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

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januaryWhen you're preparing for a church-wide campaign, developing a timeline is one of the most important early steps. I was looking at an article I wrote in 2009 about how to develop a timeline...and I realized how much has changed! It's time to take another shot at it.

Here is the way I develop a timeline in 2016:

1. Start with the End in Mind

The very first step is to determine when your weekend message series will end. This is an important decision. For a fall campaign, I try to finish at least two weekends before Thanksgiving. This is ideal, since providing your newest groups with a study to do next is an important step in sustaining a high percentage of the groups you launch and finishing your campaign at least two weekends before Thanksgiving will allow your new groups to do at least the first session (or two) of the follow-up study before Thanksgiving.

With me? As I said, though, this is ideal and I can't always make it happen. Sometimes other factors get in the way.

Once you've chosen the end date, you can simply count forward the number of weeks in the series and determine when it will begin. For example, this year we are doing Finding Your Way Back to God. Although it is a 5 week series out of the box, we are adding an intro week, making it a 6 week series. We want our ending date to be October 30 which makes our beginning date the weekend of September 17-18.

2. Work Backwards from the End Date

The small group connection strategy is designed to form new groups to connect people who come to an event. See also, How I Lead a Small Group Connection.

If our series begins on September 17-18, we'll be holding a series of small group connections during the week before the series begins. This year we will hold connections on Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday. In our case, we've found it beneficial to offer more than one connection event (providing an additional time allows more people to attend a connection). In our case, we don't have available rooms large enough to hold everyone we need to connect, so we actually offer 5 different times. In your case, keep in mind that you need critical mass for the connection strategy to be effective. Don't offer so many times that it spreads attendees over too many nights.

3. Plan to Promote Your Connection(s) Over 2 to 3 Weekends

As I've said many times, unconnected people are almost always infrequent attenders. If you want to connect as many as possible, you need to promote your connection events over several weekends. I like to promote the connection event(s) three weekends in a row and hold it on the third weekend after the 11:00 a.m. service.

Since our small group connections take place during the week of September 11th, we'll be promoting them on 8/27-28, 9/3-4 and 9/10-11. Same script all three weekends in the sermon, announcements, preservice slides, bulletin, and website. We'll also send at least one church-wide email promoting the event.

4. If You Have a Couple Friends...

Another important strategy for connecting people is the latest iteration of the HOST strategy. I refer to it as the "if you have a couple friends" strategy and when used with the right campaign it can help connect a wave of people to people who simply invite them to do the study together. See also, Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game...Again.

Again, since people are attending church less frequently, it is important to mention this opportunity at least two or three weekends in a row.

We will begin inviting people to stop off at Groups Central and pick up a HOST kit on 8/6-7. and continue on 8/13-14 and 8/20-21. Same script all three weekends in the sermon, announcements, preservice slides, bulletin, and website. We'll also send at least one church-wide email promoting the strategy.

5. Recruiting Launch-Phase Coaches

Another of the most important ingredients in the attempt to sustain as many new groups as possible is providing coaches for every new group leader. Recruiting and training new "coaches" needs to begin in April, May and June. See also, How to Build an Effective Coaching Structure.

6. Bring Your Existing Group Leaders into the Loop

It's a good idea to keep your existing group leaders informed and bring them into the loop well in advance. We like to hold a Group Leader Briefing in between services in early June. These briefings are short and to the point and feature a brief appearance by our senior pastor who casts vision for the campaign and shows appreciation for our leaders. We typically will show a short clip from the video and provide a sample of the study guide.

7. Begin "Teasing" the Campaign

In late spring or early summer we begin "teasing" the campaign. Think about the way the next Batman movie is promoted. Long before a true movie trailer is produced, posters and seconds long video will be released during the previews in movie theaters everywhere. Batman Begins...coming Christmas 2016. Why not "tease" your campaign?

Need more help?

Consider taking a look at one of most popular mini-courses: How to Maximize YOUR Church-Wide Campaign.


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