A Potentially Game-Changing Mashup We’ll Be Testing in September

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I’ve written a lot about how to use the HOST strategy combined with a church-wide campaign.  In my mind those two strategies represent two of the most powerful ideas in small group ministry.  If you’re looking for a way to jump start lots of groups and connect way beyond the usual suspects…I’ve not found anything else that can come close to a well designed church-wide campaign with the HOST strategy in place.

I’ve not found anything that can top it…until now.  Keep reading…

The church-wide campaign strategy plus HOST comes with several problems, but since there is no problem-free solution or strategy, I use it and coach many other churches to use it because I’d rather have these problems than the problems of any other strategy for starting groups and connecting people.

The one thing the strategy doesn’t do very well is make it easy for unconnected people who don’t know a host to find a group.  We’ve tried a number of ways to get around that issue:

  • trained new hosts to fill their group by taking advantage of top 10 ways to find new group members
  • taken sign-ups to be in a group (once you’re beyond a certain size the match-making idea just doesn’t work)
  • implemented an online group-finder tool that allowed unconnected people to find a group near them (requires unconnected people to overcome their second greatest fear)
  • outfitted hosts with special t-shirts that identified them as hosts and had them stand up in the service

We’ve tried a lot of ways to help connect as many people as possible.  I bet you have too.

Here’s what we’re trying this September (I got this idea from Tracey Smith, a grouplife veteran at Central Christian here in Las Vegas):

  1. We’ll run the host recruiting strategy in August (three weeks in a row with an embedded ask in our senior pastor’s message).  See also, HOST Recruitment and the Launch Sequence.
  2. Host sign-ups will be invited to one of several identical orientations.
  3. The invite to the orientation will have a simple questionnaire attached and the instructions to bring the completed form to the orientation (you can download a copy of a recent questionnaire right here).
  4. At the orientation (and maybe on the invitation) they’ll learn that completing a couple steps will qualify them to promote their group in two ways: (1) at on-campus connecting events* the two weekends before the launch and (2) on the online group-finder.
  5. At a minimum, the required steps will include completing the questionnaire and connecting with a coach.
  6. On the weekends of the on-campus connecting events our services will be shortened to allow our attendees to walk a few steps out of the auditorium and choose a group to attend based on the area, day of week, and life-stage.  The key is that they’ll be able to meet the host face-to-face.
  7. Hosts leave the connecting events with potential members they’ve met face-to-face and contact information.

As you can see there’s a lot of detail missing.  If you’re a grouplife veteran you can probably see traces of the small group fair idea and also North Point’s GroupLink strategy.  See also, Distinctives of the Three Types of Small Group Connecting Events.

What we’re looking for is the most effective way to connect unconnected people who already attend our church.  The right church-wide campaign plus the HOST strategy does an amazing job of connecting friends, neighbors, co-workers and family.  Add this wrinkle…and we think it will connect even more people.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Have an idea to add? You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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