As you think about the fall small group boom, one of the best ways to recruit new leaders is with a church-wide campaign or small group in a box. We’re just going to talk about curriculum in this post, but curriculum alone won’t get big results. You also need strategy. Add to strategy, prayer. Then, you’ll have something.

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Campaigns or alignment series can be rolled out in several different ways. I see sort of a Good, Better, Best in the approaches:

Good – Purchase a video-based curriculum that your pastor promotes.

Better – Purchase a video-based curriculum that aligns with your pastor’s sermon series and that your pastor is willing to promote.

Best – Create your own video-based curriculum with your pastor’s teaching. Not only will your pastor promote groups more enthusiastically, but your people will respond more enthusiastically.

What Curriculum Will You Use?

Will your church purchase curriculum or create curriculum? If you purchase curriculum, then you need to plan for $70-$100 per group. Creating curriculum varies widely as you’ll see below.

Will you sell the curriculum to the group members? I recommend providing the video and a study guide to the group leader at no cost, then charging the group members for their study guides at cost or less. Also, plan to give away a few study guides to those who cannot afford them.

If you are purchasing curriculum, what platform carries the video? Once upon a time, we bought DVDs at $25 each. That adds up. Is there a curriculum on Right Now Media, Studygateway, Amazon Video On Demand, or another source? If so, your current subscription might already cover the video costs. Otherwise, you’ll have to rent or purchase the content. This adds up quickly.

Creating Your Own Curriculum

The methods of creating curriculum vary widely. I’ve helped churches develop video-based curriculum with budgets ranging from $25,000 – $50,000 or more. I’ve also coached churches who created their curriculum with an all volunteer team or even shot the video with an iPhone. It all worked. It just depends on how you want to work it! Here are a few things to consider:

Who will produce your video? A professional videographer, a wedding videographer, your in-house production team, your volunteer team, you and your pastor (that’s how I produced my first one!), or an iPhone user? There are pluses and minuses with each option. Hiring outside expertise can cost a lot of money, but also guarantee a finished product on time. In-house production teams can save money, since the church is already paying them, but you are at the mercy of the 156 other projects on their list. The same flexibility goes with a volunteer team. They may have the skills, but they’re moonlighting. Patience is required. You have to allow plenty of time (read: If you’re shooting a fall campaign with staff or volunteers, start now!)

What equipment do you need to purchase or rent?

Where will you shoot the video? Is there a cost? (I recommend shooting in a large home and NOT at the church).

What are the costs of feeding the crew? A fed crew is a happy crew. A hungry crew will think twice about your next project.

How will you provide the video to your groups? Streaming on Youtube or Vimeo? DVDs? You can also stream your videos through your Right Now Media account.

Creating Study Guides

Will you produce a physical study guide or provide a digital download? If this is a major launch, then a physical study guide in people’s hands will show the effort you put into the study. For any other launch, a download will do.

Who will design your cover? You are not a designer. Don’t design your own cover.

How will you print your books? On demand printers like Kindle Direct Publishing or Ingram Spark charge about $2.25 each for a 120-page study guide whether you purchase one copy or 1,000 copies (plus shipping). You do need to allow 30 days for printing and shipping. You could go with a conventional printer, even a local printer, but to get $2.25 per book, you’d have to order 2,000 copies. And, if you need more copies, the price goes way up!

The most affordable way to deliver curriculum is with streaming video and a digital download. There are no costs. This is perfectly suitable for regular seasons and semesters. For major group launches, the extra effort of producing a physical book will create more interest in your church and net huge dividends.

As you work through these questions, you will find clarity for planning and budgeting your next church-wide campaign. If you need any help, I have produced curriculum for a wide variety of pastors and churches including Rick Warren, Dr. Tony Evans, Chip Ingram, Gene Appel, and many others. For more information, click here.

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