Saddleback Changed the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again

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Don't miss this! If you're planning a church-wide campaign you must grab hold of this latest idea. I believe it is at the very heart of how Saddleback amassed over 8400 groups for their most recent campaign (Transformed: How God Changes Us). You read that right. 8400 groups.

Their idea was embedded in every message, every announcement, and every email. Here's an example from a Saddleback email sent just before the campaign began.  See if you can spot the idea:

"This weekend marks the beginning of Pastor Rick's highly anticipated new series, 50 Days of Transformation! Through small group study and the weekend series, you'll learn how real change—lasting change—can actually happen in your life. Sign up now to become a small group host. Hosting is easy! Grab two friends and your group is ready to go. Then join Pastor Rick this Friday, January 17 for a special gathering to celebrate the start of the series and pick up your group materials. Learn more at our website!"

Did you catch it? Grab two friends and your group is ready to go.

Grab two friends and your group is ready to go.

Could this simple tweak really have been at the heart of how Saddleback jumped to over 8400 groups? According to Steve Gladen, "there were many reasons, but starting groups organically was a huge part."

If you've been along for very much of this journey, you know that I've always suggested lowering the bar even lower on the last weekend or two before the launch of the campaign. It's always made perfect sense to broaden the definition of who could host a group at the last minute. That's what I was talking about in Add 5 to 10% More Hosts with This Jedi Move and Mass Hysteria at the Grab-and-Go Table.

The Key Idea: Go Organic from the Opening Bell!

Based on Saddleback's experiment and experience, I'm recommending you adopt the more organic approach and the language of "grab two friends and your group is ready to go."

Based on Saddleback's church-wide campaign experiment and experience, I'm recommending you adopt the more organic approach and the language of grab two friends and your group is ready to go. Share on X

You still need to follow the 10 Simple Steps that Lead to a Great Church-Wide Campaign. This is not a pass that eliminates planning or praying. But clearly, it is a different game when your campaign has the potential to enlist a wave of people who have two friends!

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

Image by Janita

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  1. Tony Cruz on August 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Hey Mark, awesome site. I can’t help but think that your advice to adopt this language or idea (grab two friends and start a group) seems to run counter to the advice you suggested just two posts earlier to hold out for high caliber leaders.

    I don’t want to put you in a spot but it seems to me that these are competing ideas. How do we navigate your two ideas? Or do we pick one? Thanks for the help!

  2. markchowell on August 1, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Thanks for jumping in Tony! No doubt you are not the only one to think that! Here’s the key: never settle for less than high capacity “leaders of leaders” (i.e., coaches). At the same time, the deeper into the crowd you can enlist leaders from, the farther into the community you will connect. Can you see it? It is the essence of connecting widely and deeply.


  3. Tony Cruz on August 1, 2014 at 10:09 pm

    Great clarification, Mark. I would definitely agree with that. I read too fast and missed that! Better slow down! Been working with small groups for a few years now and just found your site. Hope you don’t mind me poking around in order to learn! Thanks again!

  4. markchowell on August 2, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Keep coming back. And make sure you’re signed up to get my updates. The conversation keeps moving along.


  5. Crissy Carroll on August 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

    I love this! A woman at church was interested in HOSTing this weekend but said, “I just don’t know if anyone will show up”. I said, “well all you need is to find 2 other people who are interested in doing it with you and you have your group!” This is a woman who is normally very timid and she looked shocked at how easy that would be! She left our conversation looking excited about finding “just 2 other people”.

  6. markchowell on August 13, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I love it! Great job Crissy!


  7. Robby on April 28, 2015 at 7:39 am

    Is Rick leading saddleback to engage in discipleship groups of 3 to 5 people? Are they gender exclusive?
    Also, what will they do after the 50 days?

  8. Crystal on January 21, 2016 at 9:12 am

    What are the things to include in a grab and go kit? What things do you feel you need to let leaders of these organic small groups know before launching? What tips might they need?

  9. markchowell on January 21, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Hi Crystal…most of what you’re asking is in the articles I link to in the article.