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5 Reasons to Launch New Groups in January/February

new-years-resolutions5 Reasons to Launch New Groups in January/February

If you want to build a thriving small group ministry it’s important to remember that you need to have a year-round approach to launching new groups. While the fall definitely presents the very best opportunity to connect the largest number of unconnected people, there are absolutely several other very good times every year to launch new groups (and connect people who for many reasons did not connect in the fall).

Late January/early February is another very good time to launch new groups. This season comes with certain motivations that aren’t part of the equation in the fall and need to be taken into consideration.

5 Reasons to Launch New Groups in January/February

  1. Every December finds another wave of unconnected people who realize they’ve got to make some changes. They’ve overspent on Christmas. They’re tired from trying to cart their children around to too many holiday commitments. They’ve overeaten and partied too much. They’ve let their exercise programs fall by the wayside. There is no better time of year than January/February to invite them to turn over a new leaf by getting involved with some other folks who are determined to have a better next year. That motivation provides an opportunity to use a study that appeals to people looking for a fresh start.
  2. The first of the year brings people who’ve just resolved to get involved in a church.  A very different motivation than the fall.  They’re not new to the area.  Just to the idea of attending.  That motivation provides an opportunity to choose a study that appeals to people who are new to your church.
  3. At least some of the new groups from your fall church-wide campaign did not survive the holidays, It is fairly common for a number of people who were part of a group in the fall (and loved finally being connected) to find themselves unconnected again. Establishing the mindset that sometimes it takes more than one try to connect with a group that really clicks will encourage unconnected people to try again.
  4. The first of the year presents an excellent opportunity to focus your congregation on your vision and mission. Many churches select a theme for the year and then choose a church-wide campaign or stand-alone study that will help get everyone on the same page.
  5. Not everyone is ready to respond to an invitation to join a small group. Some unconnected people are resistant to that invitation but very open to a lesser (or different) commitment. An on-campus “class” on the right topic present an easier first step out of the auditorium. Improving your marriage (Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage) or learning about relationships (The New Rules for Love, Sex and Dating) are just two examples.

My Newest Mini-Course: How to Jumpstart January: Plan, Launch and Sustain More Groups Than Ever Before

If you need help planning and launching a wave of new groups in January/February, please take a look at my newest mini-course:

How to Jumpstart January: Plan, Launch and Sustain More Groups Than Ever Before

Don’t let this key season slip by without taking advantage of the opportunity! Take a hard look at my newest mini-course! Whether you can participate live or you need to take in the sessions on your schedule…it will definitely be worth every penny!

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Jumpstart January: Plan, Launch and Sustain More Groups Than Ever Before

how-to-jump-start-january-2Jumpstart January: Plan, Launch and Sustain More Groups Than Ever Before

Late January/early February is one of the very best times to launch a wave of new groups and connect lots of unconnected people. Second only to late September/early October, late January/early February is a very big opportunity.

When you plan effectively and execute the plan skillfully, you have the potential to launch and sustain a lot of new groups.

Do you need to launch more groups and connect more people in 2017? Would you like to learn the best way to do it? Want to set in motion the strategy that will start the new year the right way?

Join Me for How to Jump-Start January

I’ve packed everything you need to know in my new three session mini-course, How to Jumpstart January: Plan, Launch and Sustain More Groups than Ever Before.

Here’s what you’ll gain:

  • A crystal clear understanding of exactly how to design the timeline for maximum impact
  • A calculated strategy to reach deeply into the congregation, crowd and community
  • A new understanding of how to choose a study that will appeal to unconnected people
  • A time-tested strategy to recruit the coaches you need to sustain 60 to 70% of your new groups
  • Before we even begin I’ll send you my “What to do right now” checklist

What’s Included:

  1. Three 75 minute sessions (60 minutes of content + 15 minutes Q&A)
  2. Downloadable outlines (allowing you to capture every detail)
  3. My “What to do right now” checklist
  4. Each session is packed with actionable takeaways
  5. All sessions are downloadable to share with your team
  6. Access to a password-protected site with additional supporting resources.
  7. 100% money back guarantee.  If you’re not completely satisfied…I’ll refund your money.
  8. Add a diagnostic coaching call at a special reduced rate (My regular price for a 60 minute call is $125)
  9. Questions?  Email Me for information.

When, Where and Other Details:

  • The first session is on Tuesday, November 29th at 11:00 a.m. pacific.
  • Sessions 2 and 3 are on December 6th at 11:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. (Pacific)
  • Regular pricing: $49.95
  • Add a diagnostic coaching call at a special reduced rate (My regular price for a 60 minute call is $125)
  • Questions?  Email Me for information.

Are you ready? I’d love to teach you how to plan, launch and sustain more groups than ever before in January.

You can do it. Your senior pastor will be glad you learned how…and so will your church!


Registration Options (pulldown)



Click here to register (if you don’t see the registration form)

Who’s coaching you? Anyone?

whos-coaching-youWho’s coaching you? Anyone?

Who’s coaching you?

Now before you even think about that, take a moment and think about the following:


You realized a long time ago that whatever you want to happen in the lives of small group members has to happen in the lives of their leaders first.

It was one of those things that was just self-evident. Right?

So you started working hard to build an effective coaching structure (so your coaches will be able to do TO and FOR your small group leaders the things you want your leaders to do TO and FOR their members).

And now that you’ve got that going, you are able to begin investing in your coaches. Doing TO and FOR them the things that you want them to do TO and FOR the leaders they are developing.

And that begs a question.

Can you see it?

Yep! Who’s coaching you? Who’s developing you? Anyone?

Doesn’t it stand to reason that whatever you want to happen in the lives of the members of your small groups might ultimately have something to do with your own growth?

If you can see that, I want to invite you to consider joining my 2017 small group ministry coaching network.

Now, you might be thinking, “Well, Mark’s kind of already coaching me. He’s just coaching me via his blog!” And if my blog is helping you…I’m really glad. But…I’d still say you’re missing a key ingredient of coaching. You’re missing the two-way conversation. You’re missing the feedback!

Alternatively, you might be thinking, “Well, I’m getting some good feedback from the other small group pastors in my huddle.” And if you are part of a huddle or you’ve got some knowledgable small group ministry compadres, I’m really glad. But…I’d still say you’re probably missing a key ingredient of coaching! Depending on who is in your huddle, I might just bring something to your table that only someone with my experience can bring.

Honestly, I don’t really know what you’re thinking! I just know how often I hear from previous coaching network participants telling me how valuable the experience was and how much of a difference it made in their most recent church-wide campaign or how their coaching structure is finally effective and healthy!

Super Early Bird Registration closes October 31st!

Bottom line? I really wish you’d consider joining my 2017 small group ministry coaching network! And join the network before the super early bird registration closes on 10/31!

And, I want you to remember that the super early bird gets more than the worm! The super early birds also get the best prices! And, if that weren’t enough, this year the super early bird also gets the added bonus of attending GroupLife Southwest as part of your package!


Here’s the scoop about my 2017 coaching network:

My 2017 Small Group Ministry Coaching Network experience is designed to give you the tools and strategies you need in order to build a small group ministry that works in the 21st century. The coaching network program will expose you to a new perspective. While it makes sense that in order to get different results you need to do different things…it’s not always clear what those different things might be. My coaching network program is designed around the idea that different, not better, leads to the kind of strategy that connects beyond the usual suspects.

Who will be part of the network? Each of my networks are limited to 15 participants and are designed for small group champions who serve in a local church. Because of the nature of the role, champions may be senior pastors, executive pastors, small group pastors and directors, ministers of education, and other key leaders.

What will you receive?

  • Five monthly coaching sessions. Anchored by a 90 minute video conference call, these group session provides focused exposure to the strategies that will build a more powerful platform.  Sessions are scheduled at 11am Pacific on January 19th, February 16th, April 20th, May 18th, and June 15th).
  • Two day gathering in Las Vegas. March 29th: 1pm-5pm followed by dinner | March 30th: 8am-12pm
  • Bonus: Registration for GroupLife Southwest is included (my small group conference here in Las Vegas is March 27th and 28th)
  • Focused training on key strategic steps including planning with the end in mind, developing an annual grouplife calendar, identifying an unlimited number of new leaders, launching new groups in waves, and impacting your community through groups.
  • Tools, strategies and next steps to be implemented after every session.
  • Access to special password protected network pages with customized content for each session.
  • Scheduled 60 minute one-on-one calls to address questions more specifically, bring team members into the conversation, or help equip your senior pastor or other key staff members.
  • The opportunity to connect with other network participants between sessions
  • Email access to Mark during the six months

What are the expectations?

  • Participate in all six sessions
  • Invest as little as $1050* (*super early bird pricing thru 10/31/15, early bird pricing of $1150 from 11/1-11/30, $1250 after 11/30/15)
  • Cover your own travel expenses to the two day gathering
  • Commit to the reading and exercises between sessions

What’s next? Complete the Coaching Network Application. My 2017 Coaching Network begins on January 19th, 2017. Questions? Contact me.

Can I help you? It’s actually why I do this!

Can I help you? It’s actually why I do this!

mark_howell-headshotI created my first conference in 1996 (or maybe it was ’97). It was a children’s ministry conference (think about that!)

I invited Sue Miller to bring some of her Promiseland team to the Houston area. I got ahold of a mailing list of Willow Creek Association churches and other like-minded churches in the region and promoted it to them. It was before Willow Creek or anyone like that began holding conferences away from their own place.

The conference was great! We did it two years in a row. It was well attended.

I remember at the conference the second year someone asked me why I had organized it. Off the cuff I said, “Because I can.” What I really meant was, “It seemed like a way I could help children’s ministry leaders.”

Can I help you? It’s actually why I do this!

There are several ways I might be able to help you (beyond my blog).

GroupLife Southwest – 2017

I’m hosting a small group ministry conference March 27-28, 2017. I’m excited about it. I’ve lined up a great speaker list and am planning some experiences that I think will really help small group ministry point people build thriving small group ministries in 21st century North America. You can find out about it right here (and p.s., the Super Early Bird Pricing ends tomorrow).

My 2017 Coaching Network

I’ve just opened registration and started taking applications for my 2017 small group ministry coaching network. There are 12 to 15 spots. I love the interaction. It really is a highlight for me and has been every year since 2008. This year early signups include a registration for GroupLife Southwest – 2017. You can find out about my 2017 coaching network right here.

Coaching and Consulting

Every year I work directly with 10 to 20 churches. I actually do an onsite consultation at a few and provide telephone (Skype or FaceTime) at most, You can find out about setting up coaching or consulting right here.  You can also find out about what people are saying about my coaching and consulting right here and see a partial list of who has used my services right here.

Downloadable Mini-Courses

I’ve videoed many of my most popular workshops and made them available as downloadable resources. This is an increasingly popular option as it’s less expensive and convenient. You can see all my current offerings right here.

New to Small Group Ministry Course

I’m always experimenting with something and right now I’m testing a series of emails designed to coach new small group champions step by step through a process. You can find out about that right here.

Will You Take Advantage of This Price for GroupLife Southwest?

glsw-squareWill You Take Advantage of THIS Price for GroupLife Southwest?

I hope you’re planning to join us for GroupLife Southwest! And I really hope you’ll take advantage of the Extra Super Early Bird Price of $99.95 (the Extra Super Early Bird Price ends on the 15th…and that’s Saturday!).

But why should you join us at the GroupLife Southwest conference?

That is a great question! Here’s why you should join us in Las Vegas next March for this conference:

  1. You read my blog for a reason! I know that may sound like a weird thing to say right off, but isn’t it true? If you weren’t learning the things you need to know, you would have stopped reading here a long time ago! Right? And I organized the conference!
  2. I’ve invited a powerful lineup of trusted small group ministry experts and leading practitioners to offer timely breakouts on the topics that you need to know about and will benefit greatly from!
    • Bill Willits from North Point. Bill has been at North Point since their beginning and has been the point person for the small group ministry that has connected over 72,000! His insights alone will be worth the price of the conference.
    • Tim Cooper from North Point. You may not know Tim, but I can tell you his breakout at re:group 2016, Community for Everyone, was truly inspiring and incredibly challenging. I personally came away from his breakouts with a number of game-changing insights.
    • Chris Surratt from LifeWay. You probably recognize Chris’s name, but you may not remember his role as the Small Group Pastor for Cross Point Church (and prior to that Seacoast Community Church) and the author of Small Groups for the Rest of Us (packed with the great insights that only come from a seasoned practitioner accustomed to figuring out how to connect the people you aren’t already connecting and actually make disciples).
    • Dave Enns from North Coast. Again, you may not recognize Dave’s name, but you probably recognize North Coast Church. Well known for their sticky church small group strategy and philosophy, they have consistently connected over 80% of their weekend adult worship attendance in small groups. And they’ve been doing it for years while they’ve become one of the largest churches in the country.
    • Hugh Halter from Forge America. Hugh is not a household name…unless you want to connect unchurched friends, neighbors, co-workers and family. I’ve heard him a number of times at conferences like Exponential. His latest book Happy Hour is packed with insights. When I was assembling the lineup, he was the first person I contacted. If you want to be effective in the 21st century, you need to be paying attention to Hugh.
    • Todd Engstrom from Austin Stone. Several years ago The Austin Stone Community Church began a transition from an ordinary, business-as-usual small group ministry (that primarily existed for insiders) to a missional community strategy, intent on becoming a force that would impact Austin. Their journey is a great story and their transition is full of lessons learned.
    • Me. In addition to hosting the conference, I’m planning to present two breakouts that I think you’ll find very helpful. In addition, I’m cooking up a special breakout for Monday night that will be a live demonstration of how a small group connection works.
  3. Hang out with hundreds of small group practitioners! I learn more from the people I meet during the breaks at conferences every time I go. I’m doing a couple special things to help you do the same.
  4. Las Vegas in March! Trust me, March is one of the best times to come to Vegas. The weather is beautiful…and it’s not beautiful almost everywhere else.

Do you know what’s timeless and what’s timely? Learn the principles and practices that are making grouplife work in the 21st century.

The Extra Super Early Bird price ends on the 15th

The Extra Super Early Bird price ends on the 15th and jumps up $124.95 per person. Why not take advantage of $99.95? And maybe even bring another team member or two? You can buy your tickets right here.

 

You can find out more at GroupLifeSouthwest.com.

Listen, I’d love it if you’d join us. Don’t miss a great conference!

Still Time to Catch the Extra Super Early Bird Price for GroupLife Southwest

glsw-squareI hope you’re planning to join us for GroupLife Southwest! And I really hope you’ll take advantage of the Extra Super Early Bird Price ($99.95 until October 15th)!

A powerful lineup of trusted small group ministry experts and leading practitioners (Bill Willits and Tim Cooper from North Point, Chris Surratt from LifeWay, Dave Enns from North Coast, Hugh Halter from Forge America, Todd Engstrom from Austin Stone, me, and more).

Do you know what’s timeless and what’s timely? Learn the principles and practices that are making grouplife work in the 21st century.

Hang out with hundreds of small group ministry practitioners.

Las Vegas in March!

Find out more at GroupLifeSouthwest.com.

You’re Invited! Join My 2017 Coaching Network!

2017-coaching-network-finalMy 2017 Small Group Ministry Coaching Network experience is designed to give you the tools and strategies you need in order to build a small group ministry that works in the 21st century. The coaching network program will expose you to a new perspective. While it makes sense that in order to get different results you need to do different things…it’s not always clear what those different things might be. My coaching network program is designed around the idea that different, not better, leads to the kind of strategy that connects beyond the usual suspects.

Who will be part of the network? Each of my networks are limited to 15 participants and are designed for small group champions who serve in a local church. Because of the nature of the role, champions may be senior pastors, executive pastors, small group pastors and directors, ministers of education, and other key leaders.

What will you receive?

  • Five monthly coaching sessions. Anchored by a 90 minute video conference call, these group session provides focused exposure to the strategies that will build a more powerful platform.  Sessions are scheduled at 11am Pacific on January 19th, February 16th, April 20th, May 18th, and June 15th).
  • Two day gathering in Las Vegas. March 29th: 1pm-5pm followed by dinner | March 30th: 8am-12pm
  • Bonus: Registration for GroupLife Southwest is included (my small group conference here in Las Vegas is March 27th and 28th)
  • Focused training on key strategic steps including planning with the end in mind, developing an annual grouplife calendar, identifying an unlimited number of new leaders, launching new groups in waves, and impacting your community through groups.
  • Tools, strategies and next steps to be implemented after every session.
  • Access to special password protected network pages with customized content for each session.
  • Scheduled 60 minute one-on-one calls to address questions more specifically, bring team members into the conversation, or help equip your senior pastor or other key staff members.
  • The opportunity to connect with other network participants between sessions
  • Email access to Mark during the six months

What are the expectations?

  • Participate in all six sessions
  • Invest as little as $1050* (*super early bird pricing thru 10/31/15, early bird pricing of $1150 from 11/1-11/30, $1250 after 11/30/15)
  • Cover your own travel expenses to the two day gathering
  • Commit to the reading and exercises between sessions

What’s next? Complete the Coaching Network Application. My 2017 Coaching Network begins on January 19th, 2017. Questions? Contact me.

5 Reasons I Launched GroupLife Southwest: a New Small Group Ministry Conference

grouplife-southwest-800px

5 Reasons I Launched GroupLife Southwest

I get a lot of questions. I’ve had a lot over the last few weeks as I’ve moved closer to launching GroupLife Southwest 2017.

“Why are you launching a new small group ministry conference?”

“Do we really need another small group ministry conference?”

“Shouldn’t you just stream the conference? Why host a live venue?”

Good questions. And these are just a few. There have definitely been others.

Here are the 5 main reasons:

  1. To give you live access to some of the most important small group ministry ideas. Reading about small group ministry is one thing. Interacting with leading practitioners and trusted experts is another thing.
  2. To expose you to the systems, models and strategies designed for the 21st century. If you’re paying attention to the culture, it is an inescapable reality that every step into the 21st century takes us farther away from the way things were when many of the most common small group ministry practices were developed. Connecting people and making disciples in the 21st century will require new insights.
  3. To provide a west coast gathering for small group ministry practitioners. When I’ve written about conferences I’ve been to in other parts of the country, I’ve routinely heard from readers who’ve wished for a closer option.
  4. To provide an additional conference at a time when there are limited options. It just seems like there were more options not that long ago. At the moment, there are only two main options (Saddleback’s The Lobby and North Point’s re:group). Both are excellent. GroupLife Southwest will add an important additional option.
  5. To provide a conference that curates a diverse collection of systems, models and strategies, The speakers you’ll hear are representatives of a variety of effective systems, models and strategies. Exposure to their thinking will help you identify and develop the best approach for your church and your community.

Bottom line? I really hope you’ll join us for GroupLife Southwest 2017! I don’t want you to miss it. And I’d love to meet you!  Here’s a link to the conference website for more information.

GroupLife Southwest 2017 Launches TODAY!

grouplife-southwest-eventbrite-banner-2It’s official! I launched the website for GroupLife Southwest 2017 this morning!

It’s been on my mind for a number of years to hold a small group ministry conference here in Las Vegas. And it finally happens  March 27-28, 2017 (just about the perfect time to come to Vegas. Warm here. Not so much elsewhere ;-))

We’ve invited a fantastic lineup of speakers (Bill Willits and Tim Cooper from North Point, Chris Surratt from LifeWay, Dave Enns from North Coast, Todd Engstrom from Austin Stone, and Hugh Halter from Forge America. And me!).

And one other small detail. For the first 30 days I’m offering an extra super early bird price. I think you’ll like it.

You can find out everything you need to know about GroupLife Southwest 2017 right here.

Today Only! These Mini-Courses Are 25% Off

Happy Labor Day Sale!

Sorry! Times up! You can find out about my regularly priced mini-courses right here:

  • How to Design, Build and Sustain a Thriving Small Group Ministry launches this Thursday and is my newest 4 session mini-course that will take you through what I believe are four essential steps.  This course is based on my most requested and most popular workshop, it draws more positive comments and rave reviews than anything else I talk about. (Full course description right here).
  • How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign: No other strategy for launching new groups is as powerful as the Church-Wide Campaign strategy. This mini-course will teach you how to recruit way more leaders than you ever thought possible, launch more groups than ever before, connectWAY beyond the usual suspects, and recruit and train the coaches you need in order to sustain the new groups you launch. (Full course description right here).
  • Building an Effective Coaching Structure is not easy…but you can do it. There is no substitute for doing it the right way. Conferences and seminars are great…but can be an expensive proposition when you’re talking about sending a team. Why not take advantage of step-by-step training from the comfort of your home or office? (Full course description right here).
  • Basic Training for New Small Group Coaches is a follow-up course to Building an Effective Coaching Structure (BECS). Where BECS teaches you how to identify, recruit and deploy coaches, it doesn’t equip you to train the new coaches you recruit for their very first assignment. I designed Basic Training for New Small Group Coaches to be used two ways. You can take advantage of my trainings and teach them to your new coaches. OR, you can simply offer the link and password to your new coaches and allow me to train them! (Full course description right here).

 

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