"How do you help a host* get off to a great start?"
This is easily one of the most frequent questions asked about one of our main strategies for launching new groups at Canyon Ridge (the other strategy being a small group connection).
*Important Note: Although some small group models emphasize the roles of leader (the person who leads the group) and host (the person who opens their home for the group meeting), that is NOT what is meant here. In this case "host" refers to someone who simply responds to our invitation to invite a few friends to do a study together. Often referred to as the host "ask," it is simply including the following phrase in the weekend sermon and/or announcements:
"If you have a couple friends you'd like to do the study with, drop by Groups Central after the service today and pick up a HOST Kit. It has everything you need to do the study with a couple friends and we've made it super affordable."
Often used in combination with the church-wide campaign strategy, in it's earlier form the Host ask was a little more involved. You can read a little bit about the history and earlier strategy right here: How to Make the HOST Ask: The 2012 Version.
Here's how we help a host get off to a great start:
A few things to remember about the host strategy:
- Our first contact with most people who respond to the host ask is a stop at Groups Central to pick up a Host Kit. We have discovered it to be highly advantageous for the first contact to be face to face.
- We staff Groups Central with small group coaches and leaders who are knowledgable about starting groups and the specifics of the campaign.
- In most cases we charge a nominal amount for the kit. We incentivize the price to make it attractive (for example, when we did 40 Days of Prayer we sold the host kits for $25 (it had a $65 retail value). We try to decrease the burden for the host to shoulder the whole expense of inviting a couple friends.
- The kit includes everything needed to invite a couple friends and do the study with them (a host kit typically includes (a) the DVD, (b) 3 study guides, (c) a few simple invitations, and (d) a thumb drive with some helpful "how to get started" videos and information.
- In order to pick up the host kit a simple Host Info card must be completed. The card collects the host's name, best phone, and best email.
- Only new hosts can pick up the host kit. Leaders of previously existing small groups pick up materials on a separate days.
Here are a few specifics about how we help new hosts begin well:
- When they complete and turn in the Host Info card, they immediately begin receiving a series of emails that provide just-in-time coaching.
- Tips on inviting a few friends
- The ABCs of a great first meeting
- Ideas for helping new group members connect
- Each week the email includes specific tips and ideas for the upcoming session of the study.
- The weekly email also includes a look ahead at what's coming.
- The 4th and 5th week's emails point them toward a study to do next.
- New hosts are invited to a host gathering at or near the end of the series. At the host gathering they are connected to a coach.
As you can see, the connection with a coach happens much later for a host than it does for someone who is chosen as a leader at a small group connection. Because most host groups begin with the simple invitation of a couple of friends, the need for a coach is seen as less urgent on the part of the host. As the weeks progress they are often more and more receptive to the idea of a coach. See also, How to Launch New Groups with a Small Group Connection - 2016.