FAQ: What’s the Best Way to Connect the Largest Number of Unconnected People?

What’s the Best Way to Connect the Largest Number of Unconnected People?

There are frequently asked questions…and then there are FREQUENTLY asked questions. This is one of the most frequent questions I am asked.

“What’s the best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people?”

Usually, the asker has done the math and realized that their percentage connected is dangerously low and that long before their current small group model, system or strategy will make any kind of significant dent, large numbers of unconnected people will have come and gone.

Usually, the asker has finally faced up to the fact that unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at their church again and is ready to make some changes.

Unconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at their church againUnconnected people are always one tough thing away from never being at their church again Click To Tweet

“Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change.” Tony Robbins

Let’s get personal. Are you there yet?

Are you there yet? Have you finally arrived at the conclusion that your current small group model, system or strategy won’t actually make a significant dent in your percentage connected?

If that’s you, here’s how I answer the question, “What’s the best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people?”

What’s the Best Way to Connect the Largest Number of Unconnected People?

While there are a number of strategies that will connect unconnected people (and all of them involve prioritizing the launch of new groups), there is actually a way to rank them in terms of their potential. See also, Ranking the Most Powerful Strategies for Launching New Groups.

And there is one strategy that easily surpasses all others in terms of its ability to launch a wave of new groups and connect large numbers of unconnected people at a time.

While North Point’s GroupLink strategy and Saddleback’s Small Group Connection strategies both are excellent at launching new groups and connecting unconnected people, they fall well short of the potential of a well conceived, well planned and well executed church-wide campaign.

Here’s my answer:

The best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people is a well conceived, well planned and well executed church-wide campaign.

There are a few important points in that statement:

First, a well conceived church-wide campaign is very different than one grabbed off the shelf without much forethought or analysis. A well conceived campaign is thoughtfully chosen. It is selected for its topic and chosen with a type of person in mind. Careful consideration is given to who the church would like to connect or what specific next step they would like participants to take.

Second, a well planned campaign is designed to do more than connect unconnected people and launch new groups. In a well planned campaign, attention is paid to important details in advance. Details like, what will need to do to help the largest number of new groups continue to meet after the campaign is over and when does the campaign need to begin in order to maximize participation?

Third, a well executed campaign is an exercise in precision. Everything is scripted in advance and nothing is last-minute or ad lib. Careful attention is paid to timing and focus. Timelines are developed and religiously adhered to. Every detail is scrutinized in advance and evaluated afterward.

Does a church-wide campaign fit your needs this fall?

If you’ve realized that a church-wide campaign would finally help your church connect unconnected people and launch new groups, but you also know you’ll need help pulling it off, take a look at Launching a Church-Wide Campaign This Fall? This article contains a number of free resources and also information on two resources designed to help your church develop a well conceived, well planned and well executed church-wide campaign.

Further Reading:

Launching a Church-Wide Campaign This Fall?

Ranking the Most Powerful Strategies for Launching New Groups

What Percentage of Your Adults Are Actually Connected?

 

 

Behind the Scenes: Promote Your Church-Wide Campaign Early and Often

One of our biggest ahas in learning to maximize the reach and impact of a church-wide campaign is that you gain a major advantage by promoting early and often.

Although that may seem obvious (like, “good one Captain Obvious”), and you may think you’re promoting early enough and often enough, it’s very possible that just like us you need to rethink your timeline.

Here are four keys you might need to incorporate:

Think about the way major movies are promoted

Think about the way major movies are promoted. That’s right. If you think about how Batman or Star Wars is promoted, you’ll likely come away with an idea or two.

For example, movies like Star Wars and Batman are first promoted very early with a trailer. It might be as simple as a single slide, “The Dark Knight Rises. Coming Soon.”

But the trailer runs months (and often a year) early.

Use multiple methods of promoting the campaign

Use multiple methods of promoting the campaign. In addition to promoting inside your auditorium, use the weekend program, website, church-wide emails, invite cards, and social media.

What begins months earlier (we begin promoting our fall church-wide campaign in late spring) with a single slide in the preservice slide loop accelerates to become everywhere by the end of the summer.

Keep your small group leaders in the loop

Keep your existing small group leaders in the loop. In fact, bring these leaders into the loop early. A “leader briefing” in late spring will help your group leaders communicate with group members about plans for the fall.

The leader briefing can be as simple as 15 minutes between the 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. services. A little vision from your senior pastor, a handout with the important dates of the campaign, and a 2 or 3 minute excerpt from the DVD will go a long way in helping your leaders get on board early.

Promote every phase separately over multiple weekends

Promote every phase over multiple weekends. When you’re recruiting hosts (“If you have a couple friends you’d like to do the study with…”) be sure and set aside three weekends when you’re only recruiting hosts (and not members).

Three weekends enables you to make the host ask to as many infrequent attenders as possible. A single weekend approach ensures that you only reach a very narrow slice.

When you’re recruiting members to join a group, you’ll want to make that ask over several weekends too. “If you want to get everything possible out of the message series this fall, you need to be part of a six-week group that is using the study that goes along with the weekend message series.”

Keep promoting opportunities to join in after the series begins

Keep promoting opportunities to join in after the series begins. Keep in mind that your infrequent attenders may hear about your church-wide campaign in its very first weekend (or the second). If you want to engage as many unconnected people as possible, keep inviting participation even after the message series begins.

Further Reading:

Behind the Scenes: Developing a Timeline for Your Church-Wide Campaign

Behind the Scenes: Preparing for a Church-Wide Campaign

How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign (Take a minute to check out one of my most popular mini-courses)

Image by Henry Burrows

Launching a Church-Wide Campaign This Fall?

Launching a Church-Wide Campaign This Fall?

What’s your plan for the fall ministry season? Launching a church-wide campaign? I sure hope so! After all, it is the very best way to launch the largest number of new groups and connect the largest number of unconnected people.

There are several ways I can help you:

First, here’s a collection of some of my most popular articles on church-wide campaigns:

If you’re a learner, you can easily use the strategies, ideas and tips in these articles to launch a powerful campaign.

Second, take a look at How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.

Take a look at How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign. I packed just about everything I know about church-wide campaigns in this very affordable mini-course.

If you sitting in on an expert tutorial helps you understand the ins-and-outs of strategy, this mini-course will be just the ticket. Click here to find out more about How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.

Third, engage me to customize your church-wide campaign.

Every year I work with 2 to 5 churches that want my personal attention and customized coaching as they conceive, plan and execute their church-wide campaign.

You’re going to invest a lot of time and energy in your campaign. You’re going to spend precious budget money on your campaign. Why not take advantage of my expertise and maximize your return on investment?

Over the last 10 years I’ve led many of the fastest growing and largest churches in America through the campaign process.

There’s a reason I have several of the highest ranked pages when you search for church-wide campaign information.  I know what I’m talking about!  More importantly, I can help you plan and launch a powerful campaign that leverages my experience, your passion for your church, and the absolute latest in campaign strategies.

Click here to find out about my Church-Wide Campaign Coaching service.

Take a Look at Life.Church’s Open Network

I’ve pointed you to what Life.Church is doing in the past. Small group ministry ideas, church-wide campaigns and a number of Craig Groeschel’s books.

As I was scouting for church-wide campaign ideas, I remembered one I had heard about earlier this year from Craig Groeschel and Life.Church. Two or three minutes of poking around in LIfe.Church’s Open Network resource and I found it.

Divine Direction teaches how to seek God’s will for our lives and how He cares more about who we are than what we do. Depending on your church’s needs and interests, you can see this might be a good topic that would interest lots of people. Maybe less cross-cultural than some topics, but still very much a hot topic.

Based on Groeshel’s latest book, Divine Directions: 7 Decisions That Will Change Your Life, the church-wide campaign includes a robust set of FREE resources:

  • Promotional items: artwork, banner graphics, bulletin social media, mailer, coming soon videos and much more.
  • Series guide
  • Life Group discussion questions videos
  • Sermon transcripts
  • Sermon bumper
  • and lots more

Divine Direction is just one of many, many sermon series that Life.Church has presented over the last 20 years and many of them are available in this same way and they are all FREE.

If you’ve not checked out the Life.Church Open Network (or maybe it’s been awhile), I highly recommend spending some time there to see what is available. If you’ve not seen it in the past, you’ll have to create a login to be able to see it, but it is definitely worth doing. Lot’s of great ideas!

An Analysis of the Church-Wide Campaign-Driven Strategy

An Analysis of the Church-Wide Campaign-Driven Strategy

Unlike the Free Market system or the Sermon-Based system (both of which are also very commonly semester systems), the Church-Wide Campaign-Driven strategy is actually part of a system and not the whole shebang.

For example, at Canyon Ridge we use several different strategies designed to connect people to groups over the course of the year. This set of strategies used over the course of the year are all designed to identify new leaders. A single church-wide campaign (typically in the fall) anchors our annual small group strategy. See also, Overview: Here Are Our Four Strategies for Launching New Groups.

A church-wide campaign is not a new idea. Churches have been using church-wide campaigns for many years, primarily as a way to rally the whole church around a vision (often connected with a capital campaign and a building project).

A church-wide campaign, or a spiritual growth emphasis (as Rick Warren refers to them) can be very powerful and do much more than connect adults to groups. Saddleback calls them a spiritual growth emphasis because a well-conceived, well-planned and well-executed church-wide campaign will have a powerful impact on the spiritual vitality of an entire church (from core to crowd and even into the community).

Full Disclosure: I believe a well-conceived, well-planned, and well-executed is the very best way to identify the largest number of leaders, launch the largest number of new groups, and connect the largest number of unconnected people.

Common Distinctives:

Church-wide campaigns have a number of distinctive elements:

  • They are alignments between a sermon series and a small group study. That is, what is studied in small groups enhances and reinforces the weekend sermon series.
  • Many campaigns include other elements, such as a daily devotional (think 40 Days of Purpose and The Purpose Driven Life), memory verses, serving opportunities, etc.
  • While there are many off-the-shelf church-wide campaigns, it is more and more common for churches to develop their own (produced in-house or farmed out to a production company). See also, The Latest on Church-Wide Campaigns – 2016.
  • The adult small group study is commonly DVD-driven.
  • Many campaigns are developed to include the whole congregation (with materials for children and students, as well).
  • Most campaigns include an effort to challenge unconnected adults to join groups that are using the campaign study (where they can get everything possible out of the message series).
  • Well-executed campaigns are designed to launch new small groups (and identify new leaders).

Advantages of the church-wide campaign-driven strategy:

Incorporating an annual church-wide campaign into your overall church strategy has a number of advantages:

  • It can focus your church on one conversation (children, students and adults can focus on a single topic).
  • Well-executed campaigns launch waves of new groups and identify new leaders. In my opinion, it is the very best way to connect the largest number of unconnected people and launch the largest number of new groups.
  • Connecting large numbers of unconnected adults into groups can provide an important first step into community.
  • Well-conceived and well-executed campaigns leverage the influence of the most influential person in the church (the senior pastor) to encourage whole congregations to participate (i.e, attend all 6 weekend services, be part of a group that’s using the study that goes along with the message series, do the daily devotional, etc.).
  • Well-executed campaigns very effectively sustain a large percentage of the new groups launched, helping many unconnected people take first steps into community.

Disadvantages of the church-wide campaign-driven strategy:

  • The effectiveness of a church-wide campaign rests largely on the senior pastor’s ability and willingness to play the role of champion. The most effective campaigns leverage the influence of the most influential person in the church to encourage everyone to fully participate. There is no truly effective substitute. See also, Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion.
  • Choosing the right campaign can be a challenge. Since the topic determines who will say “yes” to leading a group and who will say “yes” to joining a group, choosing a topic that appeals broadly is an essential step. See also, Your Church-Wide Campaign Topic Determines Two Huge Outcomes.
  • Church-wide campaigns require full participation and buy-in from senior leadership (senior pastor, staff, elders, etc.). Without full participation and buy-in results in a less successful campaign.
  • Effective church-wide campaigns dominate the calendar for 2 to 3 months of the year. Recruiting new leaders and then launching new groups is a 6 to 8 weekend project. Series promotion and execution is typically an overlapping 6 to 8 weekends. See also, Behind the Scenes: Developing a Timeline for Your Church-Wide Campaign.
  • Truly effective campaigns are never one of several things being promoted. They are always the only thing being promoted. This aspect necessitates rethinking the way other ministries and programs are launched or promoted.

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

The Very Best Way to Launch the Largest Number of New Groups

The Very Best Way to Launch the Largest Number of New Groups

I am regularly asked for ideas on the best ways to connect more people in groups. Having been working on the answer to this question for over 20 years, you might think I have a pat answer by now.

And you’d be right. I do have a pat answer.

A church-wide campaign is the best way to launch the largest number of new groups. A church-wide campaign is the best way to launch the largest number of new groups. Click To Tweet

A church-wide campaign is the best way to launch the largest number of new groups. And no other strategy even comes close.

But…it’s actually not quite that simple. It’s a little more complicated than that.

The correct answer to the question is that a well-conceived, well-planned, and well-executed church-wide campaign is the best way to launch the largest number of new groups.

*Check out my popular mini-course: How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.

A well-conceived church-wide campaign

What do I mean by a well-conceived church-wide campaign? That’s a little easier to explain than to actually pull off.

A well-conceived church-wide campaign is specifically designed or chosen to do the one thing you really, really want to do.

Let’s start with an understanding of “the one thing you really, really want to do.”

First, a well-conceived church-wide campaign acknowledges from the outset specifically who you hope to connect.

Specifically. Laser targeted. Not broadly or generally. Not all-inclusive. Not wishfully thinking about connecting everyone.

Specifically.

Specifically means the exact kind of person you hope to connect.

Example #1: You might determine that the ideal church-wide campaign for fall 2017 is one that appeals to the community, crowd and outside edge of your congregation. If you choose that kind of person you’ll also choose a topic that will appeal to to them (and might not tickle the fancy of the already connected).

Example #2: You might determine that the ideal church-wide campaign for fall 2017 is one that appeals to the inside edge of the congregation, committed and core. If you choose that kind of person you’ll choose a topic that will appeal to them (and might not tickle the fancy of unconnected people).

Why would you do either? In determining in advance who you hope to connect, you’re acknowledging that you cannot please everyone and you’re landing on the specific topic that will help the demographic you choose take the step you hope they’ll take.

In Example #1 you’re choosing a topic that will appeal to the community, crowd and outside edge of your congregation in hopes that they’ll be taking a first step into connection that will lead to more frequent attendance and the next steps that help people begin to follow Jesus.

In Example #2 you’re choosing a topic that will appeal to the inside edge of the congregation, committed and core in hopes that they’ll take the next steps that lead to greater commitment to Christ and the practices that demonstrate true spiritual maturity (i.e., serving in a gift-based passion-driven ministry role, giving generously, being other-centered, etc.).

See also, How to Choose the Right Church-Wide Campaign and Does Your Topic Connect with Your True Customer?

Second, a well-conceived church-wide campaign might be designed and developed by you or it might be an off-the-shelf campaign.

It’s gotten easier and easier to develop your own campaign when you have the right in-house team or can hire the right people for the project.

At the same time, there is a wide selection of off-the-shelf campaigns that can work very well in most contexts. See also, The Latest on Church-Wide Campaigns – 2016 and 2017’s Top 5 Church-Wide Campaigns.

A well-planned church-wide campaign

A well-planned church-wide campaign begins with the end-in-mind and builds in tailored steps that lead directly to the preferred future.

Well-planned church-wide campaigns aren’t last minute, wild-haired ideas. There aren’t impromptu work-arounds or bull-headed do-it-anyway moments.

Well-planned church-wide campaigns are calculated, shrewd and uncompromising. Anything and everything that could alter the trajectory is eliminated or deemphasized.

Well-planned church-wide campaigns begin to play out many months in advance. September campaigns are set in motion in the late spring…at the latest. February campaigns are often in play in the late fall.

See also, Behind the Scenes: Developing a Timeline for Your Church-Wide Campaign.

A well-executed church-wide campaign

Well-executed campaigns are detail oriented to the extreme. They are designed and executed with precision and moment-by-moment vigilance.

Execution is about carrying out the plan…to an exactness that may not be customary in your congregation’s experience.

Details that are often shrugged off are evaluated real-time and course corrections are swift.

Communication with all players (staff, existing group leaders, weekend service personnel, congregation) is uncompromising and exactly as planned. To the letter.

For example, all announcements (verbal, bulletin, website, email, etc,) and sermon mentions are often scripted and care is given to specific wording designed to emphasize important elements.

Example #1: In the fall of 2015 we used Saddleback’s Transformed: How God Changes You as our campaign.  In place of some outdated verbiage, we inserted the following lines to recruit hosts (people who would launch their own group with their own friends):

“If you have a couple friends you’d like to do the Transformed study with, stop off at Groups Central after the service today and pick up a Transformed Starter Kit. We’ve included everything you need to do the study with a couple friends and we’ve priced it super affordably.”

You need to note a few things:

  1. The wording was very specific.
  2. We never referred to “starting a group.”
  3. We made it as friend-oriented as possible: “If you have a couple friends.”
  4. It was intended to seem easy to do.
  5. We never referred to the price, only “we’ve priced it super affordably.”

This script was used dozens of times over the 8 weeks leading up to the launch of the Transformed series. Any deviation was noted and corrected immediately after the service.

Example #2: An important element of execution in a church-wide campaign is the specific narrowing of focus during the 8 weeks leading up to the launch of the weekend series. Virtually nothing else of significance competed with Transformed in 2015. On the flip side, our 2016 campaign (which was much less successful in every way) our attention slipped and too many additional items made it onto the stage for promotion.

See also, What If Narrowing the Focus Is THE Missing Ingredient? and Behind the Scenes: Preparing for a Church-Wide Campaign.

Top 5 Church-Wide Campaigns for 2017

Top 5 Church-Wide Campaigns for 2017Have you pulled the trigger yet on church-wide campaign for 2017? It’s not too late, but now is the time if you plan to incorporate a church-wide campaign (an alignment between your weekend message series and a small group study).  Although you would really have to hustle to take advantage of a campaign in February (in my mind the second best time of the year for a campaign), there are two other windows when the impact of a campaign can be optimized (post-Easter and fall).  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 15 years 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.

If you’re a subscriber to MarkHowellLive.com you’ll notice some repeats from last fall’s list. The truth is that although most years offer a selection of new campaigns, some are still too good to exclude.

Here are my picks for the Top 5 campaigns for 2017:

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.

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! I believe this might be the most powerful outreach campaign I’ve ever reviewed.

The DVD segments are very compelling and exactly the right length to grab and hold attention. Both Dave and Jon Ferguson come across as real people who genuinely care about this message. Each session also includes the compelling testimony of some who have found their way back to God. An aspect of the video segments that stands in stark contrast to some is that these people have a very familiar presence and feel like they could be your neighbors.

The resources you need to put on your own campaign (including sermon transcripts, small group participant/leader guides, teaching videos, series bumper video, and website graphic) are available from youwayback.org. You can find our more right here.

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

starting-overRecently had an opportunity to take a look at a powerful new campaign from Dave and Jon Ferguson. Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets is the newest project from the authors of Finding Your Way Back to God.

Starting Over was developed as a result of many conversations the Ferguson’s had with people who had read Finding Your Way Back to God: Five Awakenings to Your New Life. The authors made a curious discovery. If you’re familiar with Find Your Way Back, you may remember that the second awakening was awakening to regret. Their discovery? “Many of the people we talked to experienced the Awakening to Regret but then got stuck there.” Starting Over was developed to help people “come face to face with your regrets and learn to start over.”

Like Finding Your Way Back to God, the study (and accompanying videos) are very engaging. Packed with personal stories and skillfully told stories from the Bible, this is the kind of study that make it easy to invite friends, neighbors, co-workers and family.

A 5 session study, Starting Over is well-written and very easy to use. Although some participants may be anxious about joining a discussion on this topic, most will be quickly made at ease by the tone set in the opening questions. Each session of the study includes an opening icebreaker and questions that will consistently welcome everyone to the conversation. The Bible study portion of the study does a very good job of exploring a series of stories, Psalms, and passages on regret. A life application section will help participants make the story personal.

The participant guide also includes an extensive leader guide that will enable even the most inexperienced leader to feel better equipped to lead.

I have to tell you, I believe Starting Over: Your Life Beyond Regrets may have even greater potential than Finding Your Back to God. Why? I think regret is an even more cross-cultural topic. While everyone may not be overwhelmed by feelings of regret, everyone can personally relate. If you’re looking for a compelling study that will appeal to Christians and non-Christians alike, take a look at Starting Over. I love this study and I think you will too!

You can read my full review of the book and the study right here. Also, you’ll find all of the resources for the church-wide campaign right here.

Wonderlife: A Not So Perfect Guide to Who You Are and Why You’re Here is the newest resource from Mike Foster and the folks at SecondChance.org.  The study is designed to take people on “an authentic journey through their not-so-perfect stories to find their sacred calling.” Based on the principles of Psalm 139, the small group workbook, DVD and weekend series can easily be used as a church-wide campaign.

Covering the kind of topic that makes an easy invite for friends, neighbors, co-workers and family, it is designed to generate a fairly personal discussion. At the same time, it comes at it from such an exploratory angle, it ends up being fun and engaging at the same time.

If you’re looking for a study that makes for a great outreach opportunity, take a look at Wonderlife: A Not So Perfect Guide to Who You Are and Why You’re Here. I think you’ll like what you find. I loved this study and I think you will too!

The Miracle of Mercy, a new 6 six-week church-wide campaign, is anchored by a weekend teaching series that launched the weekend after Easter, 2016.

If you want to know how to leverage a church-wide campaign to unite your congregation around a purpose and fan into flame difference-making action…you absolutely must take a look at Saddleback’s newest spiritual growth campaign. This is very powerful stuff. Don’t miss it!

I have pointed out many times that Saddleback strategically uses their small group ministry to drive ministry initiatives (think 40 Days of Community and the P.E.A.C.E project). There has never been a better example than The Miracle of Mercy. If you want to unleash a tidal wave of impact on your community and the world, you must take a look at this campaign.

You can read my full review right here.

What if you could start 10 times as many new groups-

4 Essentials of Execution: Plan, Rehearse, Evaluate, and Adjust

essentials of execution4 Essentials of Execution: Plan, Rehearse, Evaluate, and Adjust

And…we’re off. We’re now two weekends into our fall launch.

The way our strategy is designed we will focus exclusively on casting vision for the series (Finding Your Way Back to God) and recruiting hosts for the first three weekends. By hosts, we mean people who respond to the specially designed ask: “If you have a couple friends you’d like to do the study with… (i.e., the study that goes along with the series).” See also, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Three Weekends in a Row and Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.

So far, our results are underwhelming. We saw improvement in the second weekend as we tightened up the ask (both our service host and teaching pastor pulled closer to the script) and more effectively cast vision for the series (the ‘why’). But there remains room for further improvement.

And we will continue to tweak and massage the launch until we work it into the right language, the right feel.

Which brings me to a short, but critical, explanation of the ingredients that go into a well executed small group launch.

4 Essentials of Execution:

  1. Plan. The best planning clarifies the win, makes clear what you are trying to do and removes the guesswork. Paint the bullseye before you shoot the arrow. For me, planning includes writing the script for the specific lines I want our communicators to us.
  2. Rehearse. Just prior to pulling the trigger it is a good idea to remind all players about their lines. Ideally, this is not improv. You think about this nearly year-round. Many of the other players (i.e., your senior pastor, your communication director, etc.) only think about a small group launch or church-wide campaign when it is rolling.
  3. Evaluate. Every move should be evaluated immediately (i.e., if you have two services you should be evaluating immediately after the first service). “How close was that to the script?” “Was that really what we planned?” “What were the results from that ‘ask’?” Remember, “Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.” If you don’t like the results from the first service…don’t assume the results were a fluke. They were generated by the execution of your design (or a deviation from the design).
  4. Adjust. If the results you achieve are not what you hoped for or expect, you must adjust what you are doing. As Albert Einstein shrewdly noted, “The definition of insanity is to do the same thing again and again and expect different results.” If you want different results, you must adjust the execution of your strategy.

We have our third move next weekend. I’ll keep you posted as we adjust (in hopes of a greater response, so we can connect a larger number of unconnected people).

Further Reading:

Image by Jeff Archer

What If Narrowing Your Focus Is THE Missing Piece?

narrow white noiseI’ve suggested MANY times that the most important ministry book you could read is Seven Practices of Effective Ministry. In fact, I’ve suggested it so many times that I’m actually disappointed in you if you haven’t read it multiple times. It is the best explanation for the way to do effective ministry. I really do believe that.

Which leads me to today’s post.

Have you ever wondered if there actually was a single most important missing piece to your strategy?

Think about this Andy Stanley line:

“Your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing.”

Is that phrase locked squarely in your mind?

Now think about this, what if you have everything right in your design except one thing? Could that one thing cause your results to still miss the mark? To keep you from achieving the win that you’ve clarified?

What do you think? Could getting everything right except one thing cause you to miss the mark?

Spoiler Alert: I believe your design only has to miss one thing in order to significantly alter your results.

That’s right. If your ministry is perfectly designed to produce the results you are currently experiencing…only one element of the design needs to be off.

8 Key Design Elements to a Successful Church-Wide Campaign:

For example, if I were to list the major design elements to a successful church-wide campaign, the list would include the following:

  1. The topic (or specific study chosen).
  2. The timing of the weekend message series.
  3. Isolating a single message for each weekend in the weeks leading up to the campaign.
  4. The senior pastor’s involvement as champion in promoting the campaign.
  5. The message series that leads up to the campaign.
  6. A clear distinction between the host ask and the group member ask.
  7. Connecting every new group leader with a coach.
  8. Choosing the follow up study in advance and promoting it skillfully to new group leaders and members.

What if you only missed one design element?

I believe you only have to miss one design element to end up with significantly reduced results.

Choose the wrong topic, you’re toast because the topic determines who will say yes to hosting and who say yes to joining a groups.

Chose the wrong timing for the series and clearly your results will be different.

Choose the wrong person to champion the campaign (anyone other than the senior pastor) and your results wlll be significantly reduced.

Choose the wrong message series leading up to the campaign and your host and member asks will seem forced.

Fail to differentiate between the host ask and the member ask and you will severely compromise the number of hosts you recruit.

Fail to connect every new leader with a coach or fail to choose the right follow up series and you will sustain far fewer new groups.

Note: For most of my readers, especially those who have completed How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign, this is all old news.

Special Note: Fail to isolate a single message, to narrow the focus, to a single objective and the whole thing can be drowned out by the white noise of too many opportunities.

The Most Overlooked Design Element?

I believe the most overlooked design element is the failure to isolate a single message, to narrow the focus, to a single objective. When too many things, too many options, are being promoted at the same time, the whole thing can be drowned out by the white noise of too many opportunities.

When you attempt to promote more than one thing at a time, your people hear noise. They do not hear options. They hear noise.

If you want to connect beyond the usual suspects, you must narrow the focus to the single message you want them to hear. When you don’t do that, it is a design problem Your design problem.

P.S. If you haven’t read Seven Practices of Effective Ministry you can order it right here (and join the smart set).

Further Reading:

Image by Andrew Kimmel

4 Ingredients of an Effective “Ask” (that Recruits Small Group Members)

4 Ingredients of an Effective -Ask-4 Ingredients of an Effective “Ask” (that Recruits Small Group Members)

I’m regularly asked, “What is the best way to get the most people involved in our upcoming church-wide campaign?”

To answer that question, I wrote what became one of my most popular articles, 5 Keys to Getting Everyone Involved in a Church-Wide Campaign. I won’t go into all 5 keys here, but I will remind you that getting everyone involved begins with your senior pastor.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

Getting everyone involved begins with your senior pastor.  There’s no getting around this.  Connecting everyone involves your senior pastor talking about the importance of being in a group every week.  When you’re launching a church-wide campaign, be sure your pastor is emphasizing the importance of “being part of a group that’s using the curriculum that goes along with the weekend message.”  See also Your Senior Pastor as Small Group Champion Leads to a Church OF Groups

Getting everyone involved begins with your senior pastor. And that begs the question, “What, exactly, does my senior pastor need to say to be most effective?” If getting everyone involved begins with your senior pastor, what does your senior pastor need to say to be most effective?

“What, exactly, does my senior pastor need to say to be most effective?”

Making the small group ask really involves two separate asks:

Here are what I think are the key ingredients of an effective “ask” that recruits small group members.

4 Ingredients of an Effective “Ask” (that recruits small group members):

There are 4 very important ingredients:

  1. Appropriate Urgency: If there is ever a place for passion it is in this ask. An effective ask always conveys a sense of urgency. There may be a place for blandly reporting the facts. It is not here. Certainly, there are senior pastors whose speaking style is even and rarely passionate. This is the moment for them to work to communicate urgency. See also, What’s Your Urgency Level for Unconnected People?
  2. Skillful Placement: Certainly the best time for the senior pastor to make the ask is during the sermon. Announcements and pre-service slides are helpful, but if you want to leverage the influence of the most influential person in your congregation, the time to do that is in the sermon. It also matters where the ask is placed within the sermon. In my opinion, the best time for the ask to happen is when the sermon naturally leads to an opportunity for a response. Obviously, some sermon topics lend themselves more naturally to an opportunity for this kind of response (and ultimately, this should be a factor in the selection of topics for the weeks leading up to a church-wide campaign).
  3. Visionary Language: Again, there may be times for bland reporting of the facts and details (when and where the small group connection is, childcare is offered, how to pick up your study guide, etc.). The ask is NOT the time for facts! It is the single best opportunity to cast vision about the potential impact of joining a small group.
  4. Action Step: When you make the ask, always ask for a response. “Fill out this card (hold it up) and drop it in the offering in a few minutes.” Too often, senior pastors include the other three ingredients and neglect asking for a response.

Very Important:

You must make the ask several weeks in a row. Don’t miss this. Unconnected people are infrequent attenders. They rarely attend two weeks in a row. See also, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Three Weeks in a Row.

Here is an example ask:

“I believe the message series we’re launching on September 18th is going to have a powerful impact on us. As your pastor, I want to challenge you to make three important commitments as we begin this series.

First, I want to challenge you to be here every week for this series.

Second, I want to challenge you to join a small group that is using the study that goes along with what I’ll be preaching. It’s a 7 week commitment. Joining a small group will help you take these important promises and principles deep into your life.

Third, I want to challenge you to read the daily devotional.

Listen, we believe Transformed is going to have a powerful impact on our lives. People will be talking about what happened here in the fall of 2016 for a long time. People will be talking about how their lives changed, their marriages were restored, their families got on the right track. You don’t want to get to November and realize you should have joined a small group.

If you’re not yet in a small group, I want to challenge you to sign up for our small group connection and get connected. In your bulletin is an insert…it looks like this (hold it up). Fill this out and drop it in the offering in a few minutes. Joining one of these 7 week groups is so important. Please don’t miss this.”

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