12 Tips for a Successful Campaign

By Steve Gladen

At Saddleback, we often we give out little reminders or mementos, such as key chains, so that when people see them, they will be reminded of how God moved. Help your people remember what God has done and celebrate the campaign they put so much time and energy into achieving.

10. Understand the Delivery System—Small Groups.

At Saddleback we have two delivery systems: weekend services and small groups (which comes from Acts 5:42). It is a two-punch system to help people not just learn, but also apply the Word of God. Our small groups are the delivery system of all the components of the campaign. Group life is not optional at Saddleback. It is vital.

We use a funnel to depict the strategy behind how we apply the five biblical purposes throughout the church:

  • The weekend service establishes the five biblical purposes through the preaching of the Word.
  • The CLASS system explains the five biblical purposes.
  • Small groups give people the opportunity to experience the five biblical purposes (they help you take information and turn it into transformation).
  • The life of an individual (a Purpose Driven Life) expresses the purposes.

For all of this to work, you need to have some kind of infrastructure in place. An infrastructure helps your new groups not go it alone. At Saddleback, we have Community Leaders who oversee new small groups. What they do is simple—check on the new groups regularly and offer encouragement and prayer. The DVD curriculum provides the material, but the Community Leader gives the moral support.

You also need a Leadership Development Pathway in place. Your small-group hosts/leaders need to know where you want them to go. If they continue to lead, what will be their journey and final destination? How will they be trained? Not providing clear direction is like asking someone to come over to your house and only giving them a city, not the address.

Also, give your groups a next step. Before you let a group get through a campaign, have them make a decision on what their next step will be. Will they continue to meet, or will they part ways? Around week four of the six-week campaign, we encourage groups to determine what their next study will be. We give them curriculum suggestions and encourage them to get the new material as soon as possible. Very often, just avoiding “down time” can make the difference in whether a group continues or not.

11. Give People an “Out” After the Campaign Is Finished.

That may sound odd, but chances are good that even those who drop out will eventually be back in a small group. In a campaign, you need to give people permission to stop their group.

Let me be clear: I want every new group to continue, and I want to give them every possible reason to stay together. But I don’t want them to feel guilty if their group doesn’t continue. Why? Because when they do what you have asked, you need to reward them and thank them, not pour on guilt for not continuing. I have learned when you give people permission to stop meeting at the end of the campaign, they will be there for the next campaign. And during the next campaign, they just might stay with that next group.

12. Budget to Remove Financial Obstacles.

When we run a campaign at Saddleback, we pay for everything. We provide the devotional reading books, memory key tags, prayer guides, small-group DVDs, and study guides to anyone who joins a small group. If people commit to a small group, we give them everything to make a spiritual impact on them—they just need to join. It’s a lot of money up front, but it brings huge dividends on the back side.

Invest in your church. It shows your people you not only care about them, but you are also willing to put your money where your heart is.

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.