw another result out of Rooted, this step was worth the time and investment for what we saw God do in our staff. I’ll never forget seeing our Executive Pastor hold up his cardboard testimony at the celebration reading “skeptical” on one side and “expectant” on the other.
  • Start Right: Watch God build momentum through stories of transformation. It doesn’t matter how long your church has been around, seeing Jesus transform lives never gets old.

The success of Rooted is what caught our attention but it was the pilot process and the transformation we saw in our team that made all the difference.


Sean Badeer is the Connections Pastor at LifeBridge Christian Church in Longmont, CO. He is passionate about Jesus, people, guitars, and loves investing in the next generation of church leaders. He and his wife Averi are Nebraska natives who are living the dream in Colorado with their dog Kanye.

Disciple-Making: From Teaching to Life-Transforming Experiences

Mariners Church leaders affectionately call the weekend that U-turned the course of their California congregation and its discipleship model as “The Great Slap.”

Mariners was hosting their international church partners and showcasing its multisite locations and multi-faceted program options when the visitors from around the world hit the Mariners staff with a hard reality.

“The American church is arrogant,” they said.

The statement felt harsh, but you know what? It was true. With all our money and beautiful buildings and programs, we thought we knew more than the rest of the world. And our partners graciously called us out on that when they asked: “When are you going to be willing to learn and listen to the Global Church? The Gospel is spreading around the world, but not here.” It was a tough message to absorb. But the question provided our leaders with the opportunity to start practicing the very thing they were inviting us to do. Heeding this message led church leaders to put Mariners’ process for developing believers under the microscope, and completely revamp the way we execute our mission of “transforming ordinary people into passionate followers of Jesus who are fearlessly changing the world.”

Up until that point, we had what I would call a ‘beautiful menu’ of options for people and to help them grow spiritually. We wanted to make sure anyone could come to our church and find whatever they needed and whatever was best for them. And as we examined our current methods, we started to see that though Mariners had menu of options – many front doors – we couldn’t actually point to one where true life transformation was happening.

A New Model From Abroad

We began to take a hard look at what it means to be a disciple-making church with measurable results – believing that making disciples leads to life change, and then multiples as people live out their faith in community. The result of our examination led us to a new church structure called the “Transformational Loop”. It also led us to “Mizizi”, the discipleship tool our Kenyan partner, Mavuno Church was using. The life change happening through Mizizi was so fruitful, that we got rid of our menu options, adapted the tool to fit our local context and made Rooted the front door to our church.

Centered in the “rooted” concept of Ephesians 3:17-19, it is different than anything the church has done in the its 51-year history. For starters, the 10-week time frame was a departure from the church’s traditional six-week small group offerings. We ran a lot of discipleship models before based on what we thought people would be willing to do. When we changed and started asking more of our people with a 10-week commitment, five nights of homework, three additional meetings for experiences, we were concerned that no one would take a risk and do it. What we learned was that people were willing to step up to whatever bar we set for them.

More Caught than Taught

Beyond changing the time commitment, we also wrestled with a harder truth that set the stage for the format of Rooted. It became apparent that while we had always done a great job of teaching God’s word, we had not done a great job of creating environments where we were asking questions and listening to the people we were leading and teaching.

A woman in one of our early Rooted sessions was in a group led by a pastor who had been on staff for many years. One night the woman looked at the whole group and said, ‘We don’t really believe in that story of Noah’s ark, right?’ Just when you wanted to gasp and say ‘How could you say such a thing?’ another guy pops up and says, ‘Yeah, and what about the story of the Red Sea? Does anybody really believe that actually happened?’ ” The incident, solidified that while we may be teaching a lot of great biblical truths, it doesn’t guarantee they are being received. A key component of Rooted facilitator training is asking questions and listening not teaching. We want our Rooted facilitators to hospitably create space where people can question, explore and experience.

There are thousands of discipleship methods in North America, and I think I studied all of them. What I found is they all pretty much have the same content. What makes Rooted different is that it’s based on experiential learning rather than a lecture or leader teaching each week.

Life transformation comes more through experiences than through knowledge. Teaching comes in and goes out.  Very little of it stays. But if you can share an experience together and do something, it changes people.

So when it comes time for Rooted participants to learn about serving, for instance, the groups don’t get a sermon—they serve in the community together for a day. Learning about confession and accountability is an experience during which Rooted participants are very transparent, confess strongholds and sin in their lives and every individual is prayed over to break the strongholds. Learning about prayer is a three-hour “prayer experience” participants can’t believe they’ve completed when it’s over. “Everybody always says, ‘There is no way I thought I could pray for three hours,’ Shelly says, ‘but I heard from God for the first time, we need to this more often.” I heard God’s voice.’”

Beyond a program, seminar or small group, Rooted is a catalyst for life-change. Rooted provokes questions and conversations and offers beyond-what-is-comfortable group experiences designed to connect people to God, the church and their purpose. It has become the place we can point to and say: “Life transformation is happening here.”


Shelly Juskiewicz is the Community Life and Leadership Development Pastor at Mariners Church in Irvine California. She is a part of the Irvine Lead Team overseeing all Adult Ministries, Care and Recovery, as well as their Discipleship Ministries: Rooted and Life Groups. She has a passion to see churches collaborate to expand the Kingdom of God through Volunteer Leadership Development and Discipleship. She has been married to Ron for 30 years and loves to be with her family and go on crazy adventures.