Help! We Had a Successful Small Group Campaign… Now What?

By Mark Howell

Photo by faith goble.

I get questions.  Some of them are just too good to keep to myself.  Here’s one from yesterday:

Hi Mark, I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and it’s been extremely helpful. In fact, because of your blog, this fall we went “open bar” and Saddleback style on our small group strategy and saw great results! We doubled our small group numbers with 50 new groups/leaders added! How do we keep the new groups going?

Here’s what I said: Can I tell you something?  I love what you’re doing!  How awesome is that!  Just think about how many unconnected people got an opportunity to connect.  That is so good!

Next, here are a few things you need to do right away:

Get a plan to help as many of your groups continue as possible: What you do right now determines how many of your newest groups will survive the holidays.  Lyman Coleman pointed out years ago that 6 weeks is short enough to prompt many to put a toe in the water.  What we learned at Lifetogether is that it’s also long enough for members to begin to feel connected.  But…if you want to cement the connection, you need to help new groups complete a second 6 week study.

I’ve written about this several times.  You’ll find specific tips in Help Your New Groups Survive the HolidaysFour Steps that Help Groups Survive the HolidaysSkill Training: Help Your Group Survive the Holidays, and Five Keys to Sustaining New Groups.

He also asked:

Should I follow up with another “open bar” campaign in January?What’s the right number of Campaigns in a year? I think 2 but have no idea.

Another great question!  Here’s what I said:

I like one church-wide campaign a year.  When you ask your existing leaders to drop what they’re doing to join you more than once a year, you better have a pretty good reason (like a capital campaign).

I’ve had good success building an annual small group strategy by scheduling a church-wide campaign in the fall and a small group connection in late January or early February.  I’ve also found that leveraging special days (like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day) adds additional connecting opportunities later in the spring.  You can get the feel for my strategies in How to Build an Annual GroupLife Calendar.

Mark Howell

Mark Howell is the founder of, committed to helping churches launch, build, and sustain healthy small group ministries. He's also the Pastor of Discipleship Communities at Canyon Ridge Christian Church.  Having served as small group pastor at Woodlands Church and Lake Avenue Church, Mark is a seasoned veteran with experience in both the contemporary and the traditional church. In addition, he served as a consultant with Lifetogether and as a host for the Purpose Driven Campaign Coaching programs. You can read Mark's blog at or follow him on twitter.