Episode 94: Hangouts: Helping Churches Get Better Connected
Vince Freeman is the visionary Young Adult Director at Rock Church in San Diego. This week he sat down with us to share how he has pioneered group hangouts as a new model of ministry in his church, and how God can use hangouts to bring more people into discipleship.
- The way that I define hangouts is they’re an invitation to expand the community and the Kingdom of God by doing what you already love to do. – Vince Freeman Click To Tweet
- Oftentimes the best ‘ministry’ conversations happen where you're playing basketball, and afterwards you guys are just sitting around… That's the opportunity to minister. – Vince Freeman Click To Tweet
- When it gets difficult – because it will – continue to cast the vision. Love people well and give them opportunities to do what they love to do, to bring people closer to Christ. – Vince Freeman Click To Tweet
- Hangouts are this organic response to the heart of God. It’s to bring people together. It’s to love one another well. – Mingo Palacios Click To Tweet
- A hangout is purely relational. This is how we’ve coined it for our church: it’s people helping people find and follow friends. – Mingo Palacios Click To Tweet
- It’s not about who shows up; it’s that you said yes to trying. – Mingo Palacios Click To Tweet
About Episode 94:
Vince Freeman was frustrated by the struggle of bringing people together within the large congregation at Rock Church. With up to 10,000 people per weekend across their multiple campuses, Vince worried that the young adults in his ministry were starting to feel disconnected and that the groups model was just not working. “Are we really connecting people well? Is the model that we have sustainable for them to actually grow in friendships with each other?”
That’s when Vince decided to try something else. Inspired by Dru and Trish Tevis at Aloha Church, he set out to create a new way of bringing people together: hangouts.
“The way that I define hangouts is they’re an invitation to expand the community and the Kingdom of God by doing what you already love to do,” Vince says.
He invited members of the Rock Church young adults’ community to host their own hangouts, asking others to join them in doing things they enjoy, whether it’s a game of ping pong, a movie night, playing board games, or even lightsaber dueling. “I don’t want you to think too hard about what it is that you want to do. What is it that you already are doing that you are willing to say, ‘Hey, this is happening this Saturday and I want to open it up so that people can be a part of it’?”
To make sure hangouts are enjoyable and doable, Vince set up a vetting process. Anyone who’s interested in hosting fills out a short Google Form with the specifics of the hangout (time, place, and activity), personal information, and emergency contact details. The church then posts an announcement on its Instagram Stories to let the congregation know about the hangout.
Since the implementation of hangouts at Rock Church in February 2019, they’ve had over 120 of them. Vince has been amazed at the fruits of letting people take ownership over connecting and sharing with others. “People, of their own volition, said, ‘I want to be a part of this. I want to see how God can use me through what He’s already gifted me in’… and that’s the beauty of it.”
Not only that, but Vince sees hangouts as an opportunity to encourage others in discipleship and bring them into leadership roles within the church. Of course, hangouts won’t replace your small groups, but rather provide a stepping stone to help young adults get comfortable in that setting and form strong relationships. “It doesn’t replace that [small group] curriculum, but it really feeds right into the ecosystem of our church.”
If you try hangouts at your own church and nobody steps up to get involved right away, that’s okay, Vince says. He shares that the weekly basketball hangout he hosts only had four or five participants for the first 3 months, but now it’s grown to 20 people. It’s all about showing people your invitation is genuine and personally reaching out to see who’s interested in coming. Even if nobody shows up at first, it’s okay. Don’t be discouraged by a slow start, and just keep trying. “If you can just be consistent… if you really have love for people, you’ll see it grow.”
In the near future, Vince is looking to expand the hangouts model to other areas of the church and continue to foster discipleship as people share their gifts with others. He encourages others to try this new framework for ministry as well and see the fruits that come from it. “Jesus hung out with so many fishermen. That was not Jesus’s trade, but he went and did things with the people who were around him. It’s just an invitation to get involved in someone else’s life.”