12 Tips for a Successful Campaign

By Steve Gladen

Interestingly, we never changed the duties of a small-group leader, just the language. It was enough. All of the preconceived notions of what it takes to be a “leader” just fell away. If a Host continues with the group after the campaign, then we enter them into our Small Group Leadership Development Pathway. This pathway then provides them with the relationships and resources to nurture and build their leadership skills.

When Jesus recruit the disciples, it was simply “follow me”. Three years later it was “die for me”. Quite a gap from “follow me” to “Die for me”. Jesus had a process. Our Host strategy isn’t “light” or “not wanting to develop people”, but a starting point—“follow me”. We help a Host discovery that they really can be a leader. The problem I have noticed with many churches is they don’t recruit to “follow me” but Die for me”. Leaving many people out of the game.

5. Employ Various Avenues of Learning.

The Campaign Strategy takes a common theme and helps people learn that theme through different learning styles. People learn through listening to the weekend services. People learn through discussing topics in their small groups. People learn through doing hands-on projects. People learn through memorizing Scripture. And people learn through reading as they work through the campaign materials in their small groups and on their own.

6. Once a Year Is Enough.

I am a college football fan. As much as I love the college football season and hate to see it come to an end, there is something about the wait and anticipation of the next season. If college football was off for a month and then back on, it wouldn’t be as good from month to month. Players couldn’t prepare, and I just wouldn’t look forward to the coming of fall like I do now.

It’s the same way with campaigns. When you do too many campaigns in a year, two things happen: 1) The volunteers who pulled it off won’t be able to manage another campaign so soon, and 2) Your congregation won’t experience the anticipation of an upcoming event.

7. Provide a clear start and end date.

At Saddleback, our campaigns last 40 days. This is a short enough commitment that most people are willing to make it, but long enough to instill good habits. When you have a clear start and end date, it gives people an end in sight, which means they are more willing to come along for the ride.

8. Expect High Intensity for Staff, Volunteers, and Members.

The secret of a successful campaign is sustaining high intensity for 40 days and then backing off to allow staff and volunteers to recover. This recovery time also helps group members to process the experience. Give your small groups time to stabilize.

For a campaign to happen successfully, you must clear the calendar for the duration of that campaign. You need to stop programs and events that could be distracting. Sometimes “good” programs can stop “great” things from happening in a campaign.

Also, with a campaign comes the beginning of many new groups, which means that afterwards you will need time to assess where those groups are at. Some will continue and some will stop. But without the margin and infrastructure to check in on these groups, you will start a lot of groups and lose the same amount.

9. Remember to Celebrate!

Oftentimes churches are great at recruiting and getting things finished for a campaign, but terrible at celebrating a job well done. After the campaign, be sure to hold a celebration and express your gratitude for all of the hard work done by staff and volunteers. Take time to remember and celebrate God’s work. Share stories of success and gratitude.

When you don’t take the time to celebrate, you are increasing the possibility of burnout in your staff and volunteers. In the Bible we read of many instances when God had people stop and remember the miracles He accomplished. Why? Because He knew people would forget. When you celebrate, you etch God’s work on your people’s heart.

Steve Gladen

Steve Gladen is Pastor of Small Groups at Saddleback Church, which sees over 30,000 people gathering weekly in 5,000 small groups. He's the founder of SmallGroups.net and travels widely to speak on the topic of small groups and healthy, biblical community. He is the author of several books including Small Groups With Purpose and Leading Small Groups With Purpose.