HOST Recruitment and the Launch Sequence

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One of the most important components of the launch sequence is HOST recruitment.  Many churches make a crucial mistake right here when they overestimate the risks and underestimate the rewards of crowd-to-core recruiting.  The secret to an exponential launch is to recruit from the crowd if you want to reach the community.  I know…it sounds a little “take the pebble from my hand Grasshopper.” Stay with me.

[quote]This wasn’t an instant learning for me.  It happened over a number of years as I talked with churches that had done the 40 Days of Purpose and recruited HOSTs but had vastly different experiences.  I grasped the difference in their experience only when I realized that the churches who recruited from the core (what I call the usual suspects) were the ones with the more ho hum experience.  It was the churches who recruited from the congregation and crowd that had the exponential power of crowd-to-core.

How did I discover the difference?  I simply asked how they had recruited HOSTs?  Turns out that some churches simply made a list of the usual suspects and recruited them one by one.  Others had followed the prescription and incorporated the ask into a sermon (or better yet, a series of sermons).  Incorporating the ask into a sermon opens the door to a different HOST candidate.

Why does that makes a difference?  When a key piece of your strategy is to encourage the HOST to invite their friends, who their friends are makes a huge difference.  When you recruit a HOST from the usual suspects (the core) their friends are largely also in the core.  When you recruit a HOST from the congregation (or better…from the crowd), their friends are often not yet attending.  This is huge…don’t let it slide by.  Their friends are often not yet attending.  An invitation to join my group could be the first step in reaching their friends.  Isn’t it easier to say, “Come on over” than “Come with me to church?”

Can you see the reward side to this?  Pretty exciting!  Obviously, there are some other factors.  The church-wide campaign you’ve chosen makes a huge difference.  Choosing a topic from the easy end is a make-or-break component.  But can you see the upside to recruiting from the crowd?  Let’s talk for a moment about the risks, and more importantly, controlling the risks.

Recruiting from the core seems less risky, but only when you limit your understanding of risk.  When you broaden your understanding to include the risk that they might only invite other members of the core…you can see there are risks there as well.  On the other hand, when you recruit from the crowd…you can end up with many folks that are less well known.  You can also end up with some that may not meet what you’ve determined are your minimum standards.  For example, you may end up with some couples who are living together and not married.  Isn’t that a risk?  Sure…and it’s why you have steps in place to help confirm who can HOST.

Although I’ll be talking about the HOST Orientation in an upcoming post in this series, let’s take just a moment and flesh out the idea of minimum expectations.  A few points to consider might be:

  • Church membership: many churches require a HOST to be a member in order to host a group.  I’ve found that it works both ways.
  • Must be a Christian: while this may seem obvious, it’s an interesting question.  If the curriculum guides the discussion and the HOST fills their own group, could a non-Christian be a HOST?  You’ll have to make that decision.  I’ve seen it work both ways.
  • Attend the orientation: I always insist on this (and at the same time reserve the right to make exceptions).
  • Connect with a coach during the campaign.  This gives me a chance to impact the outcome and influence the direction of the group.

You’ll have to develop your own list of minimum expectations.  The key here is to take the time to understand both the risks and the rewards of recruiting from the crowd.  Remember, the secret to an exponential launch is to recruit from the crowd if you want to reach the community.

In my next article I take a look at Messages That Recruit Hosts.  If you’re not signed up to get my updates, you can sign up right here.

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