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Spiritual Growth Campaigns Are a Small Group Factory

Spiritual growth isn’t a solo affair. We grow in community. You can read the Bible on your own. You can memorize a verse on your own. But you can’t grow spiritually by yourself. 

The New Testament uses the phrase “one another” 58 times. We’re told to care for one another, pray for one another, help one another, and so on. But our church members can’t do any of those things if they’re not involved in small groups.  

True growth happens with other people. That’s why, when we do spiritual growth campaigns at Saddleback, small groups are at the heart of them. In fact, spiritual growth campaigns are a factory for creating healthy small groups. 

So, how can you leverage spiritual growth campaigns to get more people connected in small groups?

First, provide great small group content. 

For many years, I emphasized the wrong aspect of small groups as I tried to encourage people to get plugged-in. I would tell them that small groups will help them build relationships. But that didn’t motivate the response I was looking for, because most people have plenty of relationships and feel like they’re too busy to invest time into more. 

But when I began offering people resources they couldn’t get elsewhere during spiritual growth campaigns, they joined small groups in droves. Our spiritual growth campaigns impact lives by helping people study the Bible, discover their purpose, pray, and stretch their faith like never before. To get the most out of our campaigns, they must be in a small group.

Now, people join our small groups for the fresh content, but they stay for the relationships. Saddleback is probably one of the few churches in America where more people attend small groups than attend weekly worship services. That’s because we’re not only giving them resources they can’t get elsewhere, but they’re building life-changing relationships in the process. 

Second, explain it’s a short-term commitment. 

We don’t ask people to sign up for a small group they’ll be in for the rest of their lives. When people are new to the idea of small groups, they’re often hesitant to make a long-term commitment. What if the time doesn’t work? What if they don’t sense a connection with their group members? What if the whole experience is awkward?

Most people can commit to anything for six to eight weeks. If they don’t like it, they can try something else. This is also a good length of time for people to develop meaningful and lasting habits. Jesus had six or seven major campaigns during his three-and-a-half years of ministry. During these periods, he’d focus on heavy ministry for five to seven weeks. Then he’d pull back and rest so he wouldn’t burn out his followers. Jesus understood the power of seasonal growth.

Third, be intentional about what you call your small group leaders.

The responsibility of leadership is often one factor that could limit the number of small groups your church can start. We had this issue at Saddleback for years. But then we discovered that our description of the role greatly impacted the number of people interested in getting involved. 

At first, we called our group leaders “lay pastors.” We only recruited dozens of people that way. The term “lay pastor” scared people. People reasoned that they weren’t pastors and didn’t respond. Then we went to “lay shepherd.” That was even worse. No one knew what a shepherd did, let alone spend time with sheep. 

So we changed the name to “small group leader,” but many people didn’t want to be called a leader either. We saw a similar response when we changed the name to “small group teacher.” 

That’s when I started thinking, for every person in our church who has the spiritual gift of leadership or teaching, there are probably 50 people with the gift of hospitality. So I finally changed the name to “small group host.” Anyone can host. All you have to do to host other people is be nice to them. 

The term HOST stands for four qualities we look for in small group hosts. 

  • H – Have a heart for people. (You do have to like people.)
  • O – Open up your home. (You can also open up your office or invite people to your favorite coffee shop.) 
  • S – Serve refreshments. 
  • T – Turn on the DVD/video teachings. 

If a person can do those four things, they can be one of your small group hosts. When I first changed the title of leader to “small group host,” 3,200 people signed up to host a group for six weeks. 

Small group involvement grows the most during spiritual growth campaigns. I believe spiritual growth campaigns can be a transformational part of your small group ministry as well. 


Are you looking to mobilize your people to get into small groups? Try launching a spiritual growth campaign in 2022.

Click HERE to explore our spiritual growth campaigns, and watch your congregation grow relationally and spiritually!

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