Societies of Friends were organised as the revival spread across the land. They were sometimes called readers or students, because they studied the Holy Scriptures a great deal and were very knowledgeable. They were also called Haugians. Such Societies were registered all over the country; there must have been several thousand members altogether. These groups met in their homes and spent much time together praying and teaching.
Hans Nielsen Hauge was the self-appointed spiritual leader of these societies, but he delegated the local responsibility to others. He used both men and women as preachers and spiritual leaders. The notion of giving women such responsibilities was revolutionary at the time. But Hauge did not let this bother him. His opinion of equality and worth was right according to his understanding of the Bible. To him the question of gender was unimportant, the really important issue was to find the right person in the right place to accomplish the tasks in hand. Every group needed a leader, or a supervisor as he liked to call them, and this person needed the necessary leadership qualities. The person in question was to be chosen by people in the Society of Friends if Hauge had not chosen someone for them.
These Societies of Friends were distinguished by the fact that people lived in a brotherhood, helping one another both practically and spiritually. There was a clear connection between their life and doctrine. The Haugians behaved carefully, properly and nobly; they were hard working and never refused anybody if they could be of assistance. They showed initiative, charity and sacrifice, and many of the cottage industries the Haugians started up were financed with the help of gifts from Friends all over the country. Another characteristic was that there was room for all kinds of people in the Societies of Friends. The old class distinctions from the farmers' society were gradually wiped out by the fact that men and women, farmers and servants, the crippled and the elderly were all on the same footing. Unselfish love and co-operation distinguished them all. Haugians spent much time together: they spoke to each other of spiritual matters, taught and advised one another and were edified by reading spiritual books. Hauge's letters and writings were also read diligently for all to hear.
Hauge guided the Societies of Friends through his letters. He was a very diligent letter-writer, and through his letters he came with admonishings, personal greetings and spiritual guidance. As the cottage industries developed, the business content of his letters also grew, and as far as Hauge was concerned, he found no discrepancy in including spiritual and business matters in the same letter. In a typical letter from Hauge written in December of 1802, he urges his Friends to be humble, helpful, and diligent in all things, to doing good in order to prevent evil, to showing charity and love. At the same time he mentions the possibilities of various trading and business ventures, and finally asks the recipient of the letter to send him some corn to be used in the establishment of a new venture.