5 Ingredients to Building an Online Host Team (with David Allen)

If you’re launching any kind of community, in-person or online, building a strong, reliable, and well-equipped team is absolutely essential. It may sound cheesy, but teamwork makes the dream work! 

When we talk to churches about their experience using Altar Live, we often hear that the hardest part about transitioning to Altar actually has nothing to do with the technology itself - it’s building an online host team. It can be difficult to recruit a team and find people who are comfortable serving in an online environment. 

Recently we met with our friend, David Allen, to talk about his history in the church tech world, how he helped launch Fellowship Church’s successful online ministry, and his method of building a successful online host team. 

After leaving the church for 20 years and returning to faith while living in the UK, David Allen has been a constant presence in the tech world. From being the fourth employee of Cisco to helping  launch the YouVersion Bible app, and eventually leading the global host team for the Church Online Platform, David sees his work in the tech world “as tent-making did to the Apostle Paul.”

When David first heard about Altar Live at the Premiere Digital Church conference in London, two years ago, he had to see it in action. He saw that Altar Live takes the capacity to engage with people to the next level.


As soon as he added Altar Live to his technical toolbelt, David's first goal for Fellowship Church was to build an online host team consisting of 4-5 people to serve every weekend. 


When we asked him how he went about building a strong host team, he shared with us some tips!

5 key ingredients to a successful online host team:

1. Hold regular devotionals for everyone on the team: 

It sounds simple, but setting a time for regular devotions can add a whole new level of stability and strength to your team. Hospitality teams are the lifeblood of any event especially when it’s held online. Don’t hesitate to take the time to be with your team and grow together as one unit.

2. Utilize Altar's Meeting feature to be a separate Meeting room tab so the team can communicate throughout the service

Being browser-based, Altar Live allows you to not only create personalized meeting rooms but also allows you to keep multiple tabs open for easy access between gathering spaces. During the service, communicate with your hospitality team face-to-face in a meeting without disrupting the service and avoid miscommunication over chat. 

3. Prepare announcements ahead of time and have them ready to post

A super-easy, but time-saving tip! With your team, plan out the announcements, polls, etc, ahead of time so they are ready to post the day of the service. Setting aside time for housekeeping tasks like making announcements, allows your team to play around with creative ways to give announcements (through a poll, adding buttons, and links, etc.) 

4. Post quotes from the sermon or ask questions 10 - 15 times in the General chat during the service

When it comes to engagement, repetition is key. You won’t get your church community actively interacting the first time around, and that’s okay! Have your hospitality team utilize the general chat by posting discussion questions or posting quotes from the sermon. Though it will take some time, people will follow your team’s example and start participating in the conversation as well. 

5. Create a list of what went well and what didn't after every service

Don’t forget to have a debrief– the most important step! Navigating the online church space will always be trial and error until you figure out a system that works for your community. After each service, get together with your team and go over what worked and what needs improvement. Use this space as a sounding board for community engagement ideas, enhancing participation strategies, and more!

Final Thoughts

Using these tips, Fellowship Church was able to launch its online ministry. David says he's most proud that his team now takes full ownership of the services and they feel confident not only with the technology but in their roles as well. 


As our conversation came to an end, David left us with some advice for anyone who is nervous about changing to a new platform: Just take things one step at a time.


Watch the full interview for yourself to hear more about David's honest journey in helping Fellowship Church build an online host team.