“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.