Why You Should Go Big with Your Rooted Pilot (And How)

This post was written by Derek Alonzi. Derek is the Director of Partnerships for the Rooted Network and leads our team of church practitioners and coaches to equip and inspire churches around the globe with better discipleship strategies. Before his time with Rooted, he served as a Campus Pastor Champion at 2|42 Community Church in Michigan over seeing 3 of their 7 campuses as well as leading various adult ministries church-wide.


So often, when churches begin exploring the 10-week Rooted experience, they begin with a single pilot group. That generally means 8-15 decision-makers, staff, and key church leaders gathering weekly to experience the Rooted journey in hopes of bringing it to their church as a long-term disciples-making strategy.

But a single group is usually too small.

The primary struggle for churches who start with one pilot group is… “We loved Rooted, but we don’t have enough facilitators to launch in our church body. What do we do?”

Our Rooted network coaches have the honor of meeting with hundreds of churches each month, and the too-small pilot is a consistent pain point we see. If you expect to implement the 10-week Rooted experience as a discipleship starting point, group formation strategy, and leader development system, we encourage you to expand your pilot to more than one group.

Here’s some helpful math:

1 Pilot Group = 3-4 Launch Groups

Because each Rooted group needs two facilitators, and it is unlikely that 100% of your pilot participants will end up leading Rooted groups, using a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio in your pilot planning will help you be ready for a full, powerful launch.

For example, if you hope to see twenty new groups form through Rooted this fall or winter, you’ll need to have at least five pilot groups walking through Rooted this summer/fall. That gives you the opportunity to prepare enough facilitators to scale while also being prepared for the fact that not all of your pilot participants will lead during launch.

The more trusted leaders in your congregation who can experience Rooted this summer, the better chance you’ll have to help all of your people connect with Rooted this fall. And you still have time to make it happen this summer.

Steps to take:

  • Pray.
    Pause right now, and pray that God will open your eyes to those in your congregation who love Him, follow Him, and long to see others discipled. Remember, those who are the best at facilitating Rooted are usually those who are good at listening and asking questions and loving, not teaching and preaching. Who comes to mind?


  • List.
    Compile a thorough list of those who could or should be discipling others or launching new groups.


  • Reach out.
    Begin, this week, sending “I see in you” emails, texts, or calls. These are just encouraging touch-points to help those on your list know that you believe they could make a discipleship impact. This gets the conversation started.
    Example: “Hi John, we are in the process of learning about a new discipleship and group formation strategy for our church. You came to my mind as someone who could be a great disciple-maker because _____, ________ and _______ (2-3 reasons you think they’d be a fit). We’re starting a few more pilot groups in hopes of being ready for a big launch in the fall. Did you know we have _______ disconnected people in our church (number of people in your church who are not in groups)? Would you go on this Rooted journey this summer so more folks can come to know and follow Jesus in transformative ways?”


  • Order.
    Pick up more Rooted books and plan to start a pilot phase in early July. You have time to onboard the leaders you need to be ready for the fall.

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” – Matthew 9:35-38

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