Fostering Community in a Fast-Growing Multi-Campus Ministry: Scott Freeman on Effective Pastoral Care

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. This week we’re talking with Scott Freeman, the Pastor of Community at Grace Church in South Carolina.

As a church expands, there is a constant tension to manage between growth and deep community. Grace Church has experienced significant growth over the years with ten campuses and over 250 community groups. Today Scott shares about their discipleship-driven model of groups, and how they train leaders while creating environments conducive to life change.

  • Discipleship-driven. // When asked about what Biblical community looks like at Grace Church, Scott explains the community groups at the church are for covenant members only and are based primarily on location with a heterogeneous mix of people of different ages and life stages. Being discipleship-driven means they don’t only study the Bible, but also incorporate activities such as prayer, service, fellowship, and exploring how to live out the core values of the church.
  • Groups are campus specific. // There is a benefit to worshiping on Sundays alongside people that you’re in a group with during the week. The staff is intentional about putting groups together based on factors like area of town and shared experiences and gives a lot of thought to which people would work well together and learn from each other.
  • Check in every three years. // Grace has discovered that having community groups meet for about a three year life cycle is a good timeframe for groups to develop vulnerability and allow individuals to get to know each other. When the group winds down after three years, it also allows new leaders to emerge and step up to lead groups of their own. Making changes every few years in the groups brings in new ways of thinking and keeps people from becoming too comfortable.
  • Ministries in addition to groups. // As the church has grown, Grace has added other forms of Biblical community besides groups which offer special levels of care and work to complement the community groups. Some of these programs include Re|engage to support marriages, Re|generation recovery ministry, divorce care, and grief share to help individuals with specific needs. Rather than competing with community groups, these ministries have enhanced the personal growth and vulnerability of members and the community groups have benefitted from it.
  • Group life pastors. // Each of Grace’s ten campuses has one or more group life pastors who are responsible for a certain number of groups at their respective campus. The group life pastors work with the group leaders to equip them, offer support, and share best practices.
  • Keep groups engaging. // Curriculum for the groups includes sermon questions, reflection on past teachings, and a look ahead to the upcoming teaching. The church also encourage groups to serve together and provides access to additional curriculum through a church subscription to RightNow Media. The church works to keep the format fresh and different to encourage engagement, allowing group leaders to try different approaches so the groups don’t become predictable week after week.
  • Train group leaders. // Grace’s community group leaders are trained through an onboarding class called Equip. It asks in-depth questions about their lives to assess the leaders’ willingness to be vulnerable and share their own struggles. The church believes that if leaders pretend to have it all together, it hinders transparency within the group. In addition, Scott hosts a monthly podcast for leaders, covering various topics related to leading groups.

You can find out more about Grace Church at Plus, explore various training links and documents below:

  • Equip Hub // Contains resources Grace Church uses to train leaders and disciple people in their church.
  • Shepherding Values Hub // Contains relevant resources to equip community group leaders in shepherding effectively in their role.
  • Shepherding Values Overview // A review of the five guiding principles for discipleship at Grace for group leaders.

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Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Hey, friends welcome to the unSeminary podcast. So glad that you have decided to tune in. Man, it’s going to be a great conversation today. Really excited for this discussion – we’ve been looking forward to it for a while. We’ve got Scott Freeman with us. He’s a part of the leadership of a church called Grace Church in South Carolina. This is a ten campus church. There’s fantastic, they’re doing all kinds of amazing things that we’re going to get into dive into today. They exist to make mature followers of Jesus Christ there. It’s really a family of congregations in the upstate region if I’m reading my geography right. So, Scott, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here.

Scott Freeman — Great. Thank you, Rich! Good to be here.

Rich Birch — Yeah, why don’t you fill in the picture? Kind of tell us a little bit of the Grace Church story, kind of help me understand more about the church.

Scott Freeman — Sure. Yeah. The the church was planted in 1995 so we are coming up on 30 years. I actually moved to the Greenville area in 2000, and became a member. I actually am not seminary trained. I was teacher and a coach previously. And so I attended the church as a member from 2000 until 2008, and then came on staff in 2008. So I’ve been on staff now in a variety of roles. All kind of in the world of biblical community for 15 years.

Rich Birch — Love it. There’s been a lot of change, you know, over that time frame particularly in this area.

Scott Freeman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — Why don’t you kind of give us a sense of that?

Scott Freeman — Sure.

Rich Birch — What’s what’s changed and evolved since, you know, that when you started even. It’s kind of interesting.

Scott Freeman — Yeah, when I when I first started attending Grace in 2000 there were probably 200, 300 attendees on Sunday mornings.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Scott Freeman — I think there may have been 10 community groups total. Um by 2008 when I was asked to come on staff, we had grown—it was still just one campus but—we had about 60 community groups…

Rich Birch — Wow.

Scott Freeman — …and one pastor was overseeing all of those.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Scott Freeman — And obviously he was feeling spread very thin.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Scott Freeman — And the decision by our elders was to add three group pastors to kind of work underneath him and take 20 groups each so that we could equip those leaders to then disciple their group members. And so so in 2008 we’re at 60 groups and one campus and now fifteen years later we are at 10 campuses across the upstate and we have over 250 community groups.

Rich Birch — Wow.

Scott Freeman — So we’ve definitely grown significantly since since 2008.

Rich Birch — Yeah, absolutely. This I’m really looking forward to this conversation because um Grace is one of these churches that is an outlier in a lot of cases. You know, we’re still seeing two thirds of multisite churches aren’t getting beyond three locations. Ah, and it’s it’s less than 1% get beyond ah six. So you know you you are in the rare, you know, rare air on that front. And then the same on the community groups thing, like is you know wide penetration. That’s I’m really looking forward to learning from that. But why don’t we start with kind of…

Scott Freeman — I sent you…

Rich Birch — Yeah sorry, go ahead.

Scott Freeman — It is interesting you say that with the with the three to four. Um I would say that was probably the hardest jump, was and and I was part of that on the biblical community side. I was not ah necessarily in in a lot of the decision making on that, but that was probably the the fork in the road where it was the most difficult. Going from 7 to 8, 8 to 9, 9 to 10 has not been nearly as difficult as that um, when really a central staff became necessary and the 3 to 4 was probably ah, a difficult jump.

Rich Birch — Yeah, absolutely. You ah at that phase you go from being a church with campuses to a church of campuses.

Scott Freeman — Mmm-hmm.

Rich Birch — Like you have to really you you can kind of fake it for a while there and like just everybody work harder. Ah, but that doesn’t scale. You know to 4, 5, 6, 7 locations for sure. So why don’t we start with um maybe we’ll start at the granular level. So when you ah when you define um, like a ah biblical community, what does that look like, what what are kind of the group’s experience look like? Help us understand that.

Scott Freeman — Sure. Um, most of our groups are made up of—and I will say our groups are covenant members only—um and a lot of the kind of the way we structure groups works for us. I would, you know, not say it’s right for everyone. I don’t think it’s a right/wrong thing but we choose to make our groups primarily discipleship-driven. Not necessarily outreach and trying to allow, you know, new folks to come in through groups. So with that being in mind it is for covenant members only. Ah, typically it is a heterogeneous mixture. We do have some kind of life stage specificific situations in different groups. But for the most part it’s a mix of marrieds and singles. It’s a mix of different stages of life.

Scott Freeman — Groups meet typically for about a 3-year life cycle. And um, they do a mix ah curriculum wise of questions that we provide from the from the teaching, weekly teaching. And um, we ah we asked that groups not just be a bible study where the group leader ah re-teaches the weekly teaching, but that they pray together. They serve together. There is fellowship. There’s bible study. Um, they talk about how to be generous with their time and their resources together. It’s all of our core values hopefully focused on as equally as possible during that group meeting.

Rich Birch — Yeah, I love it. I’d I’d love to dig into a couple of those things. You know, the the whole um, you know, heterogeneous/homogenous group question. Why has Grace fallen down on the like, Okay we’re going to… so so are the groups then more kind of based on the region that you’re in? It’s kind of more, you know, like hey we’re in this part of town kind of thing? Is that is that what they look like?

Scott Freeman — Right. Yeah, yeah, um, you know, we do group our groups are based on the campus you attend. So rarely would there be someone from our downtown campus in a community group with someone from our Pelham campus. It is campus specific because we do feel like there is benefit to worshiping alongside folks, you know, on the weekends that you’re in group with. And then there are some just logistical challenges, night of the week, that people are able to meet, um area of town. We are very intentional though about placing groups together. Um, you know, we pray through that process. We do we are strategic and think this couple would be great with this couple. Ah, but there are a lot of times where we make placements and we have folks come and say, man, that was so awesome that y’all knew I needed someone who had also lost their mom because I’d lost mine. And we had and we had no idea. You know and it was just…

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s God’s grace, right?

Scott Freeman — Absolutely, absolutely.

Rich Birch — That’s yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, that’s cool.

Scott Freeman — So um, so we are intentional about that. And there are some again logistical things. But for the most part it is area of town because we do want people in community with folks they’re going to run into during the week… and

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Scott Freeman — …and be on PTA with, and and see in the grocery store…

Rich Birch — Love it.

Scott Freeman — …and those type things.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. Um, now the 3-year life cycle that stood out to me. What do you mean by that? Kind of pull that apart.

Scott Freeman — Sure.

Rich Birch — When you’re when you’re talking about that with people, what do you say?

Scott Freeman — Yeah, um, now I will say that is not written in stone. It’s not, you know, an absolute.

Rich Birch — Okay, sure.

Scott Freeman — Um, we have kind of found that groups need long enough to obviously get vulnerable and transparent with each other, ah, get to know each other. If you um, you know, break up a group sooner than three years, it may not have time for that to happen. We’ve also learned that at typically around the three year mark um, things start to get a little comfortable, maybe a little bit stale. And often there are folks in that group that need to be leading their own group. And unless you kind of kick them out of the nest, it’s it’s not going to happen.

Scott Freeman — And so we’ve kind of, you know, found that 3 year sweet spot of starting to have conversation with the leaders um to say, hey you know, you’re nearing the end of year 3; you probably have some folks in your group that could lead their own now. We’re not going to scatter that group in 8 different directions. Typically it would split in half, maybe split into thirds. But um, the the 3 year change up does kind of, you know, give people a restart.

Scott Freeman — Um, I know we had a group that had been together for 4 years and when I first came on staff. Ah my boss was like you know I really feel like you’ve got some people in your group that need to lead. It’s probably time to to break it up. And and I understood the rationale behind it. My my wife was not happy when I got home and told her that these folks that we’ve been doing life with for for 4 years, we need to kind of go in different directions. But I did realize when we ended that group and started a new one just how predictable. I knew who was going to make the joke. I knew who was going to answer. I knew who was going to say what. And it challenged me as a leader and it gave us the new ways of thinking. And some folks went out from that group and um and led their own when they when they really needed to. And so they would have just stayed comfortable had we not have we not ended it.

Scott Freeman — Um and and we’re still friends with those folks we we haven’t lost community with them.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Scott Freeman — Um, so you know so again, 3 years is kind of when we start to have that conversation. There have been groups so we’ve ended after 2, just because it wasn’t going well.

Rich Birch — Sure.

Scott Freeman — There have been some that really started to get traction at that 3 year mark and we let it go 4, and maybe even 5 or 6. So it’s it’s not a hard and fast rule. But that’s kind of our our standard.

Rich Birch — Yeah rule of thumb. It’s kind of like that. That’s interesting. That’s interesting.

Scott Freeman — Right.

Rich Birch — That the other thing I heard you say… did I did I hear you say that groups are 14 to 18? You start up… that seems a little large, that’s larger than what I hear in kind of, you know, when you read a book on how to run a groups ministry…

Scott Freeman — Right.

Rich Birch — …you know, they they won’t say that.

Scott Freeman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — So is what did I hear that right?

Scott Freeman — Well if I said, if if I could create the ideal group, I would say it’s probably 12.

Rich Birch — Oh yeah, okay, great.

Scott Freeman — Um and but A, we run short on leaders…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Scott Freeman — …and so spaces are at a premium and we have to you know expand. There’s also just the we our community especially you know the city of Greenville, lot of industry, a lot of people coming and going. There’s a lot of folks that ah, you know, um are coming in and out. And so there is some attrition in groups. And so we know that if we launch them at 16 to 18 they probably settle in at 12 to 14. So we do probably we launch them a little bigger than we want them to end up, just knowing that in a lot of cases that will happen.

Rich Birch — Smart. Yeah, that’s smart. That’s that’s ah that’s a great idea. That’s that’s compelling for sure. I totally get that. Um, now talk about, so the church as a whole has experienced tremendous growth over these years. And ah there can often be this tension of it’s the like get big, go deep. You know how can you really? I know, you know, this but like, you know, can can people develop actual community in a fast-growing church? Talk me through how the group structure has tried to support that. You know, the growth that’s been happening kind of in the church as a whole.

Scott Freeman — Yeah, I I will say and I’m speaking on behalf of our governing elders here…

Rich Birch — Sure.

Scott Freeman — …who make the decisions on when to launch campuses and that kind of thing.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Scott Freeman — I think one mindset on adding campuses that has been very helpful is that we don’t ah see an area and think, man, we’d really love to have a church in Spartanburg. Or we’d really love to have a church in Anderson. We have a group of people who are driving 30 minutes to one of our campuses from one of those spots, and it is a no-brainer to say, well let’s find a location and provide a campus in this community where people are already coming…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Scott Freeman — …you know, to to our church. And so it’s really um, giving them the opportunity to worship locally and invite their friends versus them having to commute to church on the weekend. And so I think that has helped. Um and then, you know, when you do have 10 campuses, you have 10 growth centers of people going out and sharing in their community about life change that’s happening. And um, it’s really, that’s where you kind of see the exponential growth instead of um, you know one site you’ve got 10 smaller sites that are growing at the same time.

Scott Freeman — And so that has that has really helped. But there has to be depth there and there has to be real life change or it’s not going to be sustainable. And I think people see that um, you know, we’re intentional about teaching the bible. We’re intentional about discipling people and helping them no matter where they are in their christian faith when they first come to Grace, helping them grow in that and grow deeper. And I think people respect that and want to be a part of that.

Rich Birch — Love it. Um, do you guys do any other, you know, things that might look like one of these groups but aren’t really one of these groups, like classes, or you know other types of biblical community?

Scott Freeman — We do. And that change, it really was a mindset shift for us probably 6 or 7 years ago. Community group was the answer for everything in in our minds.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Scott Freeman — You know, if you’ve you’ve got marriage issues, well, you know, get in a community group. You having financial struggles? Well, get in a community group so people can know you and help you work through that. Parenting issues? Community group. And we started to realize that there were and are specific issues that people need real intense focused help in a certain area. And so I guess the first idea or thing we launched was Re-engage which we got from Watermark in Dallas. And we launched that as a marriage ministry. In some cases people did that alongside community group, but in a lot lot of cases it was kind of a off-ramp from community group to really focus on their marriage for a season, get healthy, and then come back into a community group.

Rich Birch — Right.

Scott Freeman — Um, and that went really well. We have since added Re-generation Recovery Ministry. We have divorce care. We have grief share. We have a number of different care and recovery forms of biblical community. And we’ve really had to communicate while community group is the most common and probably the um the form of community that a big big percentage of our members are in, it is not the normal, or the the right form and all these others are are lesser. Um, you know in fact, ah in a lot of cases. People are getting very vulnerable and growing tremendously in Re-gen and then they’re bringing that to their community group after the fact, and our groups are getting better as a result of these other ministries. So we’ve we’ve had to view it as not a competing thing, but as the complementary form of Biblical community.

Rich Birch — Yeah I love that. And you know, I think that is addresses a practical concern, particularly at school, you know you know, as are as as [inaudible] not as school, as they scale you know as they grow you end up, you know by just by the sheer number of people, it’s like man we’ve got a giant number of people who are going through a marriage issue, are going through you know, recovery. And and so um, you know, if we were a smaller church we could maybe have ah a person in one of those scenarios in a group and kind of um, you know, just deal with it. But at scale you’re like, man, we got to figure out how to how to do that. That makes total sense. I love that. That’s that’s good. Can you…

Scott Freeman — Yeah, and and when when a couple is struggling, say in their marriage or someone is dealing with an addiction or you know any any felt need like that, and it’s week after week after week, not only does it they don’t feel like they’re getting what they need from the group, or the group feels like they’re monopolizing the time, and it really kind of shuts down. You know my wife and I might be on the way to group and have a minor conflict and think, you know, that’s something we should probably bring up to the group, but I mean it it would seem silly compared to what that other couple is going through. So we’re just going to stuff it and stay quiet. And so it can really kind of derail um, what the group wants and needs to accomplish to disciple everyone. So um I think those are the cases where some of these alternate forms of Biblical community become really effective and appropriate.

Rich Birch — Yeah, could you talk me through what what the staff structure looks like. So I think you said you had 250 plus community groups.

Scott Freeman — Right.

Rich Birch — How are you supporting those from ah ah, you know, what’s the staff structure look that provides care and, you know, direction for those groups?

Scott Freeman — Right. Um, every every member every covenant member at our church has a responsible pastor.

Rich Birch — Okay, wow.

Scott Freeman — And so um, they and they know they know who that is. And so um, at our smaller campuses there um is a campus pastor and a groups pastor. And so those um you know our smaller campuses may have 12 or 15 of those community groups. And so that one groups pastor spends a majority of his time working with those um leaders over those community groups. And then ah really his his main job is to equip those leaders to then do ministry within their group. He will get in involved and meet directly with members of those groups at times, but really to replicate himself and to um equip those leaders is is the primary focus.

Scott Freeman — And then so on some of our larger campuses, our Pelham campus is is our largest, we have four group life pastors um, who again still have 20 groups or so that they’re responsible for and they cover those eighty groups at that campus in that same way. So every group leader has a pastor that they have his cell phone number. They can call him any time a day. We have group life women’s ministers who are able to care for the female leaders. All of our groups right now are, because they are heterogeneous, they’re led by couples. Um, and so you know the men are meeting with with the men, the women are meeting with women, and that our staff is there to support those leaders as well.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s ah, that’s cool. Love love that. Um, when you thinking about you know the curriculum. How so you said it’s a mixture of sermon based and then and then are groups do like then picking other curriculum, you have like a set of other things that they can do? Is that what that looks like? Maybe unpack that a little bit.

Scott Freeman — Yeah, um, we encourage groups to, again, find times to serve together. So there are weeks where they’re completely outside the home and they’re going and and serving somewhere in the community. We do provide sermon questions every week. And and we do that uniquely. We have a couple of reflection questions on the teaching that they’ve just heard and then we have the passage that is going to be taught the upcoming week with a few look ahead questions to that. And so it really kind of creates some anticipation of what’s to come.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s cool.

Scott Freeman — And it really kind of minimizes the group leader’s desire or a tendency to maybe try to reteach what, you know, you’ve just heard.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Scott Freeman — So it’s a little bit of a look back and a look forward. It gets people involved with the reading plan, and hopefully create some questions that they may have coming into next week’s teaching, and they come ready to to learn. Um, we do ah, you know, we ask if they’re going to do a book or something kind of outside of the norm that they run it by us just to um, you know, make sure we’re okay with it. But you know if we’ve got somebody in a leadership position, 99% of time when they bring something up, it’s it’s great.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, totally.

Scott Freeman — Um, we have we have a church subscription to Right Now Media. So um, we we have group leaders that use curriculum from that at times. Um, we do encourage our leaders, you know, if there’s anything that you are um so dependent on, like we should forget to do the sermon questions one week and not it not be a tragedy. You know…

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Scott Freeman — …leaders ought to be able to move on and because things are going to happen. Um, and so we tell leaders, if you’ve done the sermon questions every single week for the last two years, you need to take a season and just stop.

Rich Birch — Right. That’s a good insight.

Scott Freeman — So the main the main thing… Yeah, the main thing is keeping it fresh, not getting locked in on one one way of doing it. We also encourage groups to just change just the group dynamic. So one week ah, you know, come together as a group but then have the guys go in one room and the ladies go in another. Another week maybe just break up into small groups of four. Because the more you can change the the environment, change the people that folks are around, you never know which setting is going to allow someone to confess something, to bring up something that they’ve been scared to bring up. And so we just want to create as many different environments as possible so that life change can happen through that.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s that’s cool. I love that. There’s obviously, you know, I love the direct connection, you know, that every group leader or couple has, you know, some people that they can interact with. Love that; I think that’s fantastic. Obviously a really great support in the background from that that point of view. But what other training, if I’m a community group leader, what other training am I getting kind of ongoing ah throughout the three years that I’m journeying that maybe like, do you do classes for them…

Scott Freeman — Right.

Rich Birch — …or you know, what does what does that look like?

Scott Freeman — Yeah, we have a group we have ah ah, an onboarding class called Equip and it’s as much vetting as it is training.

Rich Birch — Right.

Scott Freeman — We we have very um in-depth questions, I kind of icebreakers that are asking, um you you know, hey what’s the biggest challenge you’ve had in your marriage in the last year? What is your biggest failure as a parent? And we just want to see are you willing to share, are you willing to be honest about your own struggles? Because we don’t want you to go into a group as a leader and act like you have it all together, because you don’t.

Rich Birch — Right.

Scott Freeman — And that’s not gonna promote, you know, transparency in the people that are in your group as well. Um, you know we even asked leaders, hey imagine that a year from now you’re disqualified from ministry. What sin pattern would it be that that got you there?

Rich Birch — Wow.

Scott Freeman — And just make people think through um those type real, you know, struggles and questions. So we do um, a lot of that a lot of, you know, shepherding ideas. We use a lot of Paul Tripp material with ah Love-Know-Speak-Do um. Ah so we train them um, before we launch them as leaders with material like that. And then once they are leading I do a monthly podcast about just a um, a topic related to leading groups. It might be struggling with you know your group struggling with attendance. It might be how to lead the singles in your groups well. It might be um, you know, ideas of service projects that you can do, different things. Um, so just each month I put something out like that. It goes to all 250 leaders. And then our group pastors are in constant communication with those leaders, whether it’s a quick conversation on a Sunday morning between services, or a huddle where the pastor gets 5 or 6 group leaders together and they just share, hey here’s a challenge I’ve got. How would you handle that? You know, and just sharing best practices and ideas. So um, we we definitely don’t want to train them and say, all right call us if you have any issues, and not be proactive about continuing…

Rich Birch — Ah, good luck.

Scott Freeman — Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, you’re ready – go for it.

Rich Birch — Ah we’ll see in 3 years.

Scott Freeman — Yeah, that’s right.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, okay. That’s cool. That’s really cool. Now when you look to the future, what are some questions that are on the horizon for you – stuff that you’re wrestling with, thinking through, hmm like I wonder, you know, maybe some things that you’re, you know, thinking about – do we… should we change up, that kind of thing?

Scott Freeman — Yeah, um, you know, I think we’ve had tension on um, how much freedom to give leaders and then how much to legislate. Um you know, I think if we if we give too much direction and “you have to do this, you have to do this, you have to do this”, then our more capable leaders feel stifled and are kind of like, you know, you really you could get anybody to do that.

Rich Birch — Yeah, you don’t need me.

Scott Freeman — I’ve just become, you know…that’s right. Um, but then some of our our newer leaders who might need more support. Um, and so I think finding that balance of providing enough direction and support for them without stifling the leaders. You know, we’ve got a lot of leaders who are CEOs during the week in their company, and then telling them how they have to take attendance, or how they have to do this. And and giving them some freedom in that and just, you know, releasing some of that to them and say, hey you’re a leader. We trust you we want to come alongside you and help you do that. But I would say that’s a challenge that um that we’re wrestling with. And then just constantly trying to keep the leadership pipeline going and making sure that we have enough leaders. If we do, you know, if God continues to bless us and we do continue to grow in the way that we have, that we have enough leaders to to lead those folks that that God brings to us in the in the years to come.

Rich Birch — Love it. Do you guys do like um like mult… like kind of entry points during the year like groups are starting kind of in seasons or are they just starting all the time.

Scott Freeman — Yeah, um, we do start I guess there are two main, you know, beginning of the spring, beginning of the fall.

Rich Birch — Yep.

Scott Freeman — Our smaller campuses have a little bit more flexibility because the membership class or the entry point might have 4 or 6 or 10 people coming at a time versus a bigger campus that has, you know dozens coming at a time. And so there is some flexibility and our smaller campuses may launch a little bit more often. Um, we have we’ve tried events, like we did ah a group launch…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Scott Freeman — …um which started to feel a lot like rushed or speed dating…

Rich Birch — Okay, yes, yes.

Scott Freeman — …I heard some people call it. Um, and so we’ve we’ve tried to not make it feel like that, but also be intentional and help people find a group as quickly as possible. Um I think we we felt more tension when community group was the only form of biblical community to get people in quickly. Whereas now that we have men’s and women’s ministry, and we have Re-engage, and we have Re-gen, there are a lot of ways that folks can get connected ah in the window of time between them arriving at the church and then actually getting placed in a community group. You know, even if they show up in February and we’re not launching groups until August, there are plenty of ways to get connected to get them involved and and disciple them before they get into a community group in August so.

Rich Birch — Interesting. This is this been fantastic. It’s like been a great, I got a page of notes here. Look it’s like looking up under the hood of everything that’s going on at your church. I love that. Just as we’re kind of coming to the end here, is there anything else you love to share to kind of give us a sense of what’s going on in your, you know, Biblical community at the church?

Scott Freeman — Um, I mean I would just say all the ideas and things that we used or most of it we’ve we’ve stolen from other people, you know.

Rich Birch — Yes, absolutely, absolutely. Yeah for sure.

Scott Freeman — Especially in the early in the early days we we met with a ton of other folks to figure out what it looked like to um, to do groups. And and some of that stuff we’ve held onto, some stuff we’ve changed. Um I will I will share some documents with you that we can, you know, include…

Rich Birch — Oh great.

Scott Freeman — …include in the show notes that folks can um you know use and take and change and do whatever they want to with.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Scott Freeman — But ah you know, if we can pay that forward and and help folks um I know when we first went to Watermark and saw the scale that they were doing Re-gen and Re-engage, I kind of thought there’s no way we’ll ever do it at this scale. And I know that there are people that look at our church and think the same thing. And I would just say you really you can scale any of these ideas to whatever size you’re at currently and it can um it can still work. So.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. What what would be some of the documents or maybe talk us through what those would be because so people could, we’ll put them in the show notes, friends, we’ll link there.

Scott Freeman — Yeah.

Rich Birch — But give us a sense of what some of those are, or or you know one that’s particularly helpful you think oh this could be really good for church leaders.

Scott Freeman — Sure, the um the Equip class that we use for onboarding leaders and training them, I can include kind of what we do for that.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Scott Freeman — We did take those Paul Tripp ideas and expand them into just some shepherding values that we want our leaders to um, you know, to love their groups, um, you know to know them thoroughly, to love them patiently, to speak wisely and direct biblically, and um, you know, to pray throughout all of that. Um, and so there are some ah things that we’ve created around that idea that I can put in there.

Rich Birch — Love it.

Scott Freeman — And um, yeah, just just a lot of you know again things that we’ve stolen from other churches through the years…

Rich Birch — Yes, love it.

Scott Freeman — …and kind of tweak to make our own. So.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s so good; that that’s so helpful. I really appreciate that, Scott. That’ll be that’ll be a great resource for for folks to take a look at. And you know, I know we’re always looking to kind of learn from each other and that’s a great a great way to do that. So thank you. Well, I really appreciate you being on the show today. If we want to send people somewhere online to track with you, track with the church, where do we want to send them to do that?

Scott Freeman — Yeah, our website is – sc as in South Carolina and yeah I would encourage we have you know teaching on there. We have a lot of our curriculum from our men’s roundtable, from our Ezer women’s ministry that ah, that might be of help. And um and all of our staff I know that one of my favorite things is meeting with folks from other churches and…

Rich Birch — Totally.

Scott Freeman — …and sharing ideas because we we learn as much as we um share, probably more. So um, ah feel free to to reach out and email and we’re we’re here to help any way we can.

Rich Birch — That’s wonderful. Thanks so much for being on the show today, Scott. Really appreciate you. Thanks for being here, man.

Scott Freeman — Yeah, thank you. Thanks for what you do.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.