5 Best Church-Wide Campaigns for Fall 2015

14164934172_d5b87a8da1_cI don’t know about your church, but right about now is when many churches pull the trigger on a fall church-wide campaign.  And although there are two other windows when the impact of a campaign can be optimized, in many ways the fall is still the best of the three.  See also, When Is the Best Time to Launch a Church-Wide Campaign.

While choosing the best church-wide campaigns is certainly subjective, I’ve made these selections with over a decade of experience leading churches through the process of choosing, designing and launching powerful and trajectory altering church-wide campaigns.  See also, How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign and Church-Wide Campaign Coaching.

Here are my picks for the 5 best campaigns for fall 2015:

transformed 3DVD-driven, Transformed is a 7 session study that accompanies a 7 week message series.  Although this campaign launched in 2014, this is a potent theme and should be on your radar.   Anchored in the apostle Paul’s profound truth in Romans 12:2, this campaign will guide and grow your church by exploring what the Bible has to say about every essential area of our lives: Spiritual, Physical, Mental, Emotional, Relational, Financial, and Vocational.Like all of Saddleback’s campaigns, this one is the complete package and is a true church-wide campaign with material for the whole family.

I like Transformed because it will appeal to both the congregation and the crowd (and in many situations to the community as well). Who doesn’t sense the need to change in some way? You can read my full review right here.

freeway

Freeway: A Not So Perfect Guide to Freedom is a powerful seven session study by Mike Foster and Garry Poole.  Built on God’s amazing grace, honest conversations with friends, and finding freedom from deepest pain and struggles, Freeway is way more than a study.  It’s an experience in the very best sense of the word.

I love this study.  If you’re looking for a study that will take people on a journey, a grace-filled journey, toward the life God dreams for them, you’ll love this study too.  Freeway is the kind of study that will cause you to see every other study in a new light.  Great stuff.  I loved it and I think you will too.

You can read my full review right here.

finding your way

Finding Your Way Back to God: Five Awakenings to Your New Life has the most powerful  outreach potential I’ve come across in a long time. If you’ve not had a chance to spend some time with the book yet, you need to make time!  This book is a game-changer!

Finding Your Way Back to God is being done as a campaign series as I write this review at Community Christian Church in the Chicago.  The resources you need to put on your own campaign will be available from July to December (including sermon transcripts, small group participant/leader guides, teaching videos, series bumper video, and website graphic).  You can sign up to find out more right here.

You can read my full review of the book right here.

Life on Mission largeIf you’re looking for a church-wide campaign that will help your whole congregation step into mission, Life on Mission is calling your name.  I found it very compelling and I think you will too.

DVD-driven, the sessions average 14 to 18 minutes in length and feature a combination of Harlow’s very engaging style of teaching, compelling stories from church members, and a collection of short vignettes by Mindy Caliguire, Tom Holladay, Gene Appel, Jud Wilhite, Lee Strobel, Cam Huxford, Kyle Idelman, Cal Jernigan and Alan Hirsch.  If you’re not familiar with Tim Harlow, he is the senior pastor of Parkview Christian Church in Orland Park, Illinois, one of the fastest growing churches in America for 7 of the last 10 years.  I had the great privilege of serving on Tim’s staff at Parkview and am so excited that his teaching ended up in a campaign we can all take advantage of!  You can read my full review right here.

be the message

Be the Message is the newest campaign from Kerry and Chris Shook, founders ofWoodlands Church, a multi-campus church with attendance of over 18,000 outside of Houston, Texas.   No strangers to the development of church-wide campaigns, their previous campaigns (One Month to LiveLove at Last Sight, and Stolen) have been very popular.

Be the Message is a 5 session study based on a very simple idea: “the gospel is not about what you say.  It is about who you are and what you do–and how you can be God’s hands and feet in the world.”

Truly a church-wide campaign, the Be the Message Challenge Kit includes everything you need to do this campaign at your church (weekly sermon outlines, promotional artwork, outreach ideas, and much more).  Free downloadable children’s curriculum on the website makes it possible for everyone to have the same conversation.  You can read my full review right here.

Image by Kwibuka Rwanda

A Must Read: Finding Your Way Back to God

finding your wayFinally had the time to finish my review of a new book by Dave and Jon Ferguson.  Finding Your Way Back to God: Five Awakenings to Your New Life has tremendous outreach potential and if you’ve not had a chance to spend some time with this book, you need to make time!  This book is a game-changer!

Finding Your Way Back to God is very well-written and might be one of the easiest books to read I’ve ever come across.  At the same time, it is packed with provocative stories of life-change and redemption.

One of my favorite things about Finding Your Way Back to God is its built-in potential to be used as an “I’ll read it with you” resource.  If you have a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker or a family member that you’ve been hoping and looking for ways to help them take a step toward God, this is a book you need to know about.

As the subtitle indicates, there are five awakenings “that almost always occur in a person’s journey back to God.”  I like the way the authors describe the awakenings: “Where people start and what motivates them to begin this journey are often different, but the stages they go through are remarkably similar.”  The book explores five different “God, if you are real” prayers that are intended to arouse the five awakenings.

The book also includes an intriguing element; one that I am looking forward to sharing with a few friends.  Referred to as a Thirty Day Wager, the last chapter of Finding Your Way Back to God is actually a kind of 30 day journal to be used by anyone willing to put 15 minutes a day into an honest pursuit to find God.  If you take a few minutes to flip through these pages you’ll begin thinking about people you know who could be persuaded to make the wager.

I particularly like the potential this book has as the anchor for a church-wide campaign.  Finding Your Way Back to God is being done as a campaign series as I write this review at Community Christian Church in the Chicago.  The resources you need to put on your own campaign will be available from July to December (including sermon transcripts, small group participant/leader guides, teaching videos, series bumper video, and website graphic).  You can sign up to find out more right here.

I love the potential of this book.  Whether you give it away, read it with one friend, use it in your small group, or use it for a church-wide campaign, there is real potential for many, many people to find their way back to God.  I highly recommend that you take a look at Finding Your Way Back to God.

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above may be “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I may receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Thinking Thursday: Forget Big Change, Start with a Tiny Habit

bj foggWhat if someone told you to floss only one tooth everyday? Or start the new year, not with grand resolutions, but with a simple challenge.. like ONE pushup a day? BJ Fogg shows us that the key to lasting change does not lie in planning big, monumental changes, but in thinking really, really small. Chosen by Fortune Magazine as one of “10 New Gurus You Should Know”, Fogg directs the Persuasive Tech Lab at Stanford University.

I heard about BJ Fogg from my friend Eric Swanson.  He’s mentioned Fogg many times.  The most recent mention is in his Leadership Network article The Minimum Viable Spiritual Growth Plan.  Here is a very good companion article.

Can’t see the video?  You can see it right here.

Quotebook: Dallas Willard on How to Become Like Christ

follow pathwayIf it is true that “whatever you want to happen at the member level, will have to happen to the leader first” there can be no question about what must happen to the leaders in your small group ministry.  And by extension, there can be little debate about the role of a coach.

And if the role of the coach is to do to and for (and with) the leader whatever you want the leader to do to and for (and with) their members, the question must be asked…what is it that we want to happen in the lives of the members of our groups?  My argument?  We want the members of our groups to become like Christ.  How?  By following Jesus in the overall style of life He chose for Himself.

I love the clarifying simplicity of this line from Dallas Willard’s, The Spirit of the Disciplines:

“My central claim is that we can become like Christ by doing one thing — by following him in the overall style of life he chose for himself.” (The Spirit of the Disciplines, ix)

Father in Heaven…let us all seek to follow Jesus in the overall style of life He chose for Himself.

Image by Dustin

FAQ: What’s the Best Way to Connect a Leader with a Coach?

conversationI do get a lot of questions and this is a very frequent question.  Usually this question is one of a rapid-fire list of questions about small group coaching.  See also, 20 Frequently Asked Questions about Small Group Coaching.

What’s the best way to connect a leader with a coach?

The Best Way to Connect a Leader with a Coach

Important Note: All of this assumes that you have done the hard work of recruiting the right men and women to serve as coaches.  See also, 6 Characteristics of an Effective Small Group Coach.

Here’s how I answer.

First of all, the best time to connect a leader with a coach is when the leader is brand new.  When a leader is brand new they almost always have a little anxiety, have a lot of questions, and are very open to the idea that they need help.  This stage only lasts for about three months.  In the first three months a new leader either figures out how to do the basic things that keep a new group alive…or the group often dies.

If the new leader makes it through the first three months without a coach it becomes much more difficult for them to believe they actually need a coach.  Most commonly, once a new leader develops confidence that they know how to do it, they know intuitively that whatever a coach might provide…they already know.  This is actually not true, but it is a belief that is very hard to shake.  See also, See also, Small Group Ministry Myth #5: Only New Small Group Leaders Need a Coach and The Big Misunderstanding the Dooms Most Small Group Coaching Structures.

Second, the best way to connect a new leader with a coach is in person.  It is absolutely a major advantage when the introduction is face to face.  Especially when someone the new leader respects (like the senior pastor or small group pastor) is able to provide an introduction, a face to face meeting is a game changer.  “Joe, I’d like you to meet Bob.  Bob is one of our coaches.  He’s led a great small group for a number of years and he knows a lot about small groups.  I’ve asked Bob to be a resource to you as your new group gets going.”

Third, the best way to connect a new leader with a coach is with the right first conversation.  Once the introduction happens, a short conversation between coach and new leader is essential.  This face to face opportunity allows them to begin to know something about each other.  The coach can share a little of their story with the leader, modeling an appropriate answer.  And then the coach can ask the leader to “tell me a little bit about yourself.”  They can swap contact info (it’s helpful if the coach has a card or an info sheet with their contact info preprinted).  The coach should have a notebook or add info directly into their cell phone.

Fourth, the best way to connect a new leader with a coach is with a prearranged check-in.  One of the things that should be arranged during the first conversation is how and when is the best time to talk again.  “I’d love to check back with you in a few days to see how things are going.  When is the best time to talk for a few minutes?”  Follow up should be in person (i.e., right after the 9:00 a.m. service) or on the phone (lunchtime, morning commute Thursday night after your kids are asleep, etc.).  The key is a prearranged conversation.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by Kathleen Tylor Conklin

The Big Misunderstanding that Dooms Most Coaching Structures

misunderstanding doomI’ve written about small group coaching many times.  I’ve focused on coaching because I believe it is a widely misunderstood and frequently under-appreciated yet essential ingredient in building a thriving small group ministry.  See also, How to Build a Thriving Small Group Ministry.

Now, as challenging and difficult as it is to build an effective coaching structure, I believe if you don’t have coaching in place you will almost certainly fail at building a thriving small group ministry.  Why?  I believe this because I am convinced that whatever you want to happen at the member level, must happen to the leader first.  And once your small group ministry is larger than the number of leaders you can care for (about 10), you must expand your caring potential by adding an effective coaching structure.  [Teaching better technique has almost nothing to do with the role of a small group coach].

The Big Misunderstanding

I’ve often written that whatever you want to happen at the member level, must happen to the leader first. I believe this is the true why behind small group coaching.  I also believe it is at the very heart of a misunderstanding that causes many attempts at building an effective small group coaching structure to fail miserably.  What’s the misunderstanding? Far too many believe that small group coaching is about teaching better technique. And while it’s understandable (the batting coach on a major league baseball team works with players to correct or refine their swing or approach), teaching better technique has almost nothing to do with the role of a small group coach.  See also, Model What You Want to Happen at the Member Level and 5 Obstacles to Building an Effective Small Group Coaching Structure.

The major role of a small group coach is to do to and for (and with) the small group leader whatever you want the leader to do to and for (and with) their members.

Can you see how this understanding would almost completely change the characteristics of the kind of person who’d make the best small group coach?  Once you understand the major role of a coach to be doing to and for (and with) the small group leader whatever you want the leader to do to and for (and with) their members…you will begin looking for a different kind of person.  See also, 6 Essential Characteristics of an Effective Small Group Coach and Skill Training: Equip Your Coaches to Develop and Disciple Small Group Leaders.

Today’s Questions

  1. Are you recruiting the kinds of men and women who have what it takes to do to and for (and with) your small group leaders whatever you want your leaders to do to and for (and with) their members?
  2. Have you compromised and filled your coaching structure with warm and willing, instead of hot and qualified?
  3. Have you given up (not understanding that to miss this dooms your efforts to build a thriving small group ministry)?

What do you think? Have a question? Want to argue? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by Eyesplash

Dilbert on Resistance to Change

Sometimes you just need to laugh.

resistant to change

Thinking Thursday: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

Simon Sinek’s Start with Why has been one of the most influential books in the last 10 years.  In this powerful video, Sinek explains the heart of the idea that the book made popular.  I’ve watched it 6 or 7 times over the last few years.  If you’ve never seen it, you need to watch it today.  If you’ve seen it before, perhaps it’s time you watch it again!

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question “Why?” His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers … (Filmed at TEDxPugetSound.)

simon sinek 2

Can’t see the video? You can watch it right here.

Is It Time for a Course Correction?

course correctionOn a coaching call yesterday I realized that one of my coaching clients was doing several of the things they were doing in a slightly different way than I do them.  That is, the strategies they were using were close, but not quite, to what they needed to be doing.

Close…but missed it by this much! [Cue Maxwell Smart]

Something in our conversation reminded me of the Apollo 13 launch on April 11th, 1970 where an oxygen tank exploded 2 days into the mission causing the mission to be aborted.  The next several days were touch and go as several adjustments and heroic actions adjusted the course and ultimately brought the astronauts safely home on April 17th, 1970.  At one point, had they not made a slight adjustment they would have missed the earth by 80 miles on their re-entry attempt.

So my question for you today is this: Is it time for a course correction?  What are you doing that is just slightly off course?  What strategy are you using that is just slightly off, but will miss the target by 80 miles?  The reason we loved the Apollo 13 movie is that it was a true story that had a fantastic ending (while the tragedies of Apollo 1 and Challenger were still very fresh).

Is it time for a course correction?  Is a little diagnosis in order?  How much would it be worth?

What if I help you course correct and help you get where you want to go?

If you’d like a little help you can set up a coaching call right here. It’s easy to set up. It’s a small price to pay for peace of mind. It will lead to clarity on your next steps or your money back. And I’m a lot of fun to talk to!

Image by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

FAQ: When Should We Launch Small Groups in Our Church Plant?

FAQI get a lot of questions.  Here’s one I’ve gotten before and never answered on the blog:

We launched our church in 2013 and have about 50 adults attending regularly.  About 40% of them are connected in church groups like choir and ushering. Do you suggest we start small groups or wait until we raise the adult worship attendance.

Great question, don’t you think?  Many of you may have an opinion and I’d bet a fair number of you have actual experience in a church plant. I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

When Should We Launch Small Groups in Our Church Plant?

Keep in mind that there are several different strategies and if you ask around, you’ll probably get several different answers.  I think there are two main ideas:

  • Wait until you’re large enough. Kerrick Thomas, Nelson Searcy’s Executive Pastor, recommends that you wait until you have over 100 adults attending before beginning small groups.  You can read his rationale right here.
  • Start small groups before you launch worship. Eric Metcalf, Leadership Director at the New Thing Network and a Pastor at Community Christian Church, begins building small groups first and later launches a worship service.  You can read about this method right here.

I’ve seen it work both ways and I’ve also seen it work to launch small groups at nearly the same time as the public worship service.  An important factor may be what you recognize as the purpose of a small group.  For example, if almost anyone can pick up a small group host kit and invite a couple of their friends to join them for a study, wouldn’t that be an excellent way to speed up outreach?  On the other hand, if you’re counting on your small group leaders to help establish a brand new culture, you’ll want to be extra careful about which leaders and groups you send new members to.

Personally, my small group strategy is designed to leverage the outreach potential found in unconnected people whose closest connections are with neighbors, friends, co-workers and family.  Rather than wait for my weekend adult attendance to reach a minimum size of 100, I’d look for ways to help foster a growing number of outsider focused groups.  See also, 7 Assumptions that Shape My Small Group Strategy.

What do you think?  Have an opinion?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Image by PhotoSteve101

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