While many churches utilize a number of systems to help them manage the metrics that help them carry out their mission, often, assimilation plays second fiddle to the biggest buzz-word goal for church leaders: discipleship.
But assimilation, the process that transforms programs, services, and events into connections and human interactions, plays a critical role in creating disciples. Assimilation – by fostering intimate relationships and interactions – lays the foundation for meaningful emersion in the church, and subsequently, intentional discipleship.
And if assimilation and discipleship are two sides of the same coin, symbiotic and inextricably connected, then a church’s systems should reflect and support their importance.
Assimilation includes four basic processes:
Hospitality: 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 personally?
Church hospitality is much the same. There are two ways to deal with hospitality – passively and actively. Passive hospitality provides directional signs and information for newcomers that make navigating the church easier.
Active hospitality calls for – surprise – action. It welcomes newcomers with real, live people, available to greet and help anyone entering your doors. But hospitality shouldn’t stop with your new visitors. Both new and returning attendees want to feel like their presence is valued.
Information Gathering: When churches gather information, they often find – pleasantly – that they had more visitors than they realized. Numbers count (pun maybe intended).
With accurate metrics, a church can not only know their attendance numbers, but also the number of new visitors and recognize changes in the attendance patterns of their returning congregants.
If hospitality is the heart of your system, subjective and qualitative in nature, then information gathering is its head, objective and quantifiable – and actionable with follow-up.
Follow-Up: Helping the pastor engage individuals when they need pastoral ministry – thanks to information gathering that provides dates, milestones and prayer requests – follow-up connects people when it matters most.
Following up and following through is an intentional process that gives life to information cards. It’s recognizing what people need, when they need it, and provides you the tools and insight to connect with them intimately.
Connection: This marks the end of assimilation and the beginning of discipleship. People who feel intrinsically connected to their church – that they are valued and that they matter – are people ready to delve deeper into their relationship with Christ.
When people feel that their church is intimately invested in them, they are more likely to sacrificially invest in their church – becoming members, givers, servers and volunteers, and ultimately, intentional disciples.
And as a godly leader, when you help ready a heart to be receptive to God and He is allowed to infiltrate everything they do, you are cultivating intentional disciples and stewarding the people God has brought through your doors to serve Him.