By: Heather Cox
Reverend John Freed graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2003, after majoring in Christian Ministries. Freed then went on to obtain his Masters Degree in Christian Leadership through Wesley Seminary, graduating in 2008.
Today, Freed is the lead pastor of Waterline Church located in Fishers, Indiana, which he also founded along with his wife Danielle, who is also a 2003 IWU graduate.
While pursuing his Masters Degree, Freed said he appreciated the flexibility of the program. He was able to continue working in Ministry while also going to school. Freed explained that he didn’t want to have to step away from Ministry to step into a classroom.
“The teaching was very relevant to what I was working with. I could tailor what I was learning to my ministry,” Freed explained. “As I went through the master’s program… it allowed me to really understand and clarify the calling that God has on my life.”
While he was a student at IWU, Freed had a few professors that were particularly his favorite.
“I would say Dr. David Smith and Dr. Jim Lo were both very influential,” Freed said. “Dr. Keith Drury was a very influential Professor and mentor.”
Freed is able to confidently say that planting Waterline Church with his wife is something he was created to do.
“When I was going through the beginning stages in the beginning phases of church planting and starting something from scratch, I could see that I was supposed to do this with my life– that I was created to do this. Because of starting this church and church multiplication, church planting is something that has only been reaffirming my calling in life,” Freed explained. “I talked to one person a few months ago, and they have said they’ve never really had that feeling that this is what they were created to do, and I can definitely say that starting this church with Danielle is something I was created to do.”
The process hasn’t been entirely easy, however. Freed said one obstacle he had to overcome was learning about fundraising and how to fundraise.
“Church planting requires a lot of resources and a lot of partnership. I didn’t know how that was going to happen, but because of God’s calling and strong mentors, I was able to learn the skills of fundraising. Now I teach that to other church planters,” Freed said.
Freed loves leadership development.
“I absolutely love pouring into the leaders of our church and developing them. All of our staff are very young, and they’re full time. This is their very first job out of college, so helping them discover their own calling and what God created them to do [is awesome],” Freed said.
Freed explained that Waterline Church is a unique place to be, because the church reaches a unique group of people. The church specifically reaches out to people and families without a church background.
“Maybe [Waterline congregants] have never felt comfortable stepping into a church. We’ve created a place for people who are curious about those things to come and just be curious, to be welcomed and accepted no matter where they’re at their spiritual journey,” Freed said.
Because Waterline’s goal is to reach those who do not regularly attend church, they like to host a lot of events to become connected with the community.
“We want to earn the right to tell people about Jesus. We do that by serving in our community: being generous and finding projects that maybe most people overlook, but that are a huge need in our community. Then we just pour leadership and resources, and we use all of our gifts and our talents to meet those needs,” Freed explained.
Among those events include benefit concerts for human trafficking and for victims of crime and abuse. Through events such as the benefit concerts, Waterline has paid for the therapy and counseling for 80 children and families who have been victims of sexual abuse.
Additionally, Waterline has partnered with various organizations. Recently they have provided 250 pairs of socks for homeless people and 12,000 items for expectant mothers, incuding 7,000 diapers and 5,000 wipes.
The church is also in the process of planning an Easter egg drop, scheduled for April 15. A hot air balloon is going to drop 10,000 Easter eggs onto a field for children in the community. According to Waterline Church, this is a free event for the first 750 pre-registered children up to age 10.
When it comes to words of wisdom for current Indiana Wesleyan students, Freed said to “start!”
“Start something. Even if you fail at starting it, at least you tried starting it. Just try to start something new, start something fresh, something that no one else has done. It will push you, and it will stretch you,” Freed said. “It’s not about actually accomplishing it, it’s about the actual process.”
Written by Heather Cox, writer for the Alumni Office. Heather is a junior Journalism major at IWU. She is also the Editor of GrantCOnnected.net, a community news site run by IWU students. She is unsure of where life will take her after college, but she knows she never wants to stop writing!