How to Be A Better Onstage Host
Visit just about any church in your area this weekend and you’ll quickly discover that one of the most painful parts of the service experience is the “host” segment. It’s that part of the service where one of the staff pastors typically welcomes visitors and shares details of a few upcoming events. So, let’s just say it... this part of the service is almost always boring with a capital B. It’s often filled with christian jargon, inside jokes, and it goes on and on for what seems like forever.
Every week, people step into your church and mine for the first time, and in the brief time that you have with them, they’re deciding whether or not they’ll ever come back. This is why we MUST be strategic with EVERY part of our service experience and I think if we’re being honest, most of us would have to say that we give very little thought to the “host” part of the service.
So what does a good host look like? Well, after years of trial and error, we’ve been able to develop a few key principles that guide what we do with our weekend hosts.
This is perhaps the biggest faux pas committed week in and week out in churches all over. We provide little to no context at all about who we are as hosts, what our purpose is in being on the stage and most of all, what relevance any of our ministries have to newcomers sitting in the audience. So let’s talk about it step by step.
First off, always, I repeat, ALWAYS introduce yourself first. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a host take the stage in his or her church and never introduce themselves! This is nuts! Because we’re up there every week and because most of the congregation already know our name we just assume that EVERYONE already knows our name, but they don’t. Treat each weekend as if it’s the first time you have ever been on the stage and introduce yourself.
Secondly, what’s your purpose for being on stage? This is almost never stated but it’s a small bit of info that will help the newcomers in the room to understand what’s going on in case they haven’t been to church in while. Here’s how this might look at COTM:
“Hey, what’s up everybody, my name is Whit and I’m one of the pastors here at Church on the Move. I just wanted to take a minute to say thanks for being here this weekend and tell you a little bit about some events that we have coming up.”
See, that little bit of context provides your audience with a mental roadmap for where you’re going.
Thirdly, provide context for your announcements and church info. This is HUGE! We rarely say the word church by itself; as in, “welcome to church”. When any of our hosts say that, I always respond by asking “which church?” Be specific. If you’re referencing your church, always use its full name. The same is true for your pastor. We NEVER allow our hosts to use the word “pastor” by itself, we always want to be specific and say “our pastor, Pastor Willie George”.
The same goes for ministry names and church events, explain what you mean. We call our youth ministry Oneighty, but we don’t assume that everyone in our audience knows what Oneighty means, so we tell them. Again, provide context.
Smile... A Lot
When I first started hosting at COTM, I would ask my wife for feedback on how I did hoping to hear her tell me that I was great! Instead, her constant criticism was that I seemed lethargic, like I wasn’t really happy to be there. That was of course, not true, but it frustrated me greatly that she consistently gave me that feedback because I thought I was really nailing it. Well, after a few months of denial, I finally started noticing that she was right (isn’t that how it always goes?). I realized that the tone of speech and facial expression that I might use in a smaller scale conversation is not nearly enough for addressing the large room that I was hosting in, so I was going to need to amp up my natural personality a little bit. But how? I wasn’t about to dance around like a clown just to prove that I was happy to be there, but then it finally dawned on me; I needed to smile... a lot. I know, it sounds overly simple, but talking with a smile makes a HUGE difference in your perceived energy, so now I smile and my energy level automatically rises.
Confidence is huge, especially when it comes to announcements, because passion flows directly out of your confidence and passion is THE most important ingredient in getting people to listen to you in the first place. So, here are a few questions to ask yourself each time you hit the stage to host:
• Why am I up here really? Is there a reason? If so, can I articulate it?
• Do I really understand why we as a church are doing the event I am about to announce?
• Would I attend the event I’m asking the people of our church to attend? If I wouldn’t attend, why should they?
Knowing the answers to these questions will fill you with confidence when you hit the stage. Notice, none of those questions had ANYTHING to do with the details of events you’re going to announce. Why? Because NO ONE is inspired or moved to attend by the details. Sure, details are necessary at some point, but they are not good for motivation. So, next time you step onto your stage be sure you know exactly why you’re there and why you’re saying what you’re saying, so that you can speak with conviction, confidence, and passion.