Pastor Dave Barr and his congregation at New Hope Windward Church in Hawaii managed to get their entire congregation of 900 into small groups for The Daniel Plan. The weekend attendance during the campaign exceeded the previous Easter and Christmas services and continues to grow.
The six-week study launched more than 100 groups that began a vibrant small group ministry. The Daniel Plan series was a huge attraction point in their community, as it was with the initial rally at Saddleback, as it focuses on a huge felt need but ultimately fulfills the deeper needs we all face.
The Daniel Plan was inspired through Pastor Rick Warren’s vision to provide a practical program for people to restore their health and ultimately prepare them to fulfill God’s purpose for their lives. During an afternoon where he baptized more than 800 people, he came to the conclusion that his congregation was overweight. He confessed that while he only gained three pounds per year while leading the church, he had been their pastor for 30 years and needed to improve his health as well.
“With diabetes at epic levels in the U.S. and one in three adults tipping the obesity scale, this is no longer an option but a mandate. We now have as many people in the world that are battling obesity as we have battling malnutrition,” Pastor Rick said — and those in the church are no exception.
Warren announced that The Daniel Plan would serve as the platform for the broader Decade of Destiny 10-year vision and enlisted three world-renowned doctors to help launch the 52-week program and create an unrivaled strategy for success: brain expert Dr. Daniel Amen, functional medicine pioneer Dr. Mark Hyman, and heart surgeon Dr. Mehmet Oz.
During the kickoff rally in January 2011, Warren and his team anticipated a few hundred would sign up but instead witnessed an unprecedented 6,000 people participate, with an additional 5,000 joining online. The program grew exponentially during the first year, with 190 countries participating and more than 15,000 participants releasing a combined 260,000 pounds.
Beyond the weight loss, the participants reported incredible side effects ranging from improved energy, better sleep, lowered cholesterol levels, and reduction of medications.
The program focuses on a few key elements:
Church-wide 40 Day Campaign: Whether it is a daytime Bible study or the entire church participating, doing this together is a key to success. We have a saying that every body needs a buddy, as lifestyle changes are best made within community.
DVD Small Group Study: This serves as a catalyst to get started, with teaching from Pastor Rick and practical “next steps” to move forward.
Calling in the Experts: Our three founding doctors and additional wellness experts provide ongoing online inspiration, instruction, and practical tips. The website has hundreds of articles, videos, recipes, and fitness tips.
Addresses the Whole Person: The Daniel Plan is based on five pillars of health: faith, food, fitness, friends, and focus.
Churches of all shapes and sizes and in every region of the country are introducing The Daniel Plan, many in their existing small groups and others with a church-wide launch.
The Daniel Plan has gained national recognition and has been featured in dozens of magazines, publications, and TV networks including ABC, CNN, USA Today, and Time magazine. Pastor Rick has the dream that God would use the local church to be a catalyst for improving health throughout the nation.
An updated version of The Daniel Plan DVD curriculum and church-wide campaign kit are due for release in January. Go to danielplan.com to sign up for our newsletter, where we offer practical tips and the latest health news to inspire and motivate you and your congregation on your journey to health.
Dee Eastman graduated with Bachelor of Science in Health Science, with a focus on prevention and long-term lifestyle change. As an experienced leader and wellness coach, she brings her health background and passion for transformation to direct the Daniel Plan at Saddleback Church.