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My Latest Short Course: How to Maximize Your Church-Wide Campaign

How to Maximize YOURChurch-Wide CampaignIf you Google church wide campaign or church wide campaigns, you’ll find that 8 of the top 10 links are mine. You know why? It’s simple. I’ve been planning and running campaigns for over 15 years and in 7 different churches. And that’s not including the hundreds I’ve coached to do it over the years.

I’ve planned and run campaigns in many very different churches. Churches of all sizes, 20+ different denominations, contemporary and traditional and everything in between.

I’ve worked with all kinds of senior pastors.

I’ve worked with churches that have never done a campaign and are brand new to small group ministry.

I’ve worked with churches that have already done several campaigns and long histories of small group ministry.

Name a situation…I’ve probably coached a church like yours to plan and launch a game-changing church-wide campaign.

The Strategy I Use Works (and works BIG time)

What I coach churches to do works. I’ll coach you to:

  • Recruit way more leaders than you ever thought possible
  • Launch more groups than ever before
  • Connect WAY beyond the usual suspects
  • Recruit and train the coaches you need in order to sustain the new groups you launch

I can teach you my simple process. You will never look at campaigns the same way again.

You can learn to launch a powerful church-wide campaign.

You’re Invited!

I want to invite you to join me for my new 4 session short course:

How to Maximize a Church-Wide Campaign

Here’s what you’ll gain:

  • A crystal clear understanding of how to choose the perfect campaign
  • A calculated strategy to reach deeply into the congregation, crowd and community
  • A precision-timed campaign timeline designed to maximize the number of groups and members
  • A time-tested strategy to recruit the coaches you need to sustain 60 to 70% of your new groups after the campaign
  • Actionable strategies designed to produce both next steps and first steps for your whole congregation

What’s Included:

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

When, Where and Other Details:

  • The first session is on Thursday, April 14th at 11:00 a.m. pacific.
  • Sessions 2 thru 4 are on April 21st, 28th, and May 5th.
  • 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.

Still have questions? See if this helps: Frequently Asked Questions about How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.

Are you ready? I’d love to teach you how to maximize a powerful church-wide campaign.

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

Maximize Your Church-Wide Campaign

5 Tiny Language Tweaks that Make a Very Big Difference

tiny tweakSometimes the smallest adjustments can make the biggest difference. When our Lead Team debriefed the success of Transformed, our fall campaign, one of the observations was that I functioned as the “Transformed Nazi.” The person who said this was noting that I was carefully watching all of the language (sermon references, announcements, bulletin promotions, pre-service slide roll, website, emails, etc.). If anything, and I mean anything, was even slightly off-script I corrected it.

Example: At the 4:00 p.m. Saturday service on the very first weekend of our ramp up to Transformed, our service host (the person who makes the announcements) said, “If you’d like to start a group and invite a few of your friends…” I spoke with her immediately after the service to correct the language.

Here are a few tweaks that you dare not miss:

  • “Give us an hour, we’ll help you get connected.” Think about the significance of this line. “Give us an hour.” One hour. It’s a subtle difference, but a very big difference. If you’re currently saying, “Sign up today for our fall semester (and semester means 10 to 13 weeks),” can you see how this might be an advantage? If the people you’re trying to connect are hesitant to commit to anything long term, isn’t an hour an advantage over almost anything else?
  • “If you have a couple friends you’d like to do the study with…” Note two important details. First, there is no mention of a “group.” It’s only a “couple friends.” Second, there’s no mention of “leading.” It’s only “do the study with.” It’s still the HOST strategy, but this tweak takes it from 10 people to a couple friends and from leading to doing the study with them. Can you see it? Can you feel it from the point-of-view of the person who hears it?
  • “Feel like a face in the crowd? Test-drive a six-week group.” This is not a lifetime commitment. It’s not even a semester. It’s six weeks. What are we counting on? Once you break through a certain threshold, it’s easy to feel like a face in the crowd. Check your kids in. Slip into the auditorium. Leave during the prayer. Check your kids out. In the car and heading for lunch without talking to anyone. Anyone. “If you feel like a face in the crowd, would you test-drive a 6 week group?”
  • “Would you help us help a couple newbie group leaders get off to a great start?” Recruiting coaches? Never start with form. Always start with function. Never start with job description and lifetime appointment. Always start with “help us” and “10 to 13 weeks.” Do not miss this. It’s much easier to get someone into a job than to get them out of it. Pay attention to this nuance. Always test-drive potential candidates. When the dust clears, it’s easy to assess their fruitfulness and fulfillment.
  • “Open your home six times.” Note the difference between six weeks and six times. Language is enormous. People who are considering hosting a group are paying close attention to the length of commitment. If you want to maximize the response…zero in on the right verbiage. And then closely monitor every mention.

Listen. Are you listening? Put yourself in the position of the person who is kind of okay with just attending the weekend service. They don’t know anything different. They do NOT know anything different. If you learn to hear what they hear, your percentage connected can only increase.

Image by Worship Ministry

Further Reading:

Good Faith: Must Read from David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons

good faithSpent some time this week with Good Faith: Being a Christian When Society Thinks You’re Irrelevant and Extreme, a new book from David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. An encore for Kinnaman and Lyons, their 2007 collaboration unChristian was an eyeopening book that “presented the North American church with an ‘outsider’s view’ of itself and challenged individual Christian and church communities to seriously consider the critiques offered by young nonbelievers.”

The book’s title is an interesting play on words, contending that “faith, when it is done right, is good. It is good not only for the faithful but for non-believers as well. Lived well and practiced consistently, good faith may be the best hope for our neighbors and society as a whole.”

Research-based, the Barna Group “interviewed thousands of US adults and more than one thousand faith leaders, including Protestant pastors and Catholic priests, as well as Jewish, Muslim, Mormon and other clergy. The goal was to get an accurate lay of the cultural landscape, particularly of the places where communities of faith feel friction with their surrounding culture–and vice versa.”

The essence of Good Faith can be found in three questions:

  • “What does the future hold for people of faith when people perceive Christians as irrelevant and extreme?
  • In what ways can faith be a force for good in society?
  • How can people of faith contribute to a world that, more and more, believes religion is bad?”

Good Faith is delivered in three parts. Part One carefully illustrates the current and rapidly changing cultural landscape of North America. Part Two wrestles with how to live good faith and peers with new insight into many of the most challenging aspects of our fractured landscape (i.e., sex and sexuality, race, politics, and public life, morals and virtues, and many more). Finally, Part Three wraps up with a compelling look and vision for the Church and its future.

Like unChristian, my copy of Good Faith is heavily marked up, underlined, starred, and dog-eared. So much to absorb, it already begs a more careful second reading. I’ll definitely be challenging our staff and leadership team to dig into it as well.

While there were many sections that grabbed my attention and caused me nod my head in agreement or shake my head in sadness, this is a tremendously hopeful book. Like The Next Christians, Gabe Lyons’ 2010 book, a way forward is compellingly presented. For example, I can’t wait to begin to apply the principles delivered in Love, Believe, Live (an important chapter in Part Two).

If you have any interest in being salt and light in your neighborhood or workplace, Good Faith is a must read. Please don’t miss this one.

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.”

craig groeschel“To reach people no one else is reaching we must do things no one else is doing.” Craig Groeschel

How Often Do I Need to Offer Opportunities to Join a Group?

FAQI get questions…a lot of questions.

If I’ve been asked this once I’ve been asked a thousand times (or maybe more).

“How often do I need to offer opportunities to join a group?”

Can I give a little background. I’m usually asked this question in response to my assertion that starting new groups is the best way to connect unconnected people and that matchmaking (finding the existing group that best fits the needs of an unconnected person) is one of the 5 stupid things that small group pastors need to stop doing.

See how it gets there? I’ve just suggested that the best way to connect unconnected people is to start new groups and the obvious dot that begs connecting is how often can I really start new groups?”

Here’s how I answer it:

First, every church should have a well-designed first step out of the auditorium that runs on a regular basis year-round. The first-step should be designed to provide clear next steps like connecting to a small group, serving, and baptism. How often? It depends on a number of factors (size of your church, number and frequency of first time families, etc.). See also, How Would You Rate Your First Steps out of the Auditorium?

Second, develop an annual grouplife calendar. Think about the year and drop in strategies that will start new groups at the key times of the year. For example:

  • a church-wide campaign every fall
  • a small group connection in late January/early February
  • another small group connection after Easter in years with an early Easter
  • a women’s and men’s book club off of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day
  • a slate of base groups once or twice a year at other times

See also, How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar and Top 10 Ways to Launch New Groups.

Third, develop a method of helping unconnected people who just can’t wait (until the next opportunity) connect with existing groups that are open to new members. A high-tech solution would be a small group finder (like the one offered by ChurchTeams) or a low-tech solution like a handout with the contact information of the leaders of open groups. Either way, the only groups that should be included are those who are led by leaders who are in line with the direction you are going (connected to a coach, attending your leadership gatherings, updating their information, etc.).

Finally, get comfortable with the fact that it is okay to not offer the on-demand solution expected. Generally speaking, most unconnected people (whether they are brand new to your church or have been infrequent attenders for a long time) don’t know what they really need. If you have a well-designed plan they will respond quickly to the next step you offer.

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

Image by Dennis Skley

5 Subtle Differences between Thriving and Struggling Small Group Ministries


5 Subtle Differences between Thriving and Struggling Small Group Ministries

It turns out that whether you’re on the Apollo 13 heading for the moon or Amelia Earhart circumnavigating the globe…you only have to be slightly off course to miss your objective.

I’ve found that there is often only a slight difference between the priorities and objectives of churches with thriving and struggling small group ministries. I’ve also found that churches with struggling small group ministries are often quite adept at justifying or explaining away discrepancies in their priorities and objectives.

Subtle Differences between Thriving and Struggling Small Group Ministries

Struggling small group ministries…

  1. Pay too much attention to the needs and interests of existing small groups. Rather than satisfying the needs and interests of existing small groups (restocking them with new members, choosing curriculum based on their requests, etc.), thriving small group ministries are preoccupied with launching new groups. Their strategic focus is on connecting unconnected people in new groups. Instead of restocking existing groups with new members, a secondary focus is on training the group leaders of existing groups to fish for their own new members. See also, Critical Decision: Add Members To Existing Groups vs Start New Groups.
  2. Pay too little attention to the development needs of new small group leaders. Sustaining a high percentage of new groups is a hallmark of a thriving small group ministry. Connecting every new small group leader with a coach who skillfully and patiently develops a mentoring and discipling relationship with them is more than a nice extravagance. It is one of the two most important strategies that produce high sustainability (the other being providing a follow-up study that is similar-in-kind). See also, 5 Steps to Sustaining New Groups.
  3. Are often a discipleship option (but one of several options). The discipleship menu in churches with struggling small group ministries almost always is a cluttered mess. Struggling small group ministries often have a lack of clarity about the best next step (or reluctance to conclusively declare a winner). Thriving small group ministries are clear about the best next step and never blink when declaring a winner. They skillfully eliminate any lack of clarity in every communication (announcements, sermon, print, social media and web). See also, Small Group Ministry Roadblock #2: A Bloated Become and Belong Menu.
  4. Emphasize groups every year (and provide equal opportunity for emphasis to other ministries for the rest of the year). Struggling small group ministries often point to their annual emphasis and overlook the fact that their annual effort is the only emphasis all year long. Worse, their annual emphasis is often diluted with other competing promotions at the same time. On the other hand, churches with thriving small group ministries frequently highlight small group participation (often to the exclusion of other core ministry opportunities). Recognizing that other core ministry opportunities (serving and missions, to name two) can be delivered through group participation. See also, 5 No-Brainer Characteristics of Churches that Actually Connect Beyond 100%.
  5. Are often championed by senior pastors who proclaim groups are essential (for other people). Thriving small group ministries are championed by senior pastors who unabashedly proclaim life in community as an essential ingredient. Further, they regularly talk about their own group and their dependance on the support, accountability, care and comfort gained. Senior pastors in churches with struggling small group ministries often look for work-arounds or substitutes for their own involvement. See also, Note to Senior Pastors: Authentic Community Begins with You.

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

Image by Luigi Mengato

The End of Me: Another Great Study from Kyle Idleman and City on a Hill

end of meI had an opportunity to preview the newest Kyle Idleman study this week. Idleman is a teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church, one of the largest churches in the country with nearly 21,000 in attendance every weekend. He is also an author and presenter on several projects with City on a Hill Productions.

Idleman’s latest book, The End of Me: Where Real Life in the Upside Down Ways of Jesus Begins, examined Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount, and unpacking the many counter-intuitive truths, including: brokenness is the way to wholeness, mourning is the path to blessing, and emptiness is required in order to know true fullness.

For me, not many small group studies are as eagerly anticipated as anything new from Kyle Idleman and the crew at City on a Hill Productions. Idleman’s previous study, Not a Fan, challenged us to pick up our cross and die to ourself. The End of Me “explores the upside down paths that lead us to Jesus.”

Produced by City on a Hill, The End of Me is the latest in an growing catalog of some of the most compelling and artistically creative studies available. I’ve reviewed a number of earlier studies from City on a Hill and it’s not a stretch to say that the production values are always top notch, even remarkable. The End of Me is no exception (Not a Fan, H20, and The Easter Experience).

The End of Me is a four week DVD-driven study that features the personal testimonies of author and spoken word artist Jefferson Bethke, NBA star Landry Fields, founder and director of Scarlet Hope Rachelle Starr, and the former manager of Apple Records Ken Mansfield.

An easy to use leader’s guide provides the discussion questions designed to expand every participants understanding of the topic. In addition, each session includes a creative element designed to enhance the impact of the teaching. The End of Me also features a daily journal designed to provide additional reflection and encouragement for the participant, extending the teaching beyond the session itself.

The End of Me picks up right where Not a Fan left off. I found what I anticipated. This is a powerful study that will help many begin to follow the life-changing teaching of Jesus. I loved it 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 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.”

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

5 Things I Wish I Could Say to Your Senior Pastor

senior pastor

5 Things I Wish I Could Say to YOUR Senior Pastor

Are there conversations you hate to have? How about conversations you love to have?

I have to say, one of my favorite conversations is with senior pastors about the role they play in building a thriving small group ministry. I’m having it more and more often…because a growing number of senior pastors realize that life-change happens best in circles, not rows.

When I have the conversation, these are the 5 things I end up highlighting:

First, you need to know that you are the most important champion of small group ministry. If you want grouplife to happen, if you want to be a church OF groups, you must accept this role.  You might hope to delegate the role…but you can’t.  It’s not about humility.  It’s all about influence.

As I’ve said before, the senior pastor as champion leads to a church OF groups.  There is no better example of this principle than Rick Warren and Saddleback Church.  It is the real reason Saddleback connects so many in groups.

Second, you need to know that grouplife as a priority is caught…not taught.  In other words, no one is really too busy to make this commitment.  What’s vitally important at the member level is equally vital at your leadership level.  You cannot hope to truly connect beyond the usual suspects without your full engagement and participation.

At the same time, you should know that there is great flexibility and freedom on the makeup of the specific group of which you are a member.  I’ve seen numerous instances where senior pastors have been part of long-standing  closed groups with members specifically chosen for their trustworthiness and character.  I’ve also seen senior pastors build open groups right in their own neighborhoods.  The key is participation.

Third, you need to know that commitment to small group ministry is a year-round sport.  It is not three weeks in the fall and a mention in January.  It is week in, week out, full-on engagement.  It is one of the top 10 reasons Saddleback has connected beyond 130% in groups.  This is a huge challenge in a church with a cafeteria approach where every ministry expects their 15 minutes.  It is much more likely where there is a plated-meal approach.

Fourth, you need to know that small group ministry can be the delivery system for every other thing that must be done.  Want to build mission into the life of every believer?  The most productive path is to build mission engagement into every small group.  Want to build ministry participation into the life of every believer?  Build it into grouplife.

Fifth, you need to know that the optimum environment for life-change is a small group.  It’s not the weekend service.  As important as the weekend service is, with inspirational music and powerful messages, it is most like a defibrillator.  Only life-on-life can provide the ingredients of life-change.  Without a genuine conviction about the optimum environment, there cannot be the kind of emphasis that builds a church OF groups.

Those are the 5 things I wish I could say to your senior pastor.

Can I say something to you?

(Don’t miss this!)

The reason I have this conversation more and more often is that small group pastors are asking me to share with their senior pastor how Saddleback, North Point, Canyon Ridge (and other high profile churches) are able to build thriving small group ministries.

How does it happen? Usually, a senior pastor has already expressed a desire to have a thriving small group ministry. And usually, senior pastors who have expressed that desire are open to conversations that will help their church take giant steps in that direction.

Can I help you?

It’s easy, so easy to set up a coaching call as a first step. Want to take a shot? Just email me to get the ball rolling.

Image by Umbrella Shot

Win 2 FREE Registrations to re:group: North Point’s Groups Conference

We have a winner! The contest is closed.

regroupmarkhowell_site1Join Andy Stanley and the North Point Groups team for re:group, one of the very best small groups conferences I’ve ever attended!  May 2-3, 2016 at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

You’ll be inspired and equipped with the nuts and bolts of building a small group culture for adults.  And they’ll do it in typical North Point fashion with main sessions, numerous breakouts, time for interaction, a few surprises, their most recent learnings–and lots of fun.

I’ve got 2 FREE registrations to give away! It’s a $438 value!  (Technically…it’s worth much, much more.  I came away with several killer ideas both of the last three years.  You’ll do the same this year).

You must do TWO (2) things.  And you have to do BOTH to win.

  1. Use the comment section to tell me why you’d like to win.  Be sure and use your first and last name (that’s how I find your Facebook post).  You can comment right here.
  2. Tweet or Facebook the following line: “RT @MarkCHowell: Win 2 Free Registrations to re:group, a $428 value #regroup16 @regroupco“

The contest ends on Thursday, March 17th, at noon (PT).  Thanks for playing!

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