How to Make the HOST ASK: The 2012 Version

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Getting ready to recruit HOSTs for an upcoming church-wide campaign?  Let me give you my best shot at some keys to maximizing your impact.  I’ve written about this same topic in the past, but so much has changed since the earliest articles, I wanted you to have the 2012 version!

Here are what I think are the keys to maximizing the harvest:

Dedicate three (3) weekends to making the ask.  This is important.  If you want the largest response, keep four things in mind.

  • First, not everyone is there every week.  Your average adult attendee is in your auditorium 2 or 3 times a month at best (in some churches less than that).
  • Second, only crazy people respond the first time they hear the ask.  You know what I mean.  Only your pastor’s biggest fans will say “yes” on the first weekend.  Others will go home and think about it.  Some will even pray about it.  When they hear it again the next week, more will respond.
  • Third, it is important that some of your new HOSTs are from the “2 times a month” segment.  This is counterintuitive, but think about it.  Their friends have never been to your church.  If they fill their own group…their members will be people who have never been to your church.  In the words of Emeril Lagasse, “Bam!”
  • Fourth, make the HOST ask the only promotion.  If you want the maximum response, you’ve got to focus everyone’s attention on that one option.  Don’t build in choices or different ways to get involved on those weekends.  Don’t even talk about being “in” a group.  Only talk about hosting a group and you will maximize the impact.
  • Need more?  Read my article, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Several Weeks in a Row.

Make the HOST Ask in the sermon.  Don’t substitute an announcement.  The most influential person in your congregation is almost always the senior pastor.  The sermon is the time when most people’s attention is on what the pastor is talking about.  You can and should also include an announcement, but don’t substitute an announcement for a moment in the pastor’s message.

Here’s my best shot at a script.  When I’m coaching pastors on how to do this, here are the specific ideas and phrases I encourage them to use (I often refer to this as “the dance”:

  • Build a moment into the message when you can say, “If you have a heart for unconnected people, and you’d be willing to open your home for six weeks, serve some simple refreshments, and tell a few of your friends…you could be a HOST.”  See the acronym?  Corny?  Maybe.  But it gets the job done.
  • Next line: “In your bulletin is an insert.  It looks like this (said as your pastor pulls it out of the bulletin and holds it up).”
  • “While you’re taking out the insert I want you to hear the story of Bob and Jane Smith.”  I like to use a either a live testimony or a video account of someone who’s hosted in the past.  You can read about how to put it together in Take Advantage of Testimony to Recruit Hosts and watch an example in Video Testimonies that Inspire Action.
  • As the testimony or video ends say, “As your pastor, I want to encourage you to help us connect as many as possible for _________  (you’ll fill in the name of the series).  It’s a six week commitment.  We’ll train you to do a great job.  We’ll provide a coach who’ll help you get started.  You can do it.  Don’t miss this opportunity to see what God does in your home.  Just fill out this form and drop it in the offering later in the service.”

Make it easy to respond in the service.  You’ve worked hard to inspire a response.  Give everyone an easy way to turn in the HOST insert.  The best way I’ve found is to take the offering after the message and instruct everyone to “drop the form in the offering later in the service.”  Next best might be baskets at the doors with an usher.  Every step removed from the auditorium (dropping it off in the lobby, taking it to the small group booth, or completing the form online) lessens the response.

What do you think?  Have a question?  Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

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