Take Advantage of Testimony to Recruit Hosts

Share via:

I’ve talked about this concept before (here and here), but it is so powerful I wanted to come back to it one more time.  Whether you’re recruiting hosts or members there is almost nothing more powerful that personal testimony.  In fact, it probably should have been one of the Top 10 Reasons Saddleback Has Connected Over 130% in Small Groups.  They are masterful at using the power of personal testimony in their services.

You can film it in advance (like the ones I’ve linked to below) or you can do it live.

Personal testimony is a powerful element.  The reason it is so popular with product marketers is it is effective.

The very best place to add video is during the message.  There are two main reasons for this:

  • The time during your service when you have the best chance of having everyone’s attention is during the message.  You’re only kidding yourself if you think that people are paying attention during the announcements…no matter when they’re placed.  But if your pastor says “Just watch this video” or “please welcome Bob and Sue”…people are more likely to be paying attention.
  • Video or live testimony often adds an emotional element that is missing in many sermons.  Although there are some speakers that can deliver the full range of emotion in their messages (John Ortberg comes to mind), this is not true of everyone.  Many are much more adept at using humor to spice up their sermon delivery.  You need to know that humor will not work as a recruiting device.

When I’m producing a host testimony video, you’ll notice that I’m not in the video.  I’m off camera and I’ve instructed the folks I’m interviewing to answer in a way that lets the audience know what the question was.  I routinely ask 3 main questions when I am producing a video to recruit hosts:

  1. When you were thinking about hosting a group, what were you afraid of?  Or why were you hesitant?
  2. What do you sense God did in your group?
  3. What would you say to the people who are thinking about hosting?
  4. I sometimes add in a 4th question if it feels right: Can you imagine not having the group?

Listen for these three questions as you watch this year’s videos:

40 Days of Purpose #1 from Mark Howell on Vimeo.

40 Days of Purpose #2 from Mark Howell on Vimeo.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Jonno Strickling on June 11, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    Greetings, I see you are using the term “host” as those who are facilitating or leading the small groups. Can you explain the thinking behind using “host” versus other options, such as facilitators, leaders, etc? We are approaching our 9th month of small groups, and have grown from 3 groups meeting inconsistently to upwards of 45 groups meeting with more regularity. We are always looking for opportunities to improve, grow, learn, and expand.

  2. markchowell on June 11, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Thanks for jumping in here Jonno! Great question and not hard to explain. Saddleback began using the term HOST to describe a person with a HEART for unconnected people, who’d be willing to OPEN their home 6 times, SERVE a simple snack, and TELL a few of their friends about 12 years ago when they did 40 Days of Purpose the first time. Can you see the acrostic? H.O.S.T. It is a non-threatening way of describing a six week toe-in-the-water test drive. You can read more about it right here: http://www.markhowelllive.com/host-what-does-it-mean/

    Next step in the thinking is that in addition to making it easy to step into a “leadership” role, we ought to make it nearly automatic that you’d continue to develop as a leader. You can read about Saddleback’s Leadership Pathway right here: http://www.markhowelllive.com/steve-gladen-on-saddlebacks-leadership-pathway/

    Does that help? By the way, I loved what you shared about your own story! That’s great!


  3. Jonno Strickling on June 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Excellent. Thank you for the insight. I will definitely pursue more of your resources. Thank you for sharing so freely (and quickly). Here’s another one for you if I may.
    Have you, in your experience ever heard it said, whether by statistics or through conversation, that it is difficult for Black (African-American) Churches to successfully integrate the small group paradigm?
    If you have heard of this, what would the reasoning be behind it.
    I would love to hear your views on this. As we are experiencing some levels of success, we are also experiencing other levels of drop-off. I do not want to accept the excuse, “That’s normal.”

    I really appreciate your article “5 Keys to Sustaining New Groups” by the way.

    Again, I thank you.

  4. markchowell on June 12, 2014 at 9:30 am

    Great question Jonno. I have worked with several African-American congregations over the years and they have had success. My friends at LifeTogether just completed a fairly successful small group launch at Tony Evan’s church in the Dallas area. And I remember some early coaching/consulting work that we did in both Boston and New York needed some modification, but I think they were both extremely urban locations and there was some fear about inviting new or unknown people into homes. Still, I would say overall that every attempt has some adjustments.
    Make sense? If you have other questions, you should email me at Mark@MarkHowellLive.com