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PODCAST 019: Church Anywhere, Jared Kirkwood, & Discipleship


We’re in Week 3 of this deep dive into the Online Ministry at First Capital Christian Church. Church Anywhere, as it’s called, utilizes its Church Online broadcasts as a way to cluster people together into communities and disciple their members and attenders away from just consuming content towards literally “being” the church in the community.

Honestly, is this not the biggest challenge facing the church today? How do we move our attenders away from being consumers and get them to the place where they are disciples who are capable creating other disciples?

To that end, we set up this conversation, inviting Tyler Samson back to the podcast. Tyler’s no stranger to THE CHURCH DIGITAL PODCAST (see Episode 017: Stories from Church Anywhere & Episode 018: Randy Kirk, Church Anywhere, & Not My Kingdom) but we added to the Podcast, Jared Kirkwood, one of the Pastors at Mariners Church, as well as, the Pastor overseeing Rooted.

Rooted ( is a highly effective discipleship material that helps create disciples who in turn are capable of creating disciples… ironically, Rooted is the discipleship material First Capital Christian uses as their discipleship pathway, which made for a fascinating conversation not only on how to make a disciple online, but how to make a disciple in general.

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Guest: Tyler Sansom
First Capital Christian Church / Church Anywhere

Guest: Jared Kirkwood
Mariners Church / Rooted
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // LinkedIn

Host: Jeff Reed
Twitter // Facebook // Instagram // LinkedIn

Co-Host: Rey DeArmas
Christ Fellowship Miami Online
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We know these conversations are out there are hard. Even the best of churches haven't figured out... If this podcast is helping you and your church work through what Church Online is, then help us impact other churches! Take a moment and leave us a brief review!
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Feedback on the podcast is vital as well. Leave comments on the podcast, or comment on this post! I'd love to know your thoughts and how we can serve your church better.
Love you all! Praying for your Churches and your Ministry Online.
Jeff Reed


Jeff Reed: 00:00 Hey everybody, welcome to The Church Digital Podcast. My name is Jeff and I am excited that you all are here today. This is episode 19. By the way, can you believe we've done 19 of these episodes? I just on a personal note, I just want to tell you all, I hope that this has been a beneficial resource for you all. It's been great having these conversations, digging deep into what church online can be, what church online should be, and hopefully these resources not only in the technical aspects but in the ministry side and the small group, Biblical community, the discipleship aspect of church online. Hopefully this has been a rewarding benefit for you and is making your ministries better. By the way, we are not slowing down the next couple months are going to be phenomenal and I'm really excited to continue this podcast and bring you all into these conversations as we discover what's working at church online, how people are seeing success, and how God is blessing the ministry of Church Online across the country.

Jeff Reed: 01:02 Well cool, we've got a great episode here at episode 19. We're going to be digging in talking about discipleship in context of Church Anywhere. This is our third week talking about Church Anywhere. As you may remember, Church Anywhere is a program that's set up by First Capital Christian Church that really utilizes their online campus as a way to cluster and gather people together into physical space. They're literally doing micro locations in office workspaces, in prisons, in a hospital, Rehab centers, homeless centers, and afterschool centers, even in homes, gathering people together to watch the broadcast, to do Bible studies, to grow together in the physical space, as well as, watching and processing things through the church online broadcasts and they've seen some phenomenal results of it. We've talked about it in past podcasts, but as many as 450 people scattered across this small town in Corydon, Indiana have watched and are part of these church online locations.

Jeff Reed: 02:10 And it's phenomenal to see this ministry happen. But the challenge before First Capital Christian is how to create a disciple who can in turn create disciples. As that ministry has grown as many as 16 micro locations that are meeting any given week, they've grown past the ability to have staff. So we've got to empower volunteers to do that. How do you take a volunteer? How do you take in a church attender? How do you take a consumer and groom that person to the point that they are now a disciple who can create a disciple? And it's that discipleship process that I want to dig in. What's the material? What's that conversation? What does that look like? That span of time where you take someone who was as an outsider at church, may not truly understand, and then groom them to the place where they are a disciple who is now capable of leading others to Christ and leading others to a deeper relationship with Christ through discipleship.

Jeff Reed: 03:13 That's the core of the conversation today. And to dig in, here's what we're going to do. We're going to bring in Tyler Samson once again from First Capital Christian. He's the Engagement Pastor over there at First Capital. We're going to bring in Rey DeArmas, who is the Online Pastor of Christ Fellowship Miami and a dear friend, of course. And we're also going to bring in Jared Kirkwood. Jared is the Pastor in charge of this discipleship material called Rooted, which is based out of Mariners Church. Now here's what's interesting, Jared is a pastor at Mariners Church. Some of you may remember back in Episode 9 & 10, Eric Geiger, Lead Pastor at Mariners Church was on this podcast. It was a complete coincidence that we're going back to Mariners for this. We were interested in having this conversation on discipleship at First Capital Christian.

Jeff Reed: 04:04 Come to find out that First Capital Christian has based their discipleship pathway off of this material called Rooted, which is distributed and managed here in the United States by Mariners Church, out in California. So we're going coast to coast here, conversations in Miami, talking with a church in California about how people in Indiana make disciples, online church is phenomenal. I love what we're seeing here. So ladies and gentlemen, I bring to you this conversation, discipleship in context of church online. Jared Kirkwood from Rooted, Tyler Sampson, Engagement Pastor at First Capital, Rey DeArmas, Christ Fellowship Miami and myself, Jeff with The Church Digital, hope you all enjoy this and here you go.

Jared Kirkwood: 04:50 So Rooted is a 10 week small group experience that helps people within the church get connected to God, the church and ultimately, to discover their purpose. We use Rooted at Mariners as a tool to help anybody who comes to our weekend service that's looking for their next step. This is a not only an assimilation tool, but it's a generator of small groups. It's a cultural baseline. It's the way in which we create shared experiences and common language so that everybody who comes to our church that says, how do I get involved? They go through Rooted, at the other side of that, that Rooted group becomes a life group. That life group has a rhythm of serving and praying and these other rhythms that exist within the rooted material, that helps them understand what does it look like to be equipped for group life at Mariners. And so now part of my role is overseeing Rooted at Mariners but also equipping the roughly 800 churches that are using Rooted all across the country. And so I spent a large part of my day doing coaching calls, coming alongside churches that are trying to figure out how to implement rooted within their context, and then we run various training retreats and all that kind of stuff throughout the year.

Jeff Reed: 05:54 Awesome. And so that's Mariners Church by the way, that's Eric Geiger, if you want to go back to episode, I want to say it was 9 and 10. The famous Geiger, we're bringing in some more people from Mariners and honestly, like that wasn't intentional. The real reason we brought this podcast together was because we were talking about First Capital Christian and how they've created this discipleship process that takes a volunteer and creates an opportunity to create a disciple who's comfortable with leading and doing more discipleship, disciples creating a disciple. And we're seeing that happen in context with First Capital Christian's Church Anywhere program. A couple episodes ago, Episode 17, we were talking with, Cindy and Brad, Brad Reed, my brother from another mother, who are volunteers, who are basically campus pastors at these Church Anywhere programs.

Jeff Reed: 06:52 Cindy leads a Hodgkin's Rehab Center. I think that sees like 40 people a week coming together to experience church in that Rehab Center's basically conference room or community center. And Brad is part of a church service for, I felt like it was anywhere between 30 to almost 300 people, sometimes.

Tyler Samson: 07:15 About 350.

Jeff Reed: 07:15 Yeah. And so just depending upon what week it is and whether the prisoners can all come together or not. But that's a phenomenal thing when you think that, you know, First Capital Christian is empowering these people to basically go out and be the spiritual shepherds responsible for these souls at these locations. And so I wanted to explore a little bit more of this. And Tyler, you guys have been using it at First Capital, you've been using the Rooted material for awhile now, right?

Tyler Samson: 07:48 Yeah. We went through it as a staff, in an elder group first. We call our elders, shepherds. So if I slip up and say, shepherds, know that that's the same thing as elders. But we went through it as a staff and shepherds, first, and loved it. And then we launched our first group, I would say probably a year and a half ago. So we've been doing Rooted for about a year and a half, going on two years.

Jeff Reed: 08:14 How has that experience gone for you, Tyler? Like, what has that felt like? What have you seen come from that?

Tyler Samson: 08:21 Oh man, it's been amazing. I love it. It was really hard at first. So we did the 10 week experience during the work day. The first time we did it just because of scheduling and it was just staff. So that made it a little difficult to motivate yourself to want to stop for an hour or two during a workday. But man, it was so rewarding. Specifically, there is a prayer experience that really stands out that every time I've done it I feel like I've got a different, God telling me something out of it even though I've done Rooted multiple times now.

Jeff Reed: 08:56 I've heard about that prayer time, even from other people that have gone through it and seen how that really has had an impact in people's lives. Before we go any further, let's stop and kind of just pick this apart because the word discipleship, I mean, I can say that to probably 10 different people. What does discipleship mean? And I'll probably get back 15 answers because it just, it's so varying at levels. Jared, as somebody who's written this discipleship material that's really used as the framework, the way that you guys have created it at Mariners, kind of this front door to leading towards groups and other community and things, you know, how do you guys at Mariners define discipleship?

Jared Kirkwood: 09:41 Sure. So just to clarify, while I have done lots of writing and contribution to Rooted, I didn't originate this program. It actually comes from a partner Church of ours in Kenya, which is a big part of our story. So, you know, the funny thing about trying to make disciples is it is an intentional conversation that really points back to the Gospels about what does it mean to follow Jesus. And I think you said it really well, Jeff, that disciples make disciples. So it's not a what conversation as much as it's a how. So it's a real strategic conversation about, okay, so how on earth do we help the average person become more like Jesus? And a part of that is an entire conversation around church strategy. What is it? What are the markers of a Jesus follower? It's a leadership development conversation. There's a maturity conversation.

Jared Kirkwood: 10:25 So there's a lot of stuff that goes into how do we help someone become more like Jesus, right? In America, that's usually a western approach, which is about intellect and knowledge informing our behavior. If I can learn enough, it should inform how I live my life. Well, we all know in Romans 7 is a good validation for this, that I can know what is right and still do what is wrong. So there's gotta be more than just an intellectual approach to understanding what does it mean to follow Jesus. And for us at Mariners for years, we had great small group programs. We had lots of, you know, adult education. We had classes, we had great opportunities for people to grow in their understanding of God. Hoping that that would really help inform their behavior to become more like Jesus. But what we learned from our partners in Kenya was that it's more of an experiential model that leads to the true kind of behavioral change, which then of course knowledge and intellect is all wrapped up into that.

Jared Kirkwood: 11:22 But if we are going to the places that Jesus went doing the things that Jesus did, we aren't actually becoming more like Jesus. We're just thinking more like Jesus. So we found this program that they were doing over 10 years ago. We met them through our partnership and we said, hey, could we kind of translate this and bring it back to contextualize it really to what it would look like to use for our church in southern California? And they said, sure. So we brought it back, did it at Mariners, and we taught it and it was more like a small group model with the curriculum that was sort of fueling it. And quite frankly, it just didn't work. So we went back to them and said, what did we do wrong? And they said, you did everything wrong. So they said, well, we'll come back and we'll help you figure out how to do it.

Jared Kirkwood: 12:07 We spent the next year or two after that, this is around 2008-2010, right around in there where they started helping us understand more of a, for lack of a better generalization, an eastern approach, which it ties in much more experiential learning than just intellect and understanding. And so that really informed the way in which we want it to approach discipleship at Mariners. And so since then Rooted has been a program that hinges on these experiences. And Tyler mentioned the prayer experience already. We would also talk about the serve experience, be an element where we need, as a group, we need to go out and serve our community so that we can go be a part of what Jesus is doing in our city. Be a part of the story that God is writing in our neighborhoods. Right. We'd also would include sharing our story as a critical component of that.

Jared Kirkwood: 12:57 So one of the things that I think the Western church has, you're either really good at it or you don't do it, which is evangelism, right? Sharing our own story, you either do it because your Senior Pastor loves evangelism and it's hardwired into your DNA, or you don't do it because it's really hard. Well, what Rooted does is it helps people see that evangelism doesn't have to be telling my testimony. It can actually be talking about what God's doing in my life right now and leads me to my family or my workplace or neighborhood and allows me to share my story of what God's doing in my life today, right? A little different than how we typically talk about evangelism. So as you can see, when we approach discipleship, we want to come from an experiential angle that allows people to intermingle intellect and experience so that we might actually think like Jesus, but also do things more like he did, hoping that we develop more integrated spirituality in our life rather than just simply knowledge base.

Jeff Reed: 13:54 I've worked in churches personally, that have been on both sides of that coin, that, that have been very evangelical driven, where like we're out there, we're witnessing, we're sharing. I've worked with churches that, you know, do the hey, let's, you know, invite to the service, let the lead pastor do the witnessing, but your job is just to get them in the pew. I've worked with churches that are very, grow-oriented where it's not necessarily evangelism, as much as, hey, when a person outgrows the evangelical church, they're going to come over and just, you know, take part of what's over here. We get our growth when churches, you know, just want to get more in a growth. And obviously there's pros and cons to all that. Some churches would say that there's a difference between discipleship and small groups. Some churches that would say it's the same. I'm just curious as a guy who works so much in context of coaching and helping churches through this, like what's your opinion on all this? What, what is the role of discipleship in groups? What's that relationship look like?

Jared Kirkwood: 14:52 Sure. It's would be very difficult to separate the two out as if they're mutually exclusive, but I do believe that those of us who are growing to become more like Jesus would have a very difficult time doing it outside of community. Community is a critical element to being a part of following Jesus, and so you saw Jesus build it with his disciples. You saw those apostles then do that with their communities. You saw Paul travel around the ancient areas, building churches that were communities that were sharing things. They were praying for one another. They were working together for the good of the city. So a small group has become our approach to ensure that to become more like Jesus, I have to do it with others. Right. That's also discipleship.

Jared Kirkwood: 15:44 The problem though is that most churches that I've worked with, and to be honest, it was our own church a number of years ago that most small groups turn into cul-de-sacs. They become, to make it actually a little bit of a sadder phrase, most small groups become support groups. They become places in which we spend time together so that I can talk about my problems. I can vent my frustrations and I can receive prayer that I kind of need from my people. But a support group is not what I saw Jesus create with his disciples. I saw him activating people who are following Jesus and saying, we're going to go and do something. This is going to be about us. But it's also going to be about, actually it maybe better said is it's going to be God's work within us, but also God's work through us to benefit those around us. So what do you guys think?

Rey DeArmas: 16:32 No, that's solid Jared. You know, and I've even seen this in my own small group where when challenge is presented in small groups, it seems like folks want to take a step back as opposed to embracing the challenge and taking a step forward in their faith. And so what are some ways that you guys encourage folks to take a step forward? Because it almost seems like small groups tend to be the pathway that we introduce new Christians who are obviously like the most excited people about growing in their faith. At least that's been my experience. So they're willing to like take those big leaps early on, whereas the people who've kind of been coddled in church or they've been at church for awhile, well I'm just here to receive and I'm just kinda here to just check things out. And so how do you guys kind of wrestle with that tension?

Jared Kirkwood: 17:14 Yeah, great question Ray. So part of it is within Rooted, which becomes our, it's our cultural baseline where we're going to help you understand what does it look like to be equipped for life in community, to really be in a life group at our church. And so there are these seven rhythms and I'd actually love to hear Tyler talk about how this has been expressed at First Capital. But in these seven rhythms, we're going to create some habits that your group is going to eventually do together once you graduate Rooted. So when you move on to become a life group, you're not going to forget everything you learned in Rooted. Instead, you're going to use it as a launching pad for the things that we did together, like that prayer experience. We're going to continue to pray together, both in our group, but we're going to set aside extended periods of time to pray for our city, for our neighbors.

Jared Kirkwood: 17:58 We might do a prayer walk. We might get out into our city and truly pray for the government or for our our school district or whatever that may be. We're going to not just talk about those areas of sin or struggle in our life. We're going to pause for a moment, have a moment of honesty, and then I'm going to ask my group to pray for me to experience spiritual freedom in whatever that area is in my life. So with everything that we talk about, these rhythms are not just things that we're trying to seek to understand. We're truly developing a practice that's going to be something we do together in community. So serving is another good example of that. We don't just study serving or study the poor and the marginalized. We're going to invite groups on a reoccurring basis to go out into the city and they're going to go serve together.

Jared Kirkwood: 18:44 Okay. So that one right alone is actually a great example of a group that is fighting as they're drifting towards. And it's a natural drift. This is actually something that Eric Geiger talks about. Churches naturally drift towards complexity. Small groups naturally drift towards inward focus. So we need to introduce outward focused invitation for them so that they might be able to go into the community and see that the world really is bigger than just them. And that Jesus cares for people beyond just who's right in front of them. So again, we want to invite, we want to try to help them step outside of what they're normally comfortable with. And that breaks down some of that support group type things that start to take place in a group.

Tyler Samson: 19:27 I think that the struggle in churches, period, is to get out of that inward mindset. So imagine how much harder that is to facilitate online. Whereas I mean, you watch church online a vast majority of time as a consumer. The typical person that I talk to that joins us online does not get on there to be like, man, I hope this church fills me up so I can go talk to my neighbor about Jesus later. That's not how that works. So what we have tried to do by using the Rooted material. We thought that that would be a really good way to start moving towards the outward focus rather than just the inward focus. So we're actually doing Rooted online with a group of 10 people right now, kind of like the Guinea pig for it. But it's been amazing to see how that has shifted that small group mindset of inward focus to outward focus.

Jared Kirkwood: 20:27 I would love to hear how you are approaching those group experiences, like prayer, like serve, how are you doing that with your online community? Because this is so intriguing to me.

Tyler Samson: 20:36 Sure. Yeah. So, I'll hit the prayer one first. We met on a zoom call for the first hour and we prayed together. We went through some guided prayer from the group leader. I'm actually not leading this one, which is a really cool to be able to just kind of sit and observe and participate. So the group leader led us through some guided prayer. We prayed on the zoom call and then we just left the zoom call open. We told everyone to either set an alarm on their phone but keep their phone out of reach. So like they know when to come back or like go take a walk and pray while you're walking, whatever you feel comfortable with, but we broke off for another hour, came back and broke our fast together at the very end.

Tyler Samson: 21:25 So we finished off by praying. Obviously we weren't in the same room eating together, but we were watching each other on zoom eat, which is a super weird thing to do. But yeah, so it was basically the exact same as how you could do it in person just without being able to touch someone. As far as, the survey experience, we gave them three options you could serve someone in your neighborhood, you can serve with your community. So for example, like a soup kitchen or something like that. Or you could serve a specific person. So that could be a family member, it could be a friend and we gave them those three options and came back the next week and just talked about what we did to serve. So we couldn't do that as a group because of the physical distance between us. But we were all on the same page of what type of service that we were doing.

Jared Kirkwood: 22:15 And so that's incredible, Tyler. Did you then, you've been in groups both physical and then now this online one. I would love to hear some of the contrast of what you felt like really worked, what didn't work, between being someone together, serving together and praying together versus when you were able to do this through zoom.

Tyler Samson: 22:33 Obviously it is more personal if you are seeing them face to face and being able to touch them and be in their physical presence. But with that being said, technology has continued to advance to a point where I don't know in the, most of these people in the group, I don't have personal relationships with outside of online. Yet, I still know them as friends and as people that I'm close to. And so while it's not exactly the same, it is really good for specific types of people that do not interact well in person.

Jeff Reed: 23:11 So Tyler, you just wrapped up this group, right?

Tyler Samson: 23:15 We have one more week.

Jeff Reed: 23:17 I knew it was right around here. So when this airs, you've wrapped it up, what's the next step for the group in your application at First Capital, you got six people, eight people, all over the country, like where are they going?

Tyler Samson: 23:30 We're going to be a small group and we're going to do that through a Facebook group. We'll do it through obviously text messaging, calling and things like that but we are also on Marco Polo, which I don't know if you guys know what that is. Yeah. But because of the time differences and things like that within the group, it makes it a lot easier to not have to be live when we meet. And so moving forward, I think that's the route we will go. I don't know if you remember Jeff, we had someone that I told you was going to be from London in the group and the time difference just killed him. And so something like Marco Polo could really help that out with moving forward.

Jeff Reed: 24:07 Here's my question because once again, Geiger, groups point towards inward, systems point towards complexity. I probably would have that as a tattoo if I was getting tattoos back in the day cause he just would say that so much. I love him for that. At what Saddleback, online to offline, and Tyler, you know this, like they push people out of their online groups like six to nine months. Hey, I'm glad you could be in this group. It's time to birth something different and there is an aggressive strategy. Not saying it's right and not saying it's wrong, but there is an aggressive strategy towards them towards, "okay, hey, we're going to go birth to something over here." So it's really, let me help you with these finishing touches, but we're training you to go do that. At First Capital, have you wrestled with something like that? What does that look like over there with you guys?

Tyler Samson: 24:57 Yeah, they have a little thing called Church Anywhere that they can start. That's pretty much kind of what we're training them not to do is to one, find their purpose. Jared, you don't know a whole lot about Church Anywhere, but it's very passion and purpose based. We try to empower someone that like when they have this purpose, when they have this passion, for example, the person with the Huntington's Disease Rehab Center, she worked there. So she had a passion for these people. So we said, hey, let's help you go and do this. And so through Rooted people are finding their purpose, finding their passion. We're using the serve experiences to give them exposure to Church Anywhere. So many of our Rooted groups, in person or online, are serving within Church Anywhere groups outside of our physical location. So their serve experience could be like, I'm going to go create a meal for our homeless shelter Church Anywhere. So we're giving them that exposure and we've already seen, probably 30-40 people that have either jumped in a Church Anywhere location as a volunteer or began to lead one.

Jared Kirkwood: 26:05 From the stories podcast last week, or I listened to it earlier today from your previous posting. And Tyler, it's remarkable what you guys have gone over there. I'm excited to meet with my team after this and share some stories of what you guys are doing out there. Cause it really is incredible and this to really speak to something here, you know, we're working with lots and lots of churches and a lot of them are asking this online digital strategy kind of thing. And we've yet to really hear a story of a church utilizing Rooted in this way that's been this impactful and effective. And so Tyler, I'm going to be calling you up soon to get some more wisdom from you because this is amazing. This will be a huge blessing to so many churches, so well done.

Jeff Reed: 26:46 Awesome. So we're going to expect to see lots of little Rooted communities popping up all over the place and out of the 16 micro locations you are currently running , going to get some Rooted going on in some of the prisons. And you know, Brad mentioned that's he does a Bible study. Is he doing Rooted with them?

Tyler Samson: 27:04 He's not, but we've been in talks figuring out how we can get that within, like obviously the kids one, it wouldn't work, things like that, but on, for specific locations, where the people will be there, I absolutely think we can get it in there.

Jared Kirkwood: 27:18 We do have some churches that have used Rooted in a prison environment. We created a specific format for them cause you can't have any kind of hard binding or why or anything like that. So we created a glue bound for them so that they could do that. And it's been really pretty amazing. We even had some global stories of some global partners who have used it in prison systems down in the Dominican Republic. And I've seen some really remarkable life change stories of like 300 men in a prison of 500 go through Rooted. 300 baptisms. It's just remarkable stuff that we've been able to see God, and it's not because there's any magic sauce in the curriculum, right? It really is God's hand. This is such a beautiful picture of God's favor utilizing this thing.

Tyler Samson: 28:05 Both of these things we're talking about Church Anywhere and Rooted are very simple. It's already stuff that we're called to do as Christians, it's just putting it into practice. It's a strategy to actually put that into practice.

Jared Kirkwood: 28:19 That's it.

Jeff Reed: 28:20 It's interesting to me and Jared, you said this came from Kenya. I have experienced with the Timothy Initiative, which was a David Nelms out of India, I think somewhere out in that area. And maybe it's a two minute conversation, but why is it that the international curriculum has this effect and usefulness here in America? Is there something about the culture here? Like what are the things that we're sensing and struggling with here where maybe it's not as comfortable?

Jared Kirkwood: 29:00 Well, that's a pretty huge question that I don't want to pretend I'm any kind of expert in responding to, but I can say that I think one of the saddest things in the history of the church as of late has been "the west to the rest" kind of mentality as if America knows everything and we can inform the rest of the world on how to follow Jesus. Right? I think that kind of arrogance has done the damage, you know, it's done a lot of damage in America. And so there's been a really beautiful shift and an openness and a recognition that maybe we don't have everything figured out and there are brilliant people globally. I mean there some amazing things happening all around the world that now we're finally willing to listen and to open our hands and say, okay, maybe we don't know everything.

Jared Kirkwood: 29:50 And so that doesn't mean that you have to do it exactly the way that they did it, but it is more of a posture of learning and listening that I think the church in America is now way more open to than it ever has been, well in my lifetime at least. And so I am so grateful now that we live in a generation that's looking to our global partners to say the church globally is more important than just simply the church in America getting bad. And so it becomes a mutually beneficial relationship when we choose to listen and to learn rather than to try to inform and to teach in every environment we're in.

Rey DeArmas: 30:24 That's good. Jared, as obviously folks are looking to, you know, expand. I mean, how does Rooted help them kind of come to an understanding of, hey listen, so there's a big difference between creating disciples and creating leaders at your church because some folks try to lump them all into one thing. Are we creating new small group leaders, or are we creating, you know, people who are closer to Jesus? Like how is all this working out and how is Rooted helping people kind of clarify those conversations.

Jared Kirkwood: 30:53 Sure. So this is a little bit of a shifting gears, right in kind of the conversation. But we would say that you cannot have a conversation about discipleship or helping people become more like Jesus and separate out leadership development. If we're becoming more like Jesus, that means we're influencing others, which means we're becoming a leader, right? So there's just a, it's all encompassing in one way. And so what I love a lot about Rooted is that you see people get their first glimpse of what it means to serve and to be involved in some things.

Jared Kirkwood: 31:27 And so they start to tap into that passion. A lot of what Tyler's saying about people recognizing that they do have experience or passion or love for nursing facilities or in, you know, whatever it is, the prison system, that's a really beautiful thing where people start to tap into how God is hardwired them and then utilizing their experiences and then getting a chance to serve the Kingdom of God in that way. Well, that's leadership development, right? So within Rooted, we're giving people a chance to try some things on and to develop some leadership skills. But another thing that we're starting to do is, we asked people to consider if you want to really be involved in any ministry of Mariners, we want you to be as best a leader as possible. And I know in our church the very best leaders are the people who facilitate Rooted because it gives you within 10 weeks a really good chance to lead a discussion, deal with crisis, learn to defer, deal with conflict.

Jared Kirkwood: 32:20 You've got to lead experiences. There are so many things that you're going to do in a 10-week window that will equip you to be a great leader anywhere in our church. And I can say that actually as the former high school pastor of our church, the very best volunteers I had in high school ministry were people that I lead through Rooted that I then intentionally asked them to be involved in student ministry. They were well equipped to be a part of our student ministries program. So, and I would imagine that if you asked Tyler that same question, you're going to see those who have facilitated Rooted are uniquely equipped to lead anywhere within the church.

Rey DeArmas: 32:57 Awesome.

Jeff Reed: 32:58 What challenges or what advice would you kind of give to somebody who's starting out in groups and trying to do this from a discipleship perspective?

Tyler Samson: 33:05 Yeah, communication throughout the week is very key and that's key in person for any small group too. But it's a lot easier to forget that you have an online small group on like a Monday night so constant communication to keep it in the forefront of people's minds is huge. We haven't really faced very many issues. It's been a really, really good and surprisingly good experience for us so far. One of the absolute craziest stories that I've ever had in ministry came out of this Rooted thing. So I think that my view is very skewed because of how insane this was that came out of it.

Jeff Reed: 33:45 We'll you're going to have to share that story now so you can't set it up and not share.

Tyler Samson: 33:49 We alluded to it on the podcast with Randy and I, but, one of the people, so the Rooted online group that we did, you were only allowed to join it if you were from the online campus only. So like you couldn't just be in our location and join it online. One of the ladies, I mean my care team has talked to her multiple times, like we know who she is, but I've never met her physically before. But she joined the Rooted group online and we quickly found out that she was struggling with some anxiety and depression and she became very comfortable with us, like we became a family to her even though it was online. She reached out a couple of weeks ago and said she can't take it any longer and she was gonna take two bottles of pills.

Tyler Samson: 34:45 She reached out to the group and said that. So immediately we kind of spring into action because of Church Anywhere, I have a good relationship with several of the sheriffs in our area because we're in their prisons. So I was able to call his personal cell phone. He traced her phone number to get her location. We talked to her on the entire time that the paramedics were coming and now she's okay. I don't say this to sound arrogant, but she literally texted us the next day and said, thank you for saving my life. So that would have never ever happened had she not decided to join this Rooted group. I mean, I would've known her from like seeing her on the online campus, but that was it and we specifically are able to pray for her. We have people from out of state that are wanting to come and visit her, driving five or six hours because they're in this group with her. So it was just an absolutely humbling experience to be a part of that.

Rey DeArmas: 35:46 That's awesome.

Jared Kirkwood: 35:47 Wow.

Jeff Reed: 35:49 You know, so often we hear when we're talking about church online, it's not real community. It's not real. There's no relationship aspect to it because you're not breathing the same air. Stories like that and I wanted you to tell that again like that redefines what church online is.

Tyler Samson: 36:09 That would have been a very real suicide and now she has an extremely real testimony to share because of that.

Jeff Reed: 36:15 Wow.

Jared Kirkwood: 36:15 Well said. Wow.

Jeff Reed: 36:21 Very cool. Rey, and I know you're doing, Christ Fellowship Miami's got a lot of groups going down there, your online pastor there. Man, what feedback, what experience in context of groups and doing things like. What do the groups look like there at Christ fellowship?

Rey DeArmas: 36:40 So some of our more successful groups have actually done something like Rooted in that. They did Foundations. I mean, Jeff, you know, you're aware of this, you helped establish this, you know, before you went onto some different things.

Jeff Reed: 36:51 Yeah. That's Timothy Initiative, by the way. I mentioned that earlier. We, with David Nelms permission kind of rewrote that. Go ahead, Rey.

Rey DeArmas: 36:59 We tweaked it and we adapted it, which actually gave people a good intro in spiritual disciplines, but it also gave people a great introduction into small group ministry, which was huge. And so, you know, for us, that was very helpful early on and helping establish a pattern for many of these groups. And so hearing this, you know, it's great to hear how Rooted is being used over at First Capital, but also over at Mariners in the fact that this kind of structure, it's proven true that people need an introduction to not just spiritual disciplines, but really rhythms of the faith and just a better understanding of what it means to be a Christian and how that affects their personal lives on the day to day and giving them the simple tools of how to break that down.

Jeff Reed: 37:39 Man, this is, this has been great. I'm just looking at the table of contents here. Who is God? How does God speak to us? Where is God in the midst of suffering? There is an enemy. How can I make the most of my life? Part one and part two. How does God view money? Why and how should I tell others? Why is the church important? That's your 9 of 10 week, you know, stuff there. Taking people through that, and then with the adage of now that you know this, go and take someone else through that, that duplication process, training somebody. Training for trainers, you know, just that approach of helping somebody understand it and then empowering them and challenging them and holding them accountable to go as well. That's an exciting thing. And so, man, Jared, thanks for doing this. Sounds like this material has had a lifelong impact or at least a long impact with you guys even outside of when you were at Mariners, right?

Jared Kirkwood: 38:44 Yeah, absolutely. This thing, it really is by God's grace transforming not only our church, but a lot of the churches that we're working with. There's something to be said about the American approach to lowering the bar, and trying to make things as easy as possible to be involved. And Rooted is quite frankly the opposite, right? It is raising the bar and it is asking people to do things that are in some cases well outside of their comfort zone. It's demanding of their time and their resources. It asks a lot of people, but we've found a direct correlated relationship to the lower the bar, the lower we brought the bar of discipleship, the lower the impact we saw. And so we just started raising the bar higher and higher and higher and people continue to exceed our expectations no matter how high we place it.

Jared Kirkwood: 39:33 And that beyond just the table of contents, it really is a remarkable thing to see people rise to the occasion and take a risk experience like going out and serving or praying or sharing their story or leaning into honesty and confession through that strongholds week. When we get outside of our comfort zone, that is really where God wants to write the best stories in our life. We cannot go on an adventure if we're going to stay in our own comfort zone. And so those kinds of things, everybody wants to live a great story, but no one really knows how to go do that, right? That's why we love the entertainment industry right now, is somebody else is living a great story and we get to pretend like we're part of it, but really following Jesus, there is no greater story than that. And so when we take people and say, Hey, let's go actually do the things that Jesus did, it blows their mind that they look back and they go, I actually am living a pretty courageous story right now, so I'm really excited about, I'm excited about any church that's leaning into this kind of discipleship conversation that's about spiritual growth and it's about people becoming more like Jesus.

Jared Kirkwood: 40:34 I really could care less if people use Rooted or not because if whatever they're doing, if it's making disciples that are living this way, praise God. I'm so excited about that. I just know that I've had a front row seat to Rooted and it's been a pretty impactful part of my story and we get to see some pretty amazing things both in America and around the world. So I'm really grateful for you guys giving me some time to talk about this. So Tyler, I'll be talking to you soon my friend.

Jeff Reed: 40:57 Well, hey, we're gonna wrap here. Tyler, any 20 seconds closing thoughts before we land the plane?

Tyler Samson: 41:03 I got nothing, man.

Jeff Reed: 41:06 Got absolutely nothing. Three weeks of talking about Church Anywhere on this podcast and the guy's out of gas. All right, Rey, you got anything?

Rey DeArmas: 41:14 It's just a wonderful thing to hear how it's happening. Discipleship is taking place online and people are growing in their faith and they're being sent out to make an impact in their communities. And so for those of you, churches, that are still on the fence, this is possible. This is something that can happen. You've heard it here, you've seen it over the past couple of weeks. If not, go back into the archives and check out some of the other stuff that's going on with Church Anywhere. It can happen for you too.

Jeff Reed: 41:38 Jared, you got any closing thoughts before we go?

Jared Kirkwood: 41:41 Two quick things. If you are interested in Rooted, is the website to find all information for the pastor that's looking to implement Rooted. And then Tyler, you might be interested to know that we have just released an app. So there's a digital version of the rooted workbook.

Tyler Samson: 41:55 Yes!

Jared Kirkwood: 41:55 Email me, I'll get you a code.

Jeff Reed: 41:58 Well done.

Jared Kirkwood: 42:02 Yeah, we're really excited about it. It's still in version one. There's lots of great things that we want to do. You know, I'm pressing our app developer guys to help us on the connectivity piece to it so that a group could go through it and they could have a feed or a wall or some kind of a social connectivity piece to it. So we're moving that way right now it's a platform to go through the workbook and there's some great features involved, but we're working on that connectivity thing that I think will help the church online even better. So good things to come.

Jeff Reed: 42:32 That's good to know. That app is going to make, especially in the digital realm, it's just going to make it a lot less clunky. I mean it's, I'm making fun of the book. I'm not making fun of the book. It's a big book.

Jared Kirkwood: 42:45 Trrust me, I get it.

Jeff Reed: 42:45 It's good stuff. As a former bookstore owner, like I don't get anybody giving me books anymore. I just don't cause like, you know, Amazon and iPad. And so when Tyler's like, Hey, let me mail you this book, I'm like, wow, somebody's still out there using paper. That's, that's awesome. Hey, we're going to wrap here. This has been the end of a three week conversation about Church Anywhere, which I really believe is the future model of what church is going to look like.

Jeff Reed: 43:17 I think churches will continue to operate the way they are. The mega churches are going to get bigger, but I think the smaller churches are going to get smaller and you're going to see more and more of these volunteers pop up and start to lead at the micro level. And so, I hope you've enjoyed this three-week deep dive and as we've talked about the serving, the volunteering, about the leadership and about the discipleship of what's involved here. And so Tyler, man, thanks for your patience going through all of this for three weeks. Jared, man, thanks for jumping on this and I'm excited to see that app. I'm excited to see where Rooted goes and I know that already in the amount of time since I've been exposed to it, I've already been recommending it and passing it on to other pastors and churches that I'm working with and helping to go through these steps. So man, I pray that the ministry there with Rooted and with Mariners and in general continues to go, well. Rey, man, I feel like I see you all the time, so we'll just continue to see each other. That's awesome. No big deal. Hey, but this has been The Church Digital Podcast. Thanks for being here and hope to see you next time.



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About Author

Jeff Reed
Jeff Reed

With about 20 years experience serving the church in the digital/technological realm, Jeff loves working with churches. As passionate about Discipleship as he is Technology, Jeff uses his passion to help Churches develop technology systems to bring people far from God closer to him. Oh, and he loves Digital Church & Church Online.

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