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Watch Saddleback’s Most Recent HOST Rally

host rallySaddleback’s most recent HOST rally happened on March 13th (yes that was a Friday night!).

It was a packed auditorium.  Great worship.  Lots of fun.  And a very inspiring message from Rick Warren.

There were some cool innovations that will transfer to your church.  They ran a contest and gave hosts a chance to have Rick come to their group.  Any host that stayed after the rally could get their picture taken with Rick.  There was great energy in the rally and you could clearly see Rick’s passion for small groups and small group hosts as key leaders in the church.

This you cannot miss.  Rick Warren is the small group champion at Saddleback.  He regularly leverages his influence as senior pastor to invite more people to join in the mission.

You can watch the HOST Rally right here.

You can watch a special video that Saddleback’s small groups watched in preparation for their upcoming church-wide campaign.

I hope you’ll watch this from start to finish.  It’s inspiring and very motivating.

Very Little Surprise Here: 21 Days of Flesh Has Real Possibilities

21 days of flesh.1Earlier this month I reviewed Flesh: Bringing the Incarnation Down to Earth, a new book by Hugh Halter.  Spoiler Alert: I loved it!  Let’s just say I found it “challenging with just a dash of scary–but so inspiring!”  You can read my full review right here.

I learned from Hugh that they’ve developed a 21 day church wide campaign and after looking at the concept, I think will be just the thing for some churches.  It won’t work for everyone, or at least not for every campaign.  But it’s a powerful topic and focused on the very thing that many of our churches need to develop.

What is the topic?  This paragraph from the 21 Days of Flesh resource page does a very good job of highlighting the big idea:

Flesh teaches people how to live their human lives like Jesus lived His human life. Everyone is talking about being missional these days, but missional only means “to be sent.” Incarnation is the key to everything because being incarnational is about going to the world like Jesus did. Hugh believes that almost every problem we have in church leadership and in our influence on the culture stems from the lack of incarnational Christ followers—and the Flesh campaign is designed to finally get at the issue.

A very simple campaign, there are just three ingredients:

  1. Listen to the weekend message for four weeks (the 21 Days of Flesh resource page has free sermon outlines that are fairly robust and far beyond what I would call an outline).
  2. Read a section of the book each week (Hugh’s style is very readable and packed with stories.  Every chapter concludes with a set of questions that will challenge and motivate those who take this journey and could easily be used to guide the small group discussion).
  3. Read a simple daily devotional for 21 days (also available as a PDF on the 21 Days of Flesh resource page and could be distributed by email to participants).

I really like this idea!  If you’re looking for a simple campaign that will introduce your congregation to a more incarnational form of ministry, don’t miss 21 Days of Flesh.  It may be just what you are looking for!

 

 

Review: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Church-Wide Initiative

emotionally healthy spiritualityFinally had a chance to finish previewing a new church-wide initiative from Peter Scazzero and Zondervan.  Emotionally Healthy Spirituality is an 8 session campaign based on Scazzero’s best-seller by the same title.  You probably remember Scazzero’s previous book, The Emotionally Healthy Church, a groundbreaking best-seller that was awarded a Gold Medallion by the ECPA.

The Main Idea

“The main idea is that emotional health (defined as our ability to be self-aware and love well) and contemplative spirituality (that is slowing down to cultivate our relationship with Jesus), offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution in our lives.”

The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS) Church-Wide Initiative has a number of elements:

  • EHS Church-Wide Initiative Resource DVD: This includes the preaching series and promotional pieces as well as a How to Run the Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Church-Wide Initiative.
  • EHS book (the workbook guides participants to read the chapters that correspond to the upcoming session)
  • EHS Day by Day book (includes devotional reading to be completed in the week following the session).
  • EHS Course DVD includes a short DVD segment to be watched by the group as the study session begins.
  • EHS Course Workbook will guide the group through their session together.

Small groups participate using The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course, an 8 session DVD-driven small group study. The video segments are short (11 to 15 minutes) and feature Pete Scazzero.  Scazzero’s content provides a good setup for the session and is delivered in a straightforward and easy-to-follow manner.

The EHS Course workbook is well designed and easy to use.  It includes an icebreaker question and a thought-provoking set of discussion questions.  Each session also includes a Bible study that will help the group make the connection between scripture and emotionally healthy spirituality.  The workbook also includes material for between sessions personal study (enhanced by readings in the EHS Day to Day book) and a simple leader’s guide.

The EHS Day to Day book is a kind of daily devotional with a very basic premise: “We need to intentionally stop to be with God more than once a day so that practicing the presence of God becomes real in our lives.”  As such, it includes a morning segment and a midday/evening segment.

The EHS book is not an especially difficult read, but it will be challenging from the standpoint of time commitment for the average group member.  The combination of readings from the Day to Day book and readings from the book itself will force many to choose between the two.  Although the group member experience will be enhanced by the reading, members can easily grasp the concepts without the book.

Emotionally healthy spirituality is not a topic that will easily capture the imagination or peak the interest of every member.  Pastors and group leaders will need to encourage members to wade into these waters.  At the same time, The Emotionally Healthy Spirituality Course will provide a powerful life-changing experience for groups and group members that roll up their sleeves and do the work.

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 will 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.

4 Keys to Choosing the Next Study for New Groups

I’ve pointed out that the time to think about what’s next for new groups is before you even begin.  Whether you’re starting new groups with a church-wide campaign, a small group connection, or an on-campus strategy with a built-in next step that launches off-campus groups, it is essential to choose the follow-up study before you even begin.  See also, Now Is the Time to Think about What’s Next.

What we need to talk about now is how to choose the best next study for your new groups.  While there are plenty of studies that might get the job done, with a little attention to detail you can choose the best next study.  Here are a few things to think about:

  • Whenever possible, choose a follow-up study that is similar-in-kind to the launching study.  If you recruited new HOSTs with the promise that “this study almost leads itself,” be sure and choose a follow-up study that is also easy to use.  If your launching study was a “show up” study (as opposed to preparation or homework), choose a show-up study as follow-up.  DVD-driven?  You get the idea.
  • Choose a follow-up study that will have broad appeal.  Stay away from studies that will exclude some groups or some members (i.e., marriage, parenting, etc.).
  • Pay attention to seasonal realities or issues.  Certain themes lend themselves to certain seasons.  For example, January is an opportunity for a study about fresh starts or new foundations.  Late fall is often an opportunity to focus on the true meaning of Christmas or making a difference in the community.
  • Consider the cost of participating and factor it into your choice.  Some studies on require the DVD or the leader’s guide.  Others require the study guide and a devotional book.

Although there are no truly one-size-fits-all studies, making a good selection will encourage more of your newest groups to continue.  Next to providing a coach, choosing a follow-up study that is similar-in-kind and beginning to promote it as early as week 3 or 4 of the launching study one of the most important keys to sustaining new groups.  See also, 5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups.

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

Be the Message: A New Church-Wide Campaign from Kerry Shook

be the messageSpent some time this week reviewing a new church-wide campaign that I think you’re going to want to hear about.  Be the Message is the newest campaign from Kerry and Chris Shook, founders of Woodlands 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 Live, Love 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.

The DVD features 5 video messages featuring Kerry and Chris Shook.  Averaging 8 to 13 minutes, these segments are short and at just the right length that will easily hold the attention of your members.  Well produced, there is a great look and feel that will help your members feel like they are in a conversation with Kerry and Chris.

The small group interactive guide is very simple to use.  The video teaching will set up a good discussion and the included set of well written discussion questions will guide your group through the study.  Each session also includes a love the one in front of you assignment that will help your members apply the powerful truths they will be learning.  A personal application section provides several questions for reflection in the days in between group meetings.

In addition to participating in a small group using the interactive guide, the full experience also includes a short reading assignment from the companion book, Be the Message.  Along with the reading assignment, members are challenged to read one chapter a day from the Book of John.

Be the Message will expose your congregation to a a lifestyle that is at the same time simple and very profound.  If you’re looking for a study that will help your members live the gospel, you need to take a look at this church-wide campaign.  This simple idea and practical next steps will help your members be the message.

Here are 6 Great Examples of a HOST Ask

If you’ve been along for very much of this conversation, you know that I believe the most exponential way to launch small groups is with a church-wide campaign that utilizes a HOST ask strategy (an open invitation from the senior pastor to host a small group).  There are lots of ways to launch groups.  I have no doubt this is the most potent strategy.

I’ve written about making the HOST ask many times.  When to make the ask.  How to set it up.  How many times to do it.  How to take advantage of testimony to make it even more powerful.  See also, How to Make the HOST Ask: The 2012 Version, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Several Times in a Row, and 6 Ways to Help Your Senior Pastor Make the HOST Ask.

And I’m often asked if there are some good examples of pastors making the HOST ask.  I took the time this week to gather up 6 that offer good variety and great examples.

Here are 6 examples of a HOST ask:

The first few listed here are well worth spending some time with.

These next 3 are from Preparing for Transformation (3 examples from Rick Warren’s Saddleback series just before the launch of 50 Days of Transformation).  Without a doubt, Rick Warren and Saddleback Church are the masters of this strategy.  These 3 messages are worth watching in their entirety.  You’ll get a good feel for how it works at the church that has leveraged this strategy to connect thousands more adults in groups than they have at their weekend services.

  • How God Changes Us (this is week one of the series just before 50 Days of Transformation. The ask happens at about 42:00 minutes in)
  • 5 Habits of Healthy People (this is week two of the series just before 50 Days of Transformation.  The ask happens at about 57:00 minutes in but there are several setups along the way).
  • Your Life Support System (this is week three of the series of the series just before 50 Days of Transformation.  This whole message is really an ask.  The most pointed section begins about 58 minutes in).

I hope you’ve found this post helpful and I’d love to know of any other great examples you come across.

What do you think?  Have one to add? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

7 Powerful Benefits of a Church-Wide Campaign

I’ve written in the past about the exponential power of a church-wide campaign.  I know of no other strategy that provides the game-changing and trajectory-shifting potential of a well-timed and well-executed church-wide campaign.

There are at least 7 powerful benefits:

  1. Spiritual growth.  The powerful combination of a weekend message series, a small group study, daily devotionals, memory verses, and a number of other ingredients enables exponential growth.  A concentrated dose on the right topic will often result in a life-changing trajectory shift.  See also, Essential Ingredients for Life-Change.
  2. One conversation.  When a church-wide campaign is truly a church-wide campaign (i.e., when there are resources for adults, teens and children), there can be one conversation around the dinner table.  Think about the power of every member of the family and everyone in the congregation talking about the same thing for 6 weeks.  See also, How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign,
  3. Congregational focus.  Church-wide campaigns can fan into flame new vision and new focus.  Far beyond the impact of a message series alone, the right elements can focus conversations and alter perspectives.
  4. New groups.  No other strategy even comes close to the new group launching potential of a church-wide campaign.  A senior pastor’s encouragement to “attend a worship service and join a 6 week small group that is using the study that goes along with what I’m teaching” is a powerful incentive.  See also, Top 5 Advantages of New Small Groups.
  5. Additional leaders.  With the right strategy it is very possible to identify the additional leaders your congregation needs in order to take your ministry to the next level.  Doing what you’ve always done will get you what’s you’ve always gotten.  If you want to break through barriers you will need more leaders and the best way to discover additional leaders is with a church-wide campaign.  See also, 5 Keys to Finding More Leaders.
  6. Momentum.  They say the hardest car to steer is a parked car.  A well-executed church-wide campaign can energize your congregation and help build momentum.
  7. Community outreach.  Your church-wide campaign topic determines two things: (a) who will say “yes” to hosting a small group and (b) who will say “yes” to attending a small group.  Choose a topic that appeals cross-culturally and your congregation will find it easy to invite friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members.  See also, The Easy/Hard Continuum and The Latest on Church-Wide Campaigns (2014).

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

5 Dangerous Myths about Church-Wide Campaigns

There are definitely ways that church-wide campaigns miss the mark and there are keys to avoiding a church-wide campaign disaster.  There are certain things you need to do to have a great church-wide campaign. See also, Top 10 Ways Church-Wide Campaigns Miss the Mark, 5 Keys to Avoiding a Church-Wide Campaign Disaster and 10 Simple Steps to a Great Church-Wide Campaign.

5 Dangerous Myths about Church-Wide Campaigns

There are certain myths about church-wide campaigns that set up bad expectations.  Hope and optimism are good things, but wishful thinking can set a congregation up for big disappointment right when they need a boost of encouragement.

People will believe anything and many believe that a church-wide campaign is…

  1. the solution for sagging attendance.  Can a campaign help reenergize a congregation and help inconsistent attendees become more consistent?  The short answer is yes, but only when the right groundwork has been laid.  The right campaign can encourage more consistent attendance when participants are challenged to make and keep commitments to “be here each Sunday and join a group that’s using the study that goes along with the message.”  Certain key ingredients make this commitment likely: a topic with broad appeal, a series of reasonable length (6 weeks is just right), and a study that is easy to do (homework tends to be a barrier).  See also, The Exponential Power of a Church-Wide Campaign.
  2. the solution for reaching neighbors, friends, co-workers and family.  The right church-wide campaign can provide the perfect invitation.  Choose a cross-cultural topic from the easy end of the Easy/Hard Continuum and the invite will almost make itself.  Choose the wrong topic and you won’t be able to bribe your dearest friends to join your group.  See also, The Easy/Hard ContinuumHow to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign, and The Latest on Church-Wide Campaigns (2014).
  3. the solution for disunity.  It is not actually the campaign that generates unity.  Developing a prayerful attitude.  A willingness to truly seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit.  Opening God’s word together.  Those are the things that bring unity.  Still, choosing a church-wide campaign that encourages those things will move you in the right direction.
  4. an easy way to launch a small group ministry.  The right church-wide campaign coupled with the right preparation and the right follow-through will go a long way in the effort to launch a small group ministry.  Still, it requires a lot of energy, resources, and persistence.  Do the right things.  Do all of the right things…and when the dust clears you should have a great beginning; the kind of beginning upon which you can build a thriving small group ministry.  See also, What Is the Best Way to Connect the Largest Number of People?
  5. an easy way to “get everyone on the same page.”  In much the same way that a church-wide campaign isn’t a solution for disunity, it won’t be an easy way to “get everyone on the same page.”  The right campaign won’t hurt and coupled with a compelling vision may provide momentum that will move your congregation in the direction of the same page.

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

Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again

Don’t miss this!  If you’re planning a church-wide campaign you must grab hold of this latest idea.  I believe it is at the very heart of how Saddleback amassed over 8400 groups for their most recent campaign (Transformed: How God Changes Us).  You read that right.  8400 groups.

Their idea was embedded in every message, every announcement, and every email.  Here’s an example from a Saddleback email sent just before the campaign began.  See if you can spot the idea:

“This weekend marks the beginning of Pastor Rick’s highly anticipated new series, 50 Days of Transformation! Through small group study and the weekend series, you’ll learn how real change—lasting change—can actually happen in your life. Sign up now to become a small group host. Hosting is easy! Grab two friends and your group is ready to go. Then join Pastor Rick this Friday, January 17 for a special gathering to celebrate the start of the series and pick up your group materials. Learn more at our website!”

Did you catch it?  Grab two friends and your group is ready to go.

Grab two friends and your group is ready to go.

Could this simple tweak really have been at the heart of how Saddleback jumped to over 8400 groups?  According to Steve Gladen, “there were many reasons, but starting groups organically was a huge part.”

If you’ve been along for very much of this journey, you know that I’ve always suggested lowering the bar even lower on the last weekend or two before the launch of the campaign.  It’s always made perfect sense to broaden the definition of who could host a group at the last minute.  That’s what I was talking about in Add 5 to 10% More Hosts with This Jedi Move and Mass Hysteria at the Grab-and-Go Table.

The Key Idea: Go Organic from the Opening Bell!

Based on Saddleback’s experience, I’m suggesting you adopt the language of “grab two friends and your group is ready to go.”

You still need to follow the 10 Simple Steps that Lead to a Great Church-Wide Campaign.  This is not a pass that eliminates planning or praying.  But clearly, it is a different game when your campaign has the potential to enlist a wave of people who have two friends!

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

Enlist Your Congregation in the Mission with “Life on Mission”

Life on Mission largeHad an opportunity to preview a new church-wide campaign from Tim Harlow (produced by Lifetogether and published by Pastors.com).  Life on Mission: God’s People Finding God’s Heart for the World is a 6 week campaign that “offers clear Bible teaching designed to empower you to share your faith with people right in your own neighborhood.”

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!

Taking his cue from Acts 1:8, the teaching centers on the powerful realization that although reaching the world is important, the United States is actually the 4th largest mission field opportunity and God has placed us where we are for a reason.  Based on Tim’s new book by the same title, I love the way the teaching zeroes in on reaching our own Jerusalem.

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.

The Life on Mission study guide includes a video viewing guide, an engaging set of discussion questions, a section devoted to applying what you’ve learned, and a digging deeper section designed to help those ready to explore the topic further.  Each of the six sessions also includes a short set of daily quiet time experiences.  A good set of leader and group resources are included in the study guide.

The Life on Mission campaign kit also includes a resource disc loaded with downloadable sermons, series artwork, powerpoint slides, and much more.

If 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!

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.”
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