What are the secret ingredients of a message that recruits HOSTs? Maybe that begs a question. Maybe we should start by asking this question: “Are there certain ingredients that make HOST recruitment easier or more likely?” What do you think? Think there are ingredients that make it easier to recruit HOSTs?
I’ve found that there are certain things you need to pay attention to when you are writing a message designed to recruit HOSTs for a church-wide campaign. This applies to most recruiting, but it is absolutely true when you’re trying to encourage people who have a HEART for unconnected people to OPEN up their homes, SERVE a few refreshments and TELL a few friends (can you see the basis for the H.O.S.T. acronym?). Again, there are certain things you need to pay attention to when you are writing a message designed to recruit HOSTs. What are they?
The first ingredient is to have the right point of view when you’re teaching. This is critical…and so helpful when you get it right. What am I getting at? Let me see if I can explain it. If you look at the two examples I’ve used previously (Matthew 9:36 or 2 Kings 6-7) you’ll see that what’s highlighted is God’s heart for people who don’t have what they need. In Matthew 9, Jesus sees the people and has compassion on them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Note the point of view. Jesus has compassion for those without a shepherd. This is not a passage where Jesus condemns the Pharisees for their lack of compassion. The focus here is on Jesus as model and the real life experience of those without a shepherd. Can you see how that real life experience could be explored as a way of motivating compassion on the part of your congregation?
2 Kings 6-7 highlights the condition of the inhabitants of the city under siege and makes heroes out of the lepers who chose to share what they had found. Again, point of view is important. If you want the members of your congregation to respond to the real world circumstances around them…they need to see it for themselves.
A third story that bears mention is found in Luke 19. Zacchaeus climbing the sycamore tree to see Jesus is very familiar and the point of view is easy to get wrong. The easiest way to talk about Zach is to focus on his role and the way the Jewish people felt about him. When you’re looking for a story that helps members grapple with the real life experiences of the people around them, the better point of view is the actual experience of being an outcast. Once you’ve fleshed out what that experience is like, asking for volunteer HOSTs who have a heart for people like that becomes easier.
Here are the other keys:
- Guilt won’t do it. Shame won’t either. People step up to open their home out of a more noble motivation.
- Vision plays an important role in recruiting. Helping each person see the significance of his or her individual part will go a long way toward generating a response.
- Video or live testimony from a previous HOST can play a big part in helping many respond. See my article on how to develop testimony that recruits hosts.
- Give everyone a way to respond immediately. Placing an insert in the bulletin is an important component. Refer to the insert during the message. For more on this idea read my article how to make the small group ask.
- There are several ways to collect the signup insert from those who say “yes” to hosting a group. Some churches find it effective to have everyone who commits to hosting a group come forward at the end of the service. Other churches station ushers at the doors who collect the signup form. I’ve had the most success when I’ve positioned the offering right after the message and instructed everyone to “place their signup form in the offering basket.”
- Provide a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) sheet at the small group table in the lobby for those not quite ready to respond.
I hope this is helpful as you sequence your small group launch. The next article in the series is on Promoting the Launch Series.