When pastor Rick Warren released the book The Purpose Drive Life he also released a nearly unknown practice in church life, the church-wide campaign. A church wide campaign entails the following four things.:
- The entire church is focused on one theme or topic for a six to eight week period.
- Every small group is engaged in the same Bible study weekly.
- The senior pastor is preaching the weekly sermon based on the Bible study the groups are engaged in that week.
- Every church member is doing a daily devotion or reading built around the Bible study content they’re studying that week (Every church campaign doesn’t include these daily readings.).
There are five reasons a church-wide campaign is great for your groups ministry.
- The senior pastor has to promote the groups ministry. Many senior pastors are hesitant or unwilling to promote the small group ministry from the pulpit. Because groups are one of the most important aspects of a church-wide campaign the senior pastor must publicly proclaim their importance and ask people to be involved in one throughout the campaign.
- It elevates the importance of groups to the entire church body. Because the senior pastor is publicly promoting groups and because groups are the most important element of the campaign, the groups ministry gains major traction as a leading and essential component of church life.
- It gives those who have been hesitant to join a group a chance to try one out for a short period of time. Many people would join and ongoing group if they could just set aside their pre-conceived, negative notions of what takes place in a group. The best way for a person to see what really takes place in a group is for that person to try one out. Many people will consider being in a group for a short period of time and six weeks is just the right amount of time for them to experience group life and overcome their pre-conceived misunderstandings.
- It forces current small group leaders and group members to see beyond themselves. During a church-wide campaign all groups should be required to invite others into their group who are not currently in one. Groups that have become inwardly focused are forced to reach out beyond themselves and oftentimes will determine that welcoming new people into their group is not a negative thing, but a positive thing.
- It is one of the most effective and efficient ways to start new groups fast. Many small group point people are being asked to move from having 40% of weekend worship attenders in groups to having 80% to 90% in groups, and they are being asked to do this quickly. There is no better way to start new ongoing groups faster than by doing a church-wide campaign and then leading as many of the short-term groups as possible to become ongoing groups.