Frequently Asked Questions

A Typical Week in the Program

What is a typical week at a host congregation like?

During the week there are approximately 50 slots for volunteers. Some congregations have a different member for each slot; others have volunteers take on multiple roles. Volunteers come from the host and support congregations and are assigned duties by the Volunteer Coordinators—members of the host congregation who oversee the week.

Sunday

  • A Network truck or van arrives in the afternoon with cots and the families’ personal belongings to be set up in designated space.
  • Guest families arrive at the Host congregation Sunday evening. The rooms for the families and the common area have been set up prior to the arrival.
Weekdays (after departing the congregation)

  • The Driver takes guests to the Day Center. From there, children will go to school and the parents to their jobs. In the afternoon the reverse is done.
  • If the parents do not have a job, they work with the Director at the Day Center to seek employment, housing, and other resources to help them regain their independence. The Day Center has bathrooms with showers and other necessities to prepare for the day.
  • Everyone returns to the Host Congregation around 5:30 PM and the cycle repeats.
Weeknights

  • Families settle in, relax and meet the coordinators and the evening volunteers. At 6:00 PM dinner is served family style. Guests and volunteers share the meal together. Families are responsible for their children and help with clean up and chores.
  • After dinner, volunteers fellowship with families. Hosts and their families play games, help with homework, watch videos, 
or just talk.
  • Food for lunch is available in the kitchen area and parents make sack lunches for their families for the following day.
  • Adults turn in around 10:00 PM; children at appropriate earlier bedtimes. Wake up is around 6:00 AM. 2 Volunteers will spend the night at the congregation.
  • Breakfast is served around 6:30 AM during the week; typically cereal and other convenient foods. The Network van picks the families up at 7:00 AM.
Saturday

  • On Saturday the families can sleep in and enjoy a hot breakfast (pancakes or bacon and eggs). Families go back to the Day Center and do what families typically do on weekends—see friends and relatives, take children to activities, etc.
The following Sunday

  • On Sunday the families are packed up and out of the facilities prior to Sunday services. They are taken to the Day Center for the day until it is time to move on to the next congregation. Families that want to attend services will usually do so at their own congregations; some may choose to worship at a host congregation.

…and the next host congregation begins its week.

Becoming a Host Congregation

What facilities do host congregations need to have for guests?

Facilities must include a lounge area (with sofa, chairs, tables, TV), a dining area, a kitchen, bathrooms, and sleeping accommodations. Ideally, congregations provide a separate room, such as a classroom, for each family. If that isn’t possible, a fellowship hall or other large room can be divided by partitions to provide privacy.

Our building is in use almost all the time. How will we find the space?

Churches and synagogues are busy places with many demands on their space. Rarely does a perfect space exist. Hosting almost always means making some scheduling adjustments for activities and meetings. For example, four or five times a year, AA or the Bible Study Group may need to move their Tuesday night meeting to another room.

What are the insurance implications of participating in the Network? Does the congregation have to amend its policy?

Each local Family Promise Network must carry general liability insurance. Congregations are usually covered by their own property and liability policies because IHN is considered to be an outreach ministry, a regular activity of the church like a youth sleepover or Friday night supper. Most congregations find they do not need extra insurance to be hosts. To be certain, each congregation must contact its insurance agent.