Four Keys for Improving Your Assimilation Process

If you ask 100 church leaders to define assimilation, you’ll probably get 100 different answers. Some might say it’s all about creating relationships. Others might say it’s when a new member joins the church.

For us, the best way to define assimilation is with a metaphor. In the same way that an engine is composed of multiple parts all working together to move a vehicle in one direction, effective assimilation is a system that involves many different areas working together to move people from first-time visitors to fully engaged members. It’s a process that begins with a person’s first visit to the church (for any reason) and ends when that person becomes connected to the people, ministries, and programs that drive the mission.

We’ve identified four keys to help you improve and streamline your assimilation process.

  1. Evaluate your current process, it’s important

It is often the case in ministry that there is so much to do and too little time. Sometimes all you can do is barely keep your head afloat. It can seem daunting to imagine having the time to stop, strategize, and learn a new system. However, taking the time to think through your church assimilation process might be the single most effective choice you can make in your ministry. Having a systematic approach to your assimilation process is imperative to ensuring that no one is overlooked and that your church is not leaking people. It’s tough to know whether your assimilation process is providing enough opportunity for life change without taking a step back and evaluating your process.

  1. Identify the primary areas that need attention

After having evaluated your church’s current assimilation process, what are some of the areas that need immediate attention? What role do each of these play in ensuring your church’s growth keeps… well, growing?

Each church’s assimilation process will be unique.

However, after working with many of our church partners at Church Community Builder we have identified four primary areas or processes that often need attention: Hospitality, Information Gathering, Follow-Up, and Connection.

  1. Develop a strategy for improving your church’s assimilation process

Take time to intentionally invest in a plan that;s going to improve your church’s overall health and growth. A process is something that can be measured and monitored; the same should be true of your assimilation strategy. Here are some ways we’ve seen churches benefit from greater intentionality around assimilation:

  • They end up mapping out how a new visitor is integrated into their community. This helps them remember the new visitor experiences.
  • They develop a process that can be replicated and reproduced. These are critical to the success of your ministry, and should regularly be assessed and tweaked.
  • They’re able to measure what’s working and what isn’t. You can’t manage what you don’t measure.
  • They place a higher percentage of attenders into small groups. Active small group participants are more likely to be faithful givers, volunteers, and lay leaders.
  • They have greater success connecting people with volunteer opportunities that match their passions and abilities. Just filling slots leads to burnout; matching people to positions leads to breakthrough.
  • Their churches are producing active leaders instead of frozen chosen. They make it more comfortable for people to get involved that just sit and consume.
  • They discover ministry opportunities they didn’t know existed. God has given your members unique gifts and a purpose that he wants to fulfill through your church. That purpose might be something you hadn’t considered before. 
  1. Leverage technology to measure the results of your process.

Your church management system has the ability to make assimilation more efficient and effective. In addition to helping you distribute workloads, it can provide a place for recording and measuring the effectiveness of your process. The larger your church becomes, the more moving pieces there are, and the more you can your staff will need to depend on robust technology designed to accelerate the rate your people grow, connect, and engage with the long-term vision and development of your church.

A healthy church maximizes the assimilation process

There’s a quote that reads: “If you want something you’ve never had before, you have to do something you’ve never done before.” And there’s probably a list of things that you’d like to do to help your church reach more people and move those people along the pathway of discipleship. However, you can’t keep doing the same things and expecting different results. Discipleship suffers without a good assimilation process that facilitates moving people into a deeper relationship with Christ, people struggle to connect, first-time visitors are discouraged as there is nothing in place for them to move forward and connect with the church and it’s vision, and your backdoor remains just as open as your frontdoor.

The end result: overall church health decays because there is no plan in place to help people keep growing.

Maybe your assimilation process needs a quick pulse check, maybe it needs some surgery, or even a complete overhaul, one thing we know for certain is that it is essential to building a thriving ministry.

The more powerful the assimilation process, the more powerful your church will be.

Here are some practical next steps you can take today:

  • Outline your church’s assimilation process. Document it.
  • Assess the effectiveness of your current process. How are you doing in the 4 primary areas we identified?
  • Put the necessary changes in motion

Learn more about improving your assimilation process – connect with an Auxano Navigator today.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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