CHALLENGE GROUP COUNTDOWN
                  How to prepare for a church-wide challenge

10-12 weeks before:

   -   Order Promotional Materials. All promotional materials can be found at: Other items you might want to consider for additional
         Signage- 2 x 8 banners advertising the need to join a group
         Wristbands- green plastic imprinted bands reading “One Month To Live”

 We handed out wristbands to all people attending services one weekend.
 Better idea: Have all people hand in their completed registration flyers
 at the end of service IN EXCHANGE FOR a green wristband.
 1 Flyer = 1 Wristband. Stick to it or you’ll run out quickly!

       Order Sample Materials. Have on display copies of the book, the study
       guide, the challenge planner and the DVD. All sample materials can be
       ordered on
          Promotional Videos – Run the short video prior to service starting on
       your main video screens. In our church we ran these before services, in the
       main atrium, and linked them to the web.

   - Set goals for participation levels, such as hoping for 50% of regular attendees
   to participate in the study. Of those people, 100% of the groups will still
   participating by week 6, for example. Keep in mind, about 10% of the people
   who sign up to lead a group won’t get the group off the ground. So adjust your
   goals accordingly!

Inserts will run typically for 2 – 4 weeks EACH.

   Printed Materials:
   A) “I Want to Host a Challenge Group In My Home” Insert <a sign up card
      FOR LEADERS to be included in the bulletin. Print enough for 2 weeks>.

   B) “Get Connected” Postcard Insert <a sign up card FOR ATTENDING A
      GROUP to be included in the bulletin>

   C) “What would you do if you only had ONE MONTH TO LIVE?” <invitation
      card for LEADERS to send to attendees>.

   SAMPLES of these items are included at the end of this documentation.
   For maximum exposure, post the forms or something similar on your website.
   Have the forms open so registrants can fill them out online. Via email, have
   them routed back to the person coordinating this campaign.

 If you choose to put forms online, make sure an email response is automatically
 generated telling people their registration was received. Save yourself incoming
 phone calls and headaches!

   A) Plan Training for new Leaders.
          This is where they will receive the leader binder, DVDs, a Challenge
             Group Interactive Guide, Invitation Postcards, etc.

   B) Begin thinking about a Thank You event for Host Home Leaders.


 Books come on pallets with literally hundreds of boxes. You’re going to need
 places to store these, box cutters and lots of strong volunteers BEFORE
 distribution starts to put all three things in each location.

 Choose a room or atrium that allows you to put Paid On-line, Checks, and Credit
 Cards along 3 separate walls. At each wall, have plenty of stock of the books,
 planners & guides banded together in advance.

   How to organize PAYMENT:

   Have 3 lines for getting these materials.
   Label LARGE SIGNS for each line that say:

   A) Paid on-line with credit card.
   B) Pay Now with Check.
   C) Pay Now with Credit Card

 Make it easier on volunteers by only taking checks, not cash! Ensure the
 Internet connections for credit card transactions work BEFORE you let people in
 line. Try to run a sample transaction.
8-9 weeks before:

   -Sr. Pastor
      Announce 30 Day Challenge from pulpit.

   -Use a Data/Admin Team or computer literate volunteers to:
       Scrub existing small group database. Contact ALL existing groups by email
   and phone to ensure they’re onboard for the One Month To Live study. Key to
   this is:
             Host Home Leader Name
             Type of Group (couples, couples w/kids, singles, men’s, women’s,
             Location where they’ll met
             Day and time

    Verify that the leader knows it is EVERY WEEK for 6 weeks straight! Send a
    reminder email showing them the information they told you, including leader’s
    name, type of group, location and date/time. Just because they said it to you
    doesn’t mean they’ll remember or stay committed.

           Make sure all flyers are printed, the trainings are scheduled, the binders
               are being created, and pertinent materials are being ordered.


    -Show Promotional Materials and keep a visible and busy presence in the
   atrium/public area. We tried to show a home setting, with a couch, rug,
   decorations, and a TV playing the One Month To Live DVD. We staffed this with
   pastors, small group leaders and volunteers to make it appealing and easy to
   show as a model.

       If you have an outgoing pastor who can approach people standing around the
   sanctuary, try to get people to step in and sit down to experience how easy it is
   to sit as a group and watch a DVD! Provide encouragement and answer
   questions. Leading is scary to many people!

    Provide a box of binders and flyers nearby so if anyone would like to sign up to
    lead, you’ll have materials available. Encourage existing leaders to volunteer to
    man this area. Have them talk about how they lead.

6 weeks before:

  -   Sr. Pastor
        Initiate challenge from pulpit- calling for Leaders.
  Direct members to register using the flyer placed in the bulletin or at tables
  outside of the atrium.

  - Data Team or Volunteers
  Add new small group Leaders to database.
  Email them that they have been accepted as new leaders.

      In the email, make them aware of MANDATORY Host Home Leader Training. At
      the training they will receive a leader binder and the One Month To Live DVDs to
      show their group!


  -   Sr. Pastor
      Initiate challenge from pulpit- asking them to take time RIGHT THEN to fill in
  the flyer. As they exit, they will put the flyers in a basket and receive a green
  wristband. They are to wear the wristband for the whole 30 day challenge and/or
  6 week study.

      Make sure the senior pastor has a wrist band on and give him a handful to throw
      into the audience to illustrate his point. But don’t give him too many!!

  Items to gather:

  1) BASKETS: many to receive the flyers, many to hold the wristbands being

  2) VOLUNTEERS: 2 volunteers paired together every couple of feet inside and
  outside of the atrium doors. They need to be ready before offering. Expect this
  to be…. a hair chaotic, under the best of circumstances.

  3) STAFF on hand to explain what leaders will do and register people who are

      For the upcoming weekend, run the Bulletin Insert – GET CONNECTED

  -  Data Team
         In a database or spreadsheet, collect the contact information and specific
  type of group wanted for each registrant.

      Invest in a Microsoft software product called “MapPoint”. For about $150.00,
      MapPoint will allow you to take your data and map every Leader you will
      have. MapPoint is available at: .
      This is CRITICAL to your success in joining people with groups close to home.
      Remember, you’re going to be mapping the LEADERS!!

5 weeks before:

Hold an orientation class, possibly on a variety of days, giving potential leaders the
opportunity to understand how home groups work.
Review the Challenge Group Interactive Guide together.
The Guide is broken into chapters, with sections.

Section 1:
Overview Questions to Consider BEFORE the DVD is played. Read these aloud as a

Section 2:
LAUNCH Point. Have one attendee read these paragraphs aloud.


Section 3:
Group Discussion Questions.
Leaders read out the questions, allowing enough time to answer them fully- by each
attendee who wants to speak. Allow everyone time to process their answer and wait
for them to volunteer to speak. Be patient!!

 It might help at first for you to share a short answer that applies to your life.
 This gets people talking.

 *NOTE: NOT all of these questions have to be covered. Select the ones you
 think might apply ahead of the meeting time, if possible.

    The second section is called “Learn”; these are Bible-based opportunities to
     go further into the study.
 Scripture references are labeled here, but the actual scripture is not.
 You need a Bible close by in case you want to cover them! Before the group
 meeting, mark, tab or sticky note the pages for quick access to read the
 scripture out loud.

    The third section is called “Live”. One method to further the lesson being
     presented is for attendees to write down how it applies to their lives to
     provide internal review and application.

 Usually it’s best to do this away from the Host Home meeting. Whether or not it
 is reviewed upon the next meeting is up to the group. Keeping in mind, some
 people may reveal on paper ideas or issues they WOULD NEVER REVEAL IN
 PUBLIC. Respect this!!

    The fourth section is called “Leave”. After prayer, this is the place for a
     member to deeply consider a life question. For example, in the first chapter,
     the question is: What do you want the “dash” on your gravestone to
     represent? Encourage members to fill this in, as it might help cement the
     whole theme of the lesson.

    The studies end with BLANK FORMS:
     Session Notes
     Challenge Group Prayer and Praise Sheets

  What to give your leaders at the TRAINING:
  Book, Study Guide, DVDs, Planner, and Scripture Reference

  -Leadership binder if they haven’t received it, including:
             Role of the Leader
             Practical Tips for Leaders
             Who can we invite? (form)
             Host Home Covenant (form)
             Frequently Asked Questions
             Conflict Resolution Guide for Small Groups
             Where Do I Go When I Need Help? (chart)

  -Forms to copy:
             Group Member Personal Profile
             Small Group Roster and Information Update Form
             Small Group Prayer and Praise


Leaders should read through the first chapter of the Challenge Group Interactive
Guide <green with bicycle on front> to become familiar with the contents.

Have a Bible handy! It would be good to mark the scriptures throughout the Section
entitled “LEARN” with a tab or sticky note for easy access.
The scriptures alternate in green and white sections throughout and are usually
about 6 in total. Under each scripture there are questions that can be done
individually or as a group.


             o   Welcome all guests
             o   Provide drinks and cups (snacks if possible, perhaps potluck?)
             o   Additional pens & paper are helpful
             o   Give everyone up to 15 additional minutes to arrive, get settled and
           o     Start with an opening prayer asking for the group to succeed and for
                 God to show the group the lessons He wants us to learn for our
                 individual lives.
             o   Guide everyone to the first chapter of the workbook.
             o   Ask a member to read the INTRODUCTION out loud. This helps
                 prepare the group for the study. Explain that there is place in the
                 chapter to take notes.
             o   Begin the DVD.
             o   Group discussion- using questions as a guide!
             o   As time draws close, ask for prayers requests and write them down.
                 Be sure to give praise if you have it~ model for them that anything
                 is praise worthy.
             o   Either lead a closing prayer or ask an attendee to, trying to
                 encompass the prayer requests everyone just heard.
             o   If you promise to email/call or be in touch about anything, DO IT!!
                 *Empty promises mean empty seats at the next meeting!

2-4 weeks before:

   -   Pastor and Volunteers- outbound phone calls made from staff and
       volunteers to the new leaders is a great way to get everyone on the same
       song sheet. If anything you’ve advised them has been unclear, this is where
       you will learn it. Though it’s tedious, take the time to call EVERY NEW


      -HAVE ALL LEADERS IN PLACE. Insert members according to group type &
      location. This is when MapPoint will be hugely helpful again. One thing we’ve
      started asking potential members is what are the major cross streets near their
      homes? It helps with mapping.

            -Ideal Group Size: 10 to 14 people
            -Connect by Location, Age, Status (single, married, with kids or without)
           - MapPoint was pivotal to us here! Put in your leaders via spreadsheet first.
                Put in the registrants according to marital status/location/age.

    The personal connection really matters here. Phone calls, emails, follow ups
    however you can to ensure people are placed correctly. We can’t urge you
    enough though- be sure you are staffed appropriately! This took at least 6
    people (including volunteers) working to get connections done and

1-2 weeks before the event:

-         Remind Leaders to Send Reminders!!- all new leaders need reminder
          emails that they should have their workbooks, DVDs, and such ready to go for
          the first meeting. Ensure that they have rosters with contact information
          completed. THEY NEED TO CALL THE MEMBERS to make sure they know
          where the meeting will be held, what to bring, what to expect and that they’ll
          be praying for the first meeting’s success!

      -   Require Host Home Leaders to call all members. This is the opportunity
          for them to connect before meeting in place, as well as verify
          date/time/location/baby-sitting decisions and key elements of meeting
          logistics, such as where to park or how to get directions. The first talk
          between leader and member can set the tone for how the group dynamics
          work early on. REMIND members to have books/workbooks to bring to class!!

      -   On-line Sales, Events and Registration and Tracking: One product we
          had great success with is called ServiceU. ServiceU provides online event
          management software for non-profits, churches, universities, etc. By using a
          combination of their services, you can schedule events, secure payments and
          registrations and manage the box office for sales. You can reach ServiceU at:

                                 ServiceU Corporation
                             60 Germantown Court, Ste. 202
                                   Memphis, TN 38018
                   phone: 1-866-709-7420 or email:

                      LAUNCH ONE MONTH TO LIVE!
                             Build up the momentum, MAKE IT FUN!
                       Give out wristbands, go green with everything.
           The more excitement- the better buzz there will be.
       Look for, encourage and share the life change stories!
                 Be sure to tape or document testimonies.
Have the Sr. Pastor share these with the congregation as the study is
                       happening. You will be amazed!

1-2 weeks prior to closure

   -   Have a plan for a next suggested study. It’s critical to have
       recommendations, as this is where many of group struggle. Erwin McManus,
       Chip Ingram, Andy Stanley and others have fantastic studies. Perhaps have
       the Sr. Pastor suggest new studies, making a list available as handouts, and
       talk about other studies that have been done and were successful in the past.
       It’s good to have handouts with suggestions in the flyer or on the website.

   -   Have Leader event or Celebration – 2 wks before study ends
       Celebrate/Share Stories/Prayer Requests/”Booths” for next suggested
       Studies. Make this an opportunity to thank everyone who stepped up to be a
       Host Home Leader. But also make this encouraging, a pep rally, with prayers
       for the continued success of their groups and praise for making it through!
       Be sure to have an invitation for the leaders to “Bring a Friend”. Make sure
       all friends or non-leaders sign in and leave their contact information.


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