Your church-wide campaign can capture growth and bring lasting momentum.
I know it feels risky to have a church campaign.
You go to all the trouble to choose a campaign, get small group leaders on board, persuade your church members to buy the individual study guides.
And what if nothing happens.
I understand your concern. We’ve done some church-wide campaigns that disappointed.
But campaigns are worth the risk. Nearly all of our growth as a church has come when we do something out of the ordinary to reach our city.
We’re just wrapping up our fall campaign and we did something different this year that I’m going to start doing every time.
We had a church campaign…wait for it… celebration.
Rick Warren recommends it, but I wasn’t a fan until now. Let me tell you what it is, why it’s worth it, and how to do it.
What is a Church Campaign Celebration?
You probably know that a church campaign is a sermon series that combines:
- a topic that appeals to a common felt need
- small group studies that reinforce the weekly sermons
- individual study guides so people are reading and learning on their own.
The power of a campaign is that everyone in your church is focused on learning the same things. And the learning comes in multiple ways: weekend services, mid-week small groups, and daily readings.
We use campaigns to invite our city, multiply involvement in small groups, and challenge people in new ways. The church grows. The people grow. Everything gets better.
But here’s the problem: sometimes things taper back to where they were after the campaign is over. No bueno.
We did Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Purpose as our first campaign way back in 2003.
We made a big deal of it when we finished the campaign. We held a party. On a Sunday night. It felt like we were finished, so all our guests finished, too. They finished their small group. And they finished coming to church.
In spite of the attrition, though, I saw momentum and growth from the campaign, and I figured we could do better the next time.
Ever since then, I’ve been reluctant to celebrate the conclusions of campaigns. Maybe it’s better, I reasoned, to hope that if we segue quietly into another sermon series, newcomers won’t notice the campaign ended and they will keep coming to church.
Finally, this year I listened to Rick’s advice, took a risk, and planned a Campaign Celebration as the last week in the campaign. But, instead of a party at a different time, we did the celebration during church.
The results surprised me.
4 Benefits of a Church Campaign Celebration
1. Learning is reinforced.
The hillbilly preacher’s prescription for a good sermon is, “I tell ’em what I’m goin’ tell ’em. Then I tells it to ’em. Then I tell ’em what I just dun told ’em.”
It’s called the Rule of Tell ‘Em and it’s actually a great prescription for learning. People learn by repetition.
It works with children in school, when a speaker gives a speech, and in your sermon series.
All the repetition helps people know where to mentally hang what they are learning. When they remember what they know, they’ll act on it. And voilà! Life change.
2. A Celebration shows the life-change that happened during the campaign.
You’ll use that Celebration weekend to review the campaign lessons, but also to tell the stories of life-change that happened during the campaign.
We love to hear how people take risks and succeed, how they change and grow, and how God works in ways that surprise us.
My church members laughed, wiped away tears, hooted and clapped as people shared their stories at our campaign celebration two weeks ago.
People may not think their story is important or good enough to share. You can tell if it will bless and encourage people.
Let your church hear how God is working.
3. There is a collective sense of accomplishment and growth.
It went way beyond encouraging or entertaining them in our celebration service.
The church appreciated that God worked in peoples lives during the campaign. They were glad for their stories, but it was deeper than that.
I could see it happening from the stage.
They witnessed that God is on the move in our church. The church saw that people among us are following him wholeheartedly and seeing him work powerfully.
When you highlight how God has worked, how problems have been solved, and how people have grown, you’ll communicate the message that God is working and things are happening in your church.
It builds momentum. And momentum is really good for a church.
4. It sets the pace for moving forward.
If we hadn’t celebrated those stories at the end of the campaign, the congregation wouldn’t have known and owned it.
After other campaigns without a celebration, we all just moved on. Maybe better for it. Maybe a bigger church. But without recognizing and standing on it.
This time, now that we all see how people have grown and what God is doing, we are moving forward with confidence. We’re in full swing with newcomers, new groups, new ministries, and new initiatives. And everyone knows it.
We spent all six weeks during the campaign inviting friends. I expected an attendance drop afterwards. But last week (the week after the Celebration), attendance was up. People invited even more friends. Last week I received some of the most encouraging notes from newcomers ever.
Thank you, Rick Warren!
5 Strategies for a Church Campaign Celebration
Here’s how you can do a momentum-building campaign celebration in your church.
1. Set the dates for your next church campaign, including a week for the Celebration.
The best times are January, after Easter, and in the fall. Learn more about how to do a successful campaign here.
This year we had the launch week of the campaign, then 6 weeks of campaign sermons, small group lessons, and daily readings, and the campaign celebration the last weekend.
We started on the 1st of September and finished up on October 28th. In August we started talking about the campaign and joining a Life Group after Labor Day, when the kids were back in school and families were establishing their school-year schedule.
When you’re planning your church campaign, schedule the Campaign Celebration for the week after the campaign sermons are finished.
2. Collect stories of life-change during the campaign.
Knowing that I wanted to tell stories during the campaign celebration, I watched for stories throughout the campaign.
- I listened in my own small group.
- I listened when I had lunch with guys.
- And I asked for people to email me their stories of what God has done in their lives.
3. Prep your story-tellers.
When I hear a good story of how God has worked in someone’s life, I ask if they would be willing to share it… in church. Most people will be honored and say yes.
In the past we’ve asked them to write out what they want to say and read it so they won’t get off track and take too long.
This time, I trusted them to be articulate adults who could manage saying what they wanted to say.
I told them they we would spend three to five minutes together on stage, and these were the questions I would ask them:
- How long have you been at New Song?
- Tell us about your family.
- And tell us about what happened to you during the campaign.
I asked them all to come 15 minutes early and sit in the front row.
The first 15 minutes of my sermon time was spent reviewing what we’d all learned together. (The “Then I tell ’em what I just dun told ’em” part.) We jetted through the big ideas and scriptures of the six campaign sermons.
Then I introduced my story-tellers.
I brought a handheld mic with me on stage and handed it to each one of them after saying a few affirming words of introduction.
4. Tell the stories of life-change interview style.
During each interview, we just had fun together. They were all ease and did a great job.
I stood on the stage with them, asked them a question, and let them tell their story. I would jump in after a minute or two to clarify or get to the point if they needed help.
Then I affirmed with the congregation how glad we are for what God has done in their lives.
Then we do this thing where everyone in the congregation puts a hand forward as if they are laying a hand on the person while I prayed for them. This moment of prayer cements community. We are all pilgrims walking together.
5. Be strategic in the stories you highlight.
Two of our Celebration story-givers have decided to step up to start new ministries. I knew I would want them to have time on the stage at some point, so this was the perfect time to highlight them.
In one service, people were so excited about it, they were raising their hands to help while Jimmy was telling his story. Both of the new ministry leaders were surrounded by people wanting to join them in the lobby after the services.
Two of their new volunteers are seekers who just started coming to our church.
I couldn’t have hoped for more.
I also thought about gender and race when I planned who I would ask to share their story. And I intentionally showed a heart for evangelism and improving family relationships.
You may not have a lot of stories to choose from. No worries. Just give God glory with the stories you have, and let your church see how he is working.
Watch the Service Here
Now take a look at our Campaign Celebration to see what I’m talking about.
- Plan the dates for your next church campaign.
- Get help choosing which campaign here.
- Start watching for stories of how God is working and start sharing them with your congregation during weekend services.
- How to Know if a Church Campaign will Help your Church Grow
- The Definitive Guide to Launching a Church Campaign
- Grow your Church with a Church-wide Campaign
Start Here to learn more about the resources available for you at PastorMentor.