Joseph: VesperSquad was inspired by the church community I was a part of in Florida. Many people say college years are the best years of their lives, but I want every year to be the best. I want to have fun every year, so I started VesperSquad to find like-minded people. It’s about building relationships and building trust.
Katie: You started VesperSquad about three years ago. VesperSquad has seen a lot of growth. I know you’re really happy about it, but which aspect of it makes you so happy?
Joseph: People becoming friends. Pauline (pseudonym) was convicted to go to a church in Sacramento, and the first one she visited was Roseville church. I met her and invited her on a hike with VesperSquad. She loved it and she kept going to all the other VesperSquad events. She even went to Santa Crus Island with us! She made friends at VesperSquad. That makes me happy.
Katie: How did you know when the idea of VesperSquad was a right one to pursue?
Joseph: Probably the numbers. At the beginning, there were only two people in the group, and one only kept coming because the other consistently encouraged him to join. Then, we started to have music. Joe (pseudonym) agreed to play for us and he invited another friend to join. That friend also invited other friends. The number grew from two to fifteen. Also, we started doing icebreakers, and everyone started enjoying each others’ company. After awhile, my sister suggested incorporating food and camping trips. One time, all the food was prepared but the speaker canceled. I invited another bible study group to join for the meal, and 35 people showed up. All of us just started bonding and connecting.
Katie: Do you plan on growing VesperSquad? If so, how do you plan on growing it?
Joseph: I’m finding someone to co-lead. It’s important because partners motivate each other. I’d like to incorporate service as well. Right now, I’m planning a trip where VesperSquad can help restore a K-12 campus near the Bay Area. I’d like to also work with other young adult leaders at churches like, Grace Point, OpenDoor, Sac Central, Auburn, etc.
Katie: You’re an expert in digital marketing. Did you use some of those strategies to build VesperSquad?
Joseph: LinkedIn, FaceBook, Instagram, and SMS. I’d look for SAU graduates, Andrews graduates, Walla Walla graduates, and PUC graduates who live in this area.
Katie: What are some of the mistakes you wish you could’ve avoided?
Joseph: Not too aggressive about my pitch. I used to say, “You’ll meet your future wife there.” There’s about 165 people on the group chat now, but I reached out to 500 people. Also, I remember one time I didn’t communicate with my church and get their approval before planning an event. That didn’t go so well.
Katie: What should be avoided when a church member wants to create a community similar to the one you’ve started here in Sacramento?
Joseph: Number one is the Holy Spirit. We’ve got to remember that any successes in creating this type of community belong to God. It’s a personal achievement. Number two, keep secrets. Don’t tell a soul when it comes to romantic relationships. It’s hard as a leader. I went on a date with a girl that was part of VesperSquad. It didn’t turn out well, and she left the community. So, just go on the date and don’t broadcast it.
Katie: What’s your top 3 tips on creating community?
Joseph: Be more causal when you invite people to join your community. Say something like, “A couple of us are eating and hanging out. You should stop by.” Then, make sure you build relationships with older church members—the ones who have invested into the church you attend—because they will most likely be the ones to support you when you and your team needs help most. Finally, delegate. Start delegating as soon as possible. That’s pretty self-explanatory.
BY Joseph Cartwright & Katie C.M. Li