Making Disciples in a Post-COVID World

We all want to see disciples making disciples. After all, that’s our co-mission with Jesus.

In our context at Our Savior (Tacoma, Washington), COVID affirmed what we always knew: Relationships are essential to disciple-making.

Shortly after we returned to our regular, unrestricted worship services around March 2022, we noticed that people enjoyed being together in good activities (worship, fellowship time, etc.), but we know that disciple-making environments must go beyond just getting together. As a larger church with people re-engaging and new people trying to get connected, we needed a pathway into our Life Groups, our primary disciple-making space as a church.

More than a decade ago, I was introduced to the Rooted Experience through Faith Lutheran Church in St. Louis. Recently, the Pacific Southwest District has further developed Rooted for wider use.

The Rooted Experience is a 10-week experience designed to connect people to God, the church, and their purpose. Together, participants are invited to share a rhythm of daily scripture reading and devotions; sharing their faith; regular prayer time; fasting; generosity; repentance and absolution; serving their neighbors, and regular worship. Our target outcome was that Rooted Groups continue as a Life Group.

We launched a “pilot” Rooted group in January 2023 and saw more than 90 percent of the participants engage in an existing Life Group or begin a new one. It was reported that 100 percent of them felt like they were better connected to people after their Rooted experience than before they began. Win.

It was time to invite the masses into the Rooted Experience.

Thanks to a NOW District COVID-19 Community Care Grant which helped cover materials, more than 425 people participated in our Fall 2023 all-ministry initiative (including junior and high school students!). Groups were both in-person and online. Our weekend message series served as the biblical and inspirational foundation for corresponding daily devotions and weekly group discussions. For 10 weeks, existing groups, new groups, and our staff and leadership were having the same disciple-making conversations in real-time.

Here is what some people shared about their experience:

    • “I felt like I was part of a community with people who cared for me.”
    • “The highlight for me were the faith stories. Amazing how different they were in our group… the stories helped me to know my fellow groupies better and helped crystallize my own story.”
    • “Self-examination… closer connections with women in my group! We’ve become a real “sisterhood.” Our service project was so relevant – when I’ve mentioned it to others outside the church, the response has often been…. ‘that is real mission work’.”
    • “It was refreshing to hear others and share with others and be honest about everything that is not always just fine.”

We are now enjoying the fruit of Rooted. New Life Group leaders are equipped to lead their groups. New people are connecting in new Life Groups. People from across our ministries are connecting with others, growing to be more like Christ, and impacting their neighbors with the Gospel. Existing groups are stronger. New people are serving in meaningful ways in our wider community and through ministry programming. And, with another Rooted group in action now, we expect to launch more Life Groups with new people later this spring.

Want to learn more about Rooted and how you could implement it in your context? Connect with our Discipleship Pastor, Matt Cario at pastormatt@oslc.com or 253-531-2112.

Read about the NOW District COVID-19 Community Care Grant here.

Click here for more info about all NOW District grants

Tim Bayer

Our Savior - Tacoma, Washington

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