Many of my most frequently asked questions probably find their origin in the phrase “church of groups.” Actually in a personal interpretation of the phrase “church of groups.”
You know how you can go about your life thinking that you know what a word or a phrase means and find out years later that you’ve been using the word or phrase incorrectly the whole time? For example, I have a friend that says, “that’s a mute point.” She means “moot” but has never quite caught that distinction. I have another friend who uses the word “antidote” to mean both “the substance you take to counteract a form of poison” and “a short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person (which is the definition of the word anecdote).”
Does it make a difference to use the word or phrase correctly? Yes. Maybe it’s not always a big deal. But it makes a difference.
What about understanding the difference between a church of groups and a church with groups? I think it makes a big difference.
First, a little history. The phrase comes from Building a Church of Small Groups, an important book by Bill Donahue and Russ Robinson, and essentially differentiates between the kind of church that has small groups as one of several menu items (that would be a church with groups) and the kind of church that does everything in the form of a group (that would be a church of groups).
In the introduction to Building a Church of Small Groups, Donahue and Robinson tell the story of “a bold declaration in 1992 to become a church where no one stands alone” and the effort to “intentionalize the practice of community to ensure that life-giving transformation was taking place.” The end result was that in the decade between 1992 and 2001, Willow Creek moved from a church with small groups–that is, small groups being one of their programs–to being a church of small groups. “Instead of ten to fifteen percent of the congregation connected into a small group, we have become a place where over 18,000 individuals are connected in 2,700 small groups (p. 14).”
With me so far? Church with and church of. I think that is clear to most. Don’t miss the motivation, though. To become a church where no one stands alone. That vision and an intentionalized strategy and effort is what produced the church of groups.
Here are a two ways that churches get caught in the trap of moving from church with to church of:
By the way, if you send someone to get the antidote for a rattlesnake bite and they come back with an amusing story from City Slickers about the guy who backed into a cactus and thought he’d been bitten on the behind by a rattlesnake, it will make a difference.
I am regularly asked for church-wide campaign ideas that are easy to pull off. Here are five of my current favorites that are easy to do and still very powerful. I’ve reviewed all of them and you can read my full review by clicking “keep reading.” And if you’re set to do a church-wide campaign, don’t miss my two part series, 10 Simple Steps to a Great Church-Wide Campaign.
Soul Detox: Every once in a while, a study comes along that just seems a perfect fit for the needs and interests of the culture. Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World, based on Craig Groeschel’s newest book, is one of those studies. With built elements of a church-wide campaign, this is a study that many churches will want to take a look at.
An engaging look at five of the most damaging issues in our culture, this is a very practical study. Keep Reading
Stolen: Looking for creative small group resources? You might want to take a look at Stolen, a new study from Chris and Kerry Shook. Taking its cue from John 10:10, Stolen takes a look at how the Enemy uses our circumstances to rob us of treasures like passion, joy, peace, strength, and dreams. Recognized as one of today’s most creative communicators, Woodlands Church Pastor Kerry Shook and his wife, Chris, will lead you into a discovery of the ways you can reclaim the treasures God intended for you.
A six session study, the DVD segments have a creative twist that sets up the discussion. Keep Reading
As we’ve talked about many times, the topic of your campaign determines the potential participant. Choose the right topic…you can get really broad participation. Choose the wrong topic, even one that you believe is an essential ingredient, and you’ll get only limited buy-in. In fact, choose the wrong topic and you’ll be tempted to mandate participation. And that is not the dream of a church-wide campaign, a church-wide spiritual growth emphasis.
If you’re looking for a topic that will appeal broadly, I’m not sure you’ll find a better match than the idea of relationships and that’s why I’ve eagerly anticipated the release of Love at Last Sight. Keep Reading
Gospel Revolution: Looking for a study that will take your groups deep into a better understanding of the gospel? You’ll want to take a look at Gospel Revolution: Recovering the Power of Christianity by J.D. Greear, the dynamic senior pastor of The Summit Church, one of the 20 fastest growing churches in the United States.
Based on Greear’s newest book, Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary, the teaching centers on the idea that “the gospel is not just the way we begin in Christ; it is also the way we grow in Christ.” Keep Reading
WEiRD: There’s a new DVD-driven study that you’re going to want to take a look at. New from Zondervan, WEIRD: Because Normal Isn’t Working is a great companion to Craig Groeschel’s popular book by the same name.
Inspired by Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:13-14 and the central idea that the “broad road leads to destruction” (normal) and the “narrow road” leads to life (weird), the study takes a look at a set of topics that will make sense to Christians and non-Christians alike (making WEIRD a very compelling option for a church-wide campaign).
This one will take a little more work than the other four, but it’s such a compelling example, I couldn’t not include it. A really good DVD and participant guide, you’ll have to visit the LifeChurch.tv site to retrieve the sermons and other creative elements. Keep Reading
Want more ideas? There are plenty more where these 5 came from. You’ll find an almost complete list in The Latest on Church-Wide Campaigns (2012).
(This is part two of this article. You’ll find Steps 1-5 in part one right here.) Preparing to launch a church-wide campaign? Or maybe wondering if you can still pull it off with the time you have remaining? While not easy…it might be simpler than you think. You’ll need to make some strategic decisions and depending on when you’re reading this, you may need to act decisively, but you can do it.
Ready to get started? Here are Steps 6-10:
What do you think? Have a question? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Preparing to launch a church-wide campaign? Or maybe wondering if you can still pull it off with the time you have remaining? While not easy…it might be simpler than you think. You’ll need to make some strategic decisions and depending on when you’re reading this, you may need to act decisively, but you can do it.
Ready to get started? Here are Steps 1-5:
P.S. I’ve written on this topic before, but never quite from this angle (see also How to Sequence a Small Group Launch and How to Develop a Timeline for Your Church-Wide Campaign).
Image by Lachlan Hardy
With apologies to Bill Donahue and the rest of the Willow Creek brain trust, here are the top 10 reasons that a small group isn’t really the optimal environment for life-change:
What do you think? Got one I missed? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Looking for new ideas for men’s ministry? You might want to take a look at 33 The Series: A Man and His Design. Building on many of the timeless truths taught by Robert Lewis in the original Men’s Fraternity study, this fresh new series includes new material on authentic manhood.
The design of 33 The Series make it easy to use in individual off campus men’s groups or as an on-campus men’s study. Although it can be used by individuals, there are several challenges in the first two sessions to “do this study with a team.”
DVD-Driven, each of the six sessions include approximately 30 minutes of teaching along with a variety of creative elements, interviews, documentaries, roundtable discussions and moving testimonies . The multi-generational and racially diverse teaching team makes this a very compelling series that will connect broadly. Presenters John Bryson (co-founding teaching pastor of Fellowship Memphis), Bryan Carter (senior pastor of Concord Church in Dallas, Texas) and Tierce Green (teaching pastor and executive pastor of small groups at Woodlands Church in Houston, Texas) provide inspirational and challenging teaching.
The Training Guide includes a note-taking section to be used while viewing the teaching segment, as well as a reflection and discussion guide that will direct the group experience. In addition, you’ll also find an engaging set of short between-session reading assignments on a series of topics that will capture and hold the attention of group members. Because of the way the questions are designed, no leader is required.
This is a study that’s designed to compel action. Every session drives toward a personally selected strategic next step and the series drives toward an action plan.
Along with the six session teaching DVD, an included group leader resources DVD provides helpful guidance in the format and plan of your study. The resources DVD also includes many of the creative elements as separate media files for those studies that prefer to deliver the teaching in a live format. In addition, you’ll find ideas for promotional materials and tools on the resources DVD.
Additional volumes of 33 are in development and will include topics on a man’s wounds, traps, parenting, marriage and career. You can register to be notified of future volumes and their release dates at 33theseries.com. You can find out everything you need to know about the series right here.
If you’re looking for new ideas for men’s ministry, you’re going to want to take a look at 33 The Series: A Man and His Design. I really like the feel of it, and I think you will too.
Did you miss a day or two? Here are my top 10 posts of June, 2012.
So much traffic happens in the archives that it’s very common to only have one or two posts from the current month break into the top 10. Since I’m currently tweeting and posting to Facebook a couple gems from the archives every day, if you’re not following me on Twitter or connected on Facebook…you’re missing out on an additional resource!
I love seeing where people were in the world when they checked out a page. This month, there were readers from 82 countries around the world and thanks to Google’s translation capabilities, it happened in 36 languages! Very cool!
What do you think? Have a post in mind that didn’t make the list? You can click here to jump into the conversation.
Based on Mark Batterson’s 2011 book by the same title, The Circle Maker: Praying Circles around Your Biggest Dreams and Greatest Fears is now available as a church-wide campaign and it is one you are definitely going to want to take a look at.
Guiding congregations to learn “how to claim God-given promises, pursue God-sized dreams and seize God-ordained opportunities,” this is a study that will change the prayer lives of your members. If your congregation could use some help in learning to pray, The Circle Maker is a church-wide campaign that you need to consider.
Along with sermon outlines, you’ll also find promotional materials, trailers, worship backgrounds, and other collateral pieces available at TheCircleMaker.com. This is what I call a really good plug-and-play right off-the-shelf church-wide experience. It’s ready to go. All you need to do is pick the right time to use it.
A four week DVD-Driven study, these are some of the very best segments I’ve ever reviewed. The pitch-perfect combination of well-chosen Bible stories, God stories from the miraculous beginnings of National Community Church (the church Batterson planted and leads in Washington D.C.), and several truly amazing stories from NCC members make every segment both powerful and memorable.
The Participant’s Guide includes everything needed for a great small group experience and between-session activities. The thoughtfully crafted ice-breaker, a place to take notes during the video segment, and a skillfully written Bible study will help your group members engage in the topic. The opportunities for personal reflection and personal actions will help keep them engaged between sessions. Written by Batterson (along with Kevin and Sherry Harney), this is a study that will take your members on a journey that will powerfully impact their prayer lives.
If you’re looking for a church-wide campaign that can deepen your congregation’s faith while helping strengthen their commitment to prayer, you’ll want to take a look at The Circle Maker. I really loved it and I think you will too.
Looking for help building a coaching structure for your small group ministry? You need to take a look at Coaching Life-Changing Small Group Leaders by Bill Donahue and Greg Bowman. Game changing when it was originally released in the early 90s, the expanded and updated version is out and it is the complete package.
I really like the design of this new version. Interspersed with stories that illustrate the concepts, there are also frequent built-in opportunities for reflection. Very readable, it’s easy to imagine this book as a manual for every coach in your system. Making it even more training friendly, Equipping Life-Changing Leaders (a companion DVD resource) includes four segments that introduce the four content sections.
The content is divided into four sections:
A simple but very helpful appendix includes some resources you’re going to end up using (I especially liked the “coaching hot potatoes” appendix).
If you’ve been struggling to build an effective coaching structure, you’ll want to pick up a copy of Coaching Life-Changing Small Group Leaders. It might even be the training manual you’ve been holding out for. I like this resource and I think you will too!