While most churches implement a number of systems to help them carry out their mission, assimilation can often get lost in the shuffle. But assimilation, the process through which we build relationships and connections, lays the foundation for a visitor’s meaningful immersion in the church, and subsequently, their intentional discipleship.
It begins with a visitor’s first visit to your church and ends when that person becomes connected to and engaged with your church. But it is possible, however, for someone to join your church without ever making a connection.
But you can’t steward someone without a relationship or a connection. And assimilation connects people to your church through relationships – so a church that does assimilation well will also create strong disciples.
Assimilation includes four basic processes:
Do you leave the door open for guests of your home to walk in, or do you greet them at the door and warmly welcome them into your home? Feeling welcome is due largely in part to feeling comfortable – and hospitality welcomes newcomers with people available to greet and guide anyone entering your doors.
2) Information Gathering
While hospitality is hard to quantify, gathered information is easy to measure. Accurate metrics enable a church to not only know their attendance numbers, but also the number of new visitors and recognize changes in the attendance patterns of their returning congregants.
Following up is recognizing what people need, when they need it, and provides you the tools and insight to connect with them intimately. It also helps your pastor engage individuals when they need pastoral ministry through information gathering that provides the dates, milestones and prayer requests that connect people when it matters most.
People who feel connected to their church – that they are valued and that they matter – are people ready to delve deeper into their relationship with Christ. Connection marks the end of assimilation and the beginning of discipleship. And people who are connected are people who become members, givers, servers and volunteers, and ultimately, intentional disciples.
When visitors – new and returning – choose to join you, take care to treat them as you would a guest in your home – thoughtfully, warmly and with a comforting joy that acknowledges the value of their presence.
And while no data should ever be more significant than the people it represents, the information you collect facilitates assimilation. And the more powerful your assimilation process, the more powerful your church – and its impact on the people it seeks to shepherd – will be.