After having the privilege of serving on staff at Saddleback with Rick Warren and helping to produce the Purpose Driven Life video curriculum, we developed the “40 Days of Purpose” church-wide campaign strategy – and the world as we knew it changed.
Today, churches want video solutions that can align with weekend sermon series and church-wide initiatives, they want high-quality print resources with study material and discussion questions, and they want all of it to fit the DNA and unique mission of their church in their community. So Lifetogether focuses on helping pastors and churches develop their own video-based curriculum. Here are a dozen strategies and campaign examples you could use at your church!
MISSION, VISION, VALUES SERIES
Every church has a spoken or unspoken mission, vision, and values. Sometimes these may be on the website or mentioned occasionally around the church, but most churches can grow in communicating these ideas more effectively. One of the most effective things Rick Warren used to do at Saddleback was deliver a mission, vision, and values series during the weekend services, and combining that with a conversational small group component allows it to really sink in to people’s heads and hearts.
Other pastors have also done this really effectively, like Greg and Josh Surratt at Seacoast Church. We were able to connect 10,000 people in groups there because the leadership team saw the value of producing a video curriculum that preceded the delivery of their major new initiatives. We captured testimonies from more than 30 staff members and 20 key volunteers along with teaching from both Greg and Josh and several other teaching team members. Some of their spouses participated in the teaching as well.
Another one was Harvest Church in Warner Robbins, Georgia with pastors Jim and Jennifer Cowart. The series was called “Living the Five” and the curriculum included hundreds of unique congregational photos from every major ministry representing the church’s five core values. The next one we did was for Heartland Church in Rockford, Illinois with Josh Peigh, Gene Appel, and Mike Breaux titled, “Why Am I Here?” This series also reviewed core values and was aligned with the weekend sermon series. It included testimonies from the congregation in a town hall production along with beautiful, full-color curriculum in a magazine style format featuring photos from their congregation.
MARRIAGE AND PARENTING SERIES
These are perennial favorite topics for weekend sermon series and also great for a small group campaign. These series create opportunities to include the spouse in the teaching, and the topics are applicable to a very broad audience and serve as a great way to involve new people and launch new groups. We have done several different series on themes of marriage, children, and family including one called “Family Matters” with Steve Poe and another one – coincidentally also called Family Matters – with Ken Foreman at Cathedral of Faith. Both churches are multi-site churches and it created an opportunity to get all of their campuses on the same page for the mid-week experience. We also were able to produce both of these series in a town hall setting where there were 50 or so church members listening to the senior pastor pastor teach in a very interactive conversational format.
Most churches don’t realize the opportunity to create a stewardship emphasis unless they’re involved in some kind of capital campaign. While a capital campaign can be a great time to do a church-wide small group project (more on this in a minute!), a more general stewardship series is a great way to increase the tithes and offerings of a church. We’ve done this with a variety of series that are wrapped around topics like time, talent, and treasure; the generosity principle; or “it all goes back in the box.” One of my favorites was “Crazy Generosity” by Dale Oquist from Peoples Church in Fresno. These series are a great way to start the new year and this one kicked off their year with a curriculum that got everybody more sensitive to the financial needs of the church.
NEW YEAR SERIES
Speaking of New Year’s, another great series to kick off the year is the Daniel Plan that we produced for Rick Warren. (My wife, Dee, is the director of the Daniel Plan.) Emphasizing the values of spiritual, physical, and emotional health is a great topic after the holidays. Another good option for the start of the year is a prayer series like the one that we did called “Grounded” for Jim and Jennifer Cowart. This kind of a series is a good topic that can be introduced to any congregation and it’s easy and effective to put your own spin on it with a focus on spiritual habits or spiritual disciplines.
Small group connection series are always home runs. We produced a series called “Doing Life Together” for Clay Peck and the team out at Grace Church in Colorado. That began initially as a campaign to connect people with an alignment series and then became a timeless resource so people could launch groups 52 weeks a year. Another great idea is a small group leader training initiative. This is an excellent opportunity to get everybody on the same page including your volunteer leadership. One of the most affective campaigns that we did was a volunteer campaign where we captured leadership training footage with all the teaching pastors from Bayside church and a roomful of all their senior staff and key volunteers. One day we laid down 15 unique sessions they are delivering as online training for all of their new and existing volunteers. It’s one of the most comprehensive series we’ve done for a church and they are using it to get everybody on the same page and be trained with the same content in a uniform fashion.
ANNUAL CHURCH-WIDE CAMPAIGN SERIES
Forty Days of Purpose served as the benchmark for all church-wide campaigns, and since that time we’ve produced hundreds of sermon alignment campaigns with curriculum for local churches. A great example of one we recently did was for Tommy and Luke Barnett and the team at Phoenix First in Phoenix, Arizona. The series we did matched the lifetime vision of Tommy, Luke, and Matthew Barnett; it was called “The Dream Centered Life.” That had the most spectacular full-color curriculum spread that was very creative and unique in its artwork and design. In addition, we were able to work with Luke to help him get a publishing contract based off the book title, which is a very common thing.
In fact, you can do one of these annual campaigns based off a book a pastor has already written, or you can even do it based on one he wants to write. We also work with pastors to help them ghostwrite a book based on a sermon series, life verse or key message that they’ve always wanted to go deeper with. These are great candidates for your first major church-wide campaign.
OUTREACH OR MISSIONS CAMPAIGN SERIES
Most churches understand the value of trying to have people share their faith on a regular basis, but they’ll typically do a sermon series about this that doesn’t get their people talking or practicing how to do this in practical ways. The result of a series like this aligned with a weekend sermon series can be very successful. One of our favorite recent examples is Bayside Church up in Sacramento, California; they did a series called “VIP,” which stands for very important parties. It was just a brief four-week series for the entire church that focused on how to share faith in a natural way. Another favorite is called “Life on Mission” published by Tim Harlow and his team at Parkview Church in Illinois. This series engaged over 100 pastors of large churches that helped provide “cameos” on the video teaching and contributed to the series. The important thing with this is the possibility of engaging more than just the senior pastor and incorporating other members on the team and even members and new attenders. Including their testimonies or insights on the videos can be a great way to reinforce the idea of discipleship, sharing your faith, and reaching beyond your campus.
SPIRITUAL FORMATION SERIES
Most churches have a heart and a passion for discipleship but are not always able to take it from the theory or the theology to a practical reality. Producing a single discipleship series that aligns with a weekend sermon can be one of the most powerful things you can do to take your people deeper in their walk with God and help them grow spiritually. You have to take the equipping or the inspiration from the weekend and take it to conversation to get the greatest transformation out of the lives of the people in your church. Several examples of this include Jeff Greenway at Reynoldsburg United Methodist church who did a series called “Habits” that was one of the best ones we’ve done both in terms of the content and in terms of the design and layout of the series. It was a beautiful project. The other one was a strategy that is becoming more popular and is not a single volume but a multiple volume series. One of them was titled “The One Year of Transformation,” and this one was produced by Atonement Lutheran church with Don Wink in South Barrington, Illinois. They produced a three-volume discipleship series that aligned with three major sermon series over the course of the year. The results were powerful and for the Lutheran church were revolutionary in both connection and discipleship.
Another example is Charlie Holt at Saint Stevens church in Florida that developed a three-volume series called “The Resurrection Life,” followed by “A Spirit Filled Life” and finishing with “The Crucified Life.” These three volumes made up a one-year journey through the life of Christ. It was a very powerful series and one that is now being offered to many other churches. The concept of developing a multi-volume discipleship series is a very popular thing. The other one we did was called “The White Board Bible” with four volumes produced by Alan Jackson out of Murphysboro, Illinois. This series sought to introduce people to reading the Bible daily and going through the Bible annually as an entire congregation. Once again, this was a great way to develop a spiritual formation process in the church while having the curriculum as a timeless tool forever.
APOLOGETICS OR SEEKER SERIES
Many churches offer this type of weekend sermon series but developing companion video curriculum gets the “one-two punch” of leveraging the weekend experience with a mid-week experience. My favorite series on this one is “Elephant Issues,” produced for Peoples Church with Dale Oquist in Fresno, California. Dale tackled some of the most challenging topics in our faith today with great teaching and we produced a very dramatic and beautiful full-color print study guide as well as a number of video testimonies.
SENIOR PASTOR’S BOOK
As mentioned previously, many times the senior pastors we work with have either written a book or hope to write a book someday. Doing curriculum and campaigns around a trade book the senior pastor has or wants to write is a very strategic thing both for the pastor and the church. It typically represents a topic the senior pastor has a great passion for, and these tend to be good factors when discerning which curriculum and campaign you’re going to develop. A favorite example of this for me was Chris Hodges from Church of the Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama where we produced a curriculum for his very first book titled, “Fresh Air,” published by Tyndale House. We repurposed testimonies and created a compilation of story and teaching from Chris.
EASTER OR LENT SERIES
Most pastors don’t know that producing a church-wide campaign and video series is a great way to fill the house on Easter. One of the best examples of this was “40 Days of Easter” produced by First Methodist Mansfield in Texas with David Alexander. This series provided a traditional 40-day march leading straight up to Easter Sunday. Then we developed a sequel or a follow-up series that helped to sustain the new groups that were launched. We also did a series with Gene Appel at Eastside Christian Church in Anaheim called “Hope Rising,” which actually launched on Easter Sunday and helped to assimilate more than 100% of his adults in the weeks following.
CAPITAL CAMPAIGN SERIES
When I first started doing small group curriculum and church-wide campaigns we were asked by several churches to produce stewardship curriculum. After turning down this option for many years, I finally partnered with JD Greear and the team out at the Summit Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. Not long long after, we produced a series for Miles McPherson at the Rock Church with even better results — we were able to get over 800 people in small groups going through his capital campaign. It had raving success and helped to raise 73 million dollars. Just weeks after that, we partnered with Dr. David Jeremiah at Shadow Mountain Church and had an amazing response where he was able to raise his weekly tithes and offerings by almost $100,000 and secure the final commitments for a new education building. I’ve come to realize this kind of video campaign and church-wide series is one of the most effective things a church can do to maximize their capital campaign initiative.
If you’re interested in hearing more, contact us today!