Host Orientations That Work

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I’ve written about this subject before here and here, but it is a critical step in a launch sequence and need to be sure you’ve got what you need to do it well.  Here are a few ideas that I’ve found very helpful.

  1. When people sign up to host a group, send them a letter from your pastor thanking them for their willingness to open their home and take this step.  The letter should also give them a few keys to hosting.  It should also tell them that “in order to host a group you need to attend one of the following HOST orientations.”  It should list the days and times (you need to do more than one in order to get everyone to attend one).  It should give them a way to RSVP (by phone or email).  It is also a good idea to call each RSVP just before the day to confirm their attendance.
  2. Be sure and be ready to greet people as they come in to the orientation and mix with them as they take a seat.  Introducing them to each other is a good step.  Definitely have them put on a name tag.
  3. The format I use takes one hour.  I begin promptly and end right on time.  In fact, I make a joke about starting and ending on time being “one of the most important small group principles you’re going to learn tonight!”
  4. The first thing I do is welcome everyone and thank them for stepping up to be a HOST.  I make a big deal about what they’re doing.  To me, it is a really big deal.  I talk about how they are the best link to some of the people they will invite.  I also talk about how much those people are depending upon them to swallow hard and invite their friends and neighbors.
  5. Second, I usually take a minute right here, have them turn to the others at their table and share what they are most “terrified” about as they think about opening their home.  I give ’em a minute or two, then ask them to share with me what they said.  It’s a fun moment.  It loosens up the room.
  6. Third, I always include a card in their packet that they fill out that gathers info about their contact info, whether they should be listed on the website, what type of group they’re launching, the day and time of their meeting, whether they’re open to new members, and how many they already have.  I take 2 or 3 minutes and walk them through the items on the card.  They turn it in when they’re on their way out.
  7. Next, I always include a prayer guide that leads them through a 7 day prayer calendar for the week leading up to the launch.  “Because what you’re about to do is so critical, you’d best not do it without praying daily.”
  8. Another piece that I include in their packet is often referred to as “the 5 circles.”  You’ve probably seen it…it has a circle for each of the 5 spheres of their relationships (friends, family, work, church, fun).  I take 2 or 3 minutes and walk them through each of those areas, encouraging them to jot down names of people they will invite from each of those circles.
  9. I take a few minutes and walk them through how the curriculum works.  I show a couple minutes of a DVD session, just to give them a feel for how engaging it is.  I also spend some time talking about how to use the study guide.  And I let them know that each week I’ll be sending them an email with tips on how I’d lead the session.
  10. I take questions as they arise.  Repeat their question so everyone can hear.

At this point in your preparation for the launch you’re probably wondering about How to Recruit Members to Groups?  I talk about that right here.  Miss an article in the series?  You can catch up right here.

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  1. Anonymous on April 3, 2011 at 11:54 am

    You spent a good amount of time reading the 8 articles (47 minutes)…so I can tell you gave them some thought. And you’re entitled to your opinion. However…and this is very important…these two strategies (Small Group Connection and HOST) have been used to launch many thousands of groups (probably hundreds of thousands of groups). And while there is the occasional instance where a person leaves the new leader meeting feeling like you’ve expressed, the vast majority feel honored to have been chosen. They also often feel somewhat unworthy to be a leader, which is an extremely biblical reaction. After all, when you think of Moses, Gideon, David, Jesus’ 12 disciples, and Paul…were all chosen. None of them volunteered. In fact, you’ll not find a single good example in either the Old or New Testaments of someone who volunteered to be a leader. The closest to a volunteer is Nehemiah…and that’s really not what he was doing.

    A full 10 years of using the Small Group Connection and 8+ on the HOST strategy and I can tell you without hesitation that these two methods launch groups that connect beyond the usual suspects and find leaders that you’d never find any other way.


  2. Drolandgs on April 3, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    From reading the articles it is clear it is successful or you wouldn’t keep doing them. And there almost always people, as you put it, on the fringes”, who want to do are not well known. But for me, to attend those, suddenly find I have been nominated to hold these things in my home, would be a horror. I tend to put my own issues into these stories. But churches rejected me so I may be looking for why.

  3. Anonymous on April 3, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    The vast majority of groups choose people they’d be willing to follow based on perceived strength and spiritual maturity. The best way to think about it is that they’re choosing the best “relative shepherd.” That is, relative to themselves…who would make the best candidate? While there are always exceptions, it is extremely rare for a group to choose people who would be horrified by the prospect. At the same time, there are people in almost every connection who hope to be chosen and are not. As Malcolm Gladwell described in Blink, people are pretty good judges of character and often form intelligent opinions quickly.

    Is the connection strategy 100% foolproof? No, but extremely accurate.

    Thanks for interacting! And I hope you’ll continue to read and explore.


  4. Rose Jones on June 29, 2012 at 8:40 am

    Hi Mark,

    Always enjoy my weekly research on The world of small group ministry is immensely blessed through your sharing.

    Is the 7-day prayer guide you mention in #7 available anywhere on your site?


  5. markchowell on June 29, 2012 at 9:14 am

    Hi Rose! Thanks for the affirmation! I’ve added a pdf version of an example prayer guide (calendar) in the post. Thanks for asking!


  6. Rose Jones on June 29, 2012 at 11:46 am

     Thank you Mark; looking forward to sharing with my Coaches and encouraging them to adapt to current and future Hosts. I really appreciate that you are so accessible via your website and small group network – you make things go well.