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Scalable & Sustainable Pastoral Care in a Large Church with Karen Shannon

Welcome back to the unSeminary podcast. We have a dear friend with us today, Pastor Karen Shannon from Liquid Church. Liquid Church is a multisite church in New Jersey, currently with six locations, three of which are permanent. Karen serves as the discipleship pastor and oversees the care ministry, outreach, and small group system.

Sometimes large or fast growing churches can get the reputation for not caring well for people or not supporting people as they seek to grow more deeply in their faith. Karen is here today to talk about what Liquid has changed over the years to better support the people they reach and nurture their walks with Jesus.

  • Discipleship and care through small groups. // Churches know that they can get people in the front door, but the back door can be just as wide and Liquid wanted to change that. So Karen and others on the staff sat down to talk about what systems needed to be developed to help people feel cared for and supported as they grew in their faith. They determined that about 85% of attendees at the church would be comfortable and able to grow in small group settings, but another 15% would need something more. Rather than letting these people fall through the cracks, Liquid sought to develop other networks of care.
  • Prayer team ministries. // At Liquid they’ve created several systems to accommodate the varying needs of the people. One of these is prayer teams that continue to develop and expand at all of the campuses. As part of the prayer teams they have at least ten prayer ministers available after the services at each campus. Those prayer ministers are the first level of care at the campuses and can connect the people they pray for with the care ministry in situations where people are looking for additional counseling. They also take time for things like hospital visitations to serve people who are in unique situations.
  • Counseling and care. // Another system created at Liquid is the care ministry to provide biblical counseling. Here Liquid identified individuals at every campus who had a heart for counseling and invited them into a Christian Counseling and Education Foundation (CCF) program. As part of the program, they take five CCF courses and are developed and equipped over the course of a year to care for and walk alongside people in practical ways. In addition to meeting one-on-one with people, they also run Liquid’s support groups.
  • Support groups can help support the pastor. // Liquid Church has created support groups to provide help for people in special circumstances when they need it. These support groups handle life difficulties such as divorce, grief or addiction. Pastors may find themselves overwhelmed thinking about how to provide care for a large congregation, and so ministries such as prayer teams, care ministries, and support groups can help tremendously in that area.

You can learn more about Liquid Church at or you can email Karen at [email protected].

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Lightning Round

Helpful Tech Tools //, Boomerang for Gmail

Ministries Following // Chris Hodges at Church of the Highlands, Erwin McManus at Mosaic,  Bruxy Cavey at The Meeting House

Influential Book // The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Inspiring Leader // Tim Keller and Sinclair Ferguson

What you do for fun // Hanging out with granddaughters, Kayaking, Canoeing, Fishing, Hospitality

Contact // email [email protected]

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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.