After 9/11, President Bush challenged Americans to participate in a national candle lighting ceremony and to ask God for help to get through the tragedy. The response was incredible. Days later I walked through my neighborhood and suggested to neighbors that we do something like this in our neighborhood as an evangelistic outreach and to show what happens when communities work together.
I first called men and women in my church who led Bible studies and got them on board. I then allied with a couple of women on the block who are the hub of information and networks. They directed me to the Moms in Touch group and introduced me to the PTA president of the elementary school. Through the PTA, I connected with the principal and significant businesses that donated money for the event. The principal led me to a group of enthusiastic teachers who helped me figure out the logistics of the event and introduced me to the junior and senior high principals who also lent support.
One day I walked into the local junior high and asked if they'd like to help out. They immediately suggested I make an announcement to the entire school. This junior high principal also turned me on to the junior high PTA network. The president sent out a blanket email that reached 80 percent of the parents of the junior high students.
Then someone connected me to the police and fire departments. We had the color guard. We had the girl scouts and the boy scouts all dressed.
This happened in a matter of 36 hours. Through this web of relationships, 1300—1500 folks came to this one event. The power of small groups to mobilize is an incredible force. This is the most transferable illustration that I can give you of how to find an unlimited harvest of leaders.
What did I do that is transferable to any small group ministry?
Once I found a few leaders, those leaders found other leaders. I just had a few hours and no time to singularly produce this event. I had to rely on other natural leaders in the community to make connections. It's advantageous to do this because they already have a personal connection with people with whom they're comfortable. They've got a network.
Affinity groups have trust. And trust gets you access. It also gets you loyalty, buy-in, credibility, and influence. As a volunteer who has limited time and resources, especially if you don't have a senior pastor involved, you don't have the pulpit to be able to leverage this. So you have to work with existing networks that have influence in order to get people to say yes.
Moms in Touch, PTA, community Bible study, and daytime ladies studies provide some of the best leader training resources that are out there. Yet sometimes we are so presumptuous to think that that we are the ones who are going to train all of our leaders. Remember you can find already trained leaders from existing relationships in every community in everyday places.
I didn't just go to the principals, but I also went to the teachers and the kids. The most strategic place you can work is the crowd. Be vocal at your church's weekend services to get the crowd to move to the next step and speak to their longing to belong to community. Challenge them to come to a place where they can get that.
--- Brett Eastman
Our Deepening Life curriculum and Randy Alcorn's Bible study on Heaven are “Purpose Driven Bible Studies” and can be used by churches for Small Group Ministry,Sunday Schools and church-wide campaigns. Each group session includes activities to strengthen small groups and encourage individuals to connect with God and one-another, grow to be like Christ, develop their gifts to serve others, share their life’s ministry and surrender their lives to God’s pleasure. These small group DVD Bible studies can be a great tool for small group leaders.
Church Kits include a Resource CD and are bundled with a DVD and a Study Guide. The Resource CD that includes Small Group Leader Training, Sermon Outlines, Session Outlines including scripture references, planning materials, group forms, graphics to produce bulletin inserts, banners, postcards and more. If you are a church and would like a FREE resource CD please order a Leader kit and in the special instructions type FREE CD.
Deepening Life Curriculum includes more than 14 small group video Bible studies: Romans, Acts, Ephesians, the book of Revelation, Praying God’s Way, Promises of God, the Gospel of John, Parables, Fruit of the Spirit, Psalms, James, and character studies on Ruth and the Apostle Paul.
Deepening Life Together Kits for small group leaders include a DVD and Group Discussion Guide. Leader notes and group forms are located in the back of each guide. Deepening Life DVDs include short video segments called “Leader Lifters” which leaders can watch before each group session for quick tips on what the group session will include.
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Brett Eastman served as the Small Group Champion at Saddleback Church and Willow Creek Community Church for over a decade. Brett has produced and either authored or co-authored over 200 small group curriculum series including the bestselling Purpose Driven Small Group curriculum, Doing Lifetogether published by Zondervan, which has sold over 3,000,000 copies. He also was the primary designer behind the 40 Days of Purpose Campaigns that fueled over 25,000 churches around the world. He also wrote and produced the first Purpose Driven small group series for Rick Warren that influenced the development of over 50 small group series to date.