7 Things You Should Know about the HOST Strategy (for starting new groups)

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Man drawing a game strategyWhen the HOST strategy was introduced by Saddleback in 2002 during the launch of 40 Days of Purpose it truly was a game-changing innovation. The idea that the senior pastor could challenge members of the congregation who had a heart for unconnected people to open up their home for 6 weeks, serve a simple snack, and turn on their VCR–and the results would be nothing short of miraculous–well, it was an amazing idea. See also, HOST: What Does It Mean?

13 years later it is still a powerfully effective strategy. It’s also a strategy that is often misunderstood (and poorly implemented) by many.

And I’d hate for you to be one that misunderstands or poorly implements this powerful strategy.

Here are 7 things you should know about the HOST strategy:

  1. The HOST strategy connects the friends, neighbors, co-workers and family of the people who say yes to hosting a group. Because the host is gathering their own group (and you’re not assigning members to the new groups), there is usually less concern about the qualifications of the host. See also, FAQ: How Should We Respond to Objections about Who Can Host? and Customized Leader Requirements and Benefits.
  2. The HOST strategy is not an effective way to connect large numbers of unconnected people in your congregation (and crowd) who do not know a host. What about unconnected people in your congregation (and crowd)? Since you will not be assigning members to HOSTs, you will need another strategy to connect those who do not know a HOST. It is very common to hold a small group connection to connect unconnected people within the congregation (and crowd) and use the HOST strategy to reach into the community. With a little work you can also use a mashup of HOST sign-up along with a kind of small group fair to connect people. See also, A Potentially Game-Changing Mashup We’ll Be Testing in September.
  3. The most effective HOST asks are made by your senior pastor during a message. There are two keys to this point. First, your senior pastor is almost always the most influential person in the church and the HOST ask cannot be delegated if you want it to be effective. Second, the best time to make the ask is during the message. You can include the opportunity during the preservice slide roll and you can include it as an announcement, but the most effective moment is during the message. See also, How to Make the HOST Ask: The 2012 Version.
  4. “If you have a couple friends you’d like to do the study with” is a game-changing secret phrase. You don’t need 10 friends to start a group. You need a couple. You don’t even need to refer to what you’re doing as “starting a group.” All you’re asking them to do is “invite a couple friends to do the study with you.” See also, Saddleback Changes the Church-Wide Campaign Game…Again.
  5. The most effective HOST asks reach the outer edge of the congregation (and into the crowd). Don’t miss this important understanding. The most connected people in your congregation have the fewest connections with unconnected people. When your HOST ask compellingly invites the least connected people in your congregation (and crowd) to consider inviting their own friends (who often have never been to your church) to do the study, you have the recipe for a powerful church-wide campaign. See also, Do You Know about This Game-Changing Connection Secret?
  6. You must make the HOST ask several weeks in a row. There are at least two good reasons to make the HOST ask several weeks in a row. First, if you want more of your congregation (and crowd) to have an opportunity to respond to the ask, you need recognize that everyone will not be there on one weekend. Second, the people in your congregation (and crowd) with the strongest outside connections are almost always less frequent attenders. See also, Why You Must Make the HOST Ask Several Weeks in a Row.
  7. The study you choose absolutely determines who will say “yes” to hosting a group. Potential hosts decide right away whether they could invite their friends, neighbors, co-workers and family to study that topic. Keep this important reality in mind when you choose the topic. If you hope to connect the friends, neighbors, co-workers and family of your hosts, you need to choose a topic unconnected people would be interested in. See also, Your Church-Wide Campaign Topic Determines Two Huge Outcomes.

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

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