How Effective is Your Assimilation Process?

While many churches implement a number of systems to help them manage the metrics that help them carry out their mission, assimilation often gets lost in the shuffle.

But assimilation, the process through which we forge interpersonal connections, 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.

Assimilation begins with a person’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 a church without ever truly making a connection.

But you can’t steward someone without a relationship. Assimilation connects people to your church through relationships – so a church that does assimilation well will also create strong disciples.

So churches employ a variety of systems designed to help them carry out their mission because while assimilation is all about human interaction, systems help us identify and connect with real people and develop a growing relationship with God.

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?

Church hospitality is much the same. Feeling welcome is due largely in part to feeling comfortable and familiar – and first-time visitors don’t know how to find the restrooms, check their kids into the nursery, or get to the worship center.

And 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.

But active hospitality calls for action. It welcomes newcomers with people available to greet and help anyone entering your doors.

Information Gathering: When churches gather information, they often pleasantly find that they had more visitors than they realized.

And while hospitality is hard to quantify, gathered information is easy to measure. Churches that gather information will fuel their ministry opportunities and make each person feel more valued and known.

So 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.

Think of it like this: If hospitality is the heart of your system, subjective and qualitative by nature, then information gathering is its head, objective and quantifiable – and actionable with follow-up.

Follow-Up: 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. It will also help identify opportunities for pastoral ministry.

Follow-up helps the 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.

Connection: Many churches confuse attendance with connection. 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. Connection marks the end of assimilation and the beginning of discipleship.

People often connect to church when they develop meaningful relationships, and helping them connect at a deeper level in your church creates opportunities for responsibility and ownership.

Because when people feel that their church is intimately invested in them, they are more likely to sacrificially and intimately invest in their church – becoming members, givers, servers and volunteers, and ultimately, intentional disciples.

Every church – of every size – must have a process that supports a fully functioning system to ensure no one gets lost, left out or overlooked. Because while no data should ever be more significant than the people it represents, that data facilitates assimilation. And the more powerful your assimilation process, the more powerful your church will be.

When guests – new and returning – arrive, 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.

Because ultimately, we as church leaders are responsible for the people who come through our doors. 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.


Want to learn more about an effective assimilation process? Connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


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4 Areas That Drive Effective Church Assimilation

Every area of ministry in your church is enhanced when you focus on developing an effective assimilation process. Discipleship thrives because there’s a process in place to move people into a deeper relationship with Christ. Community flourishes because people feel connected. Overall church health improves because there’s a plan in place to help people continually grow.

While each church’s assimilation process is unique, there are certainly elements included in every process. Here are the four primary parts or processes that need inspection if you want to build an effective assimilation process in your church:

1. Hospitality

There are two elements to successful hospitality—passive hospitality and active hospitality. Passive hospitality includes directional signs and maps that make navigating the campus easier. Active hospitality involves real people who watch for ways to assist anyone entering the facility.

Are your volunteers trained and equipped to provide the kind of active hospitality needed to make first-time guests feel welcome?

2. Information Gathering

It is overwhelming when churches provide too many ways for the first-time visitor to connect. Don’t provide a catalog of options. Make it very simple and clear. Provide one or two primary options for taking the next step. As people move deeper, you can record more valuable information to increase the level of commitment.

Do you have a simple process for intentionally gathering information that helps you connect with every single person who walks through your doors on Sunday?

3. Follow Up

This doesn’t require a lot of creativity — simply follow up with your visitors and say hello. While this may seem too easy, it is important to evaluate your process regularly! Effective follow-up should help your members and visitors experience one-on-one ministry.

Is your follow-up process leading to more relational connections with the people in your church or are you letting people slip through the cracks?

4. Connection

This step is the end of assimilation and the beginning of discipleship. There should be a smooth handoff to someone who can guide people to go deeper in their relationship with God and their connection to the church. If you aren’t assimilating people, you will be increasing the number of spectators rather than growing strength in the Body of Christ through active disciples.

How are you moving people from visiting your church to becoming active members?

The difference between a church that has successful assimilation and one that doesn’t is how well these parts are working individually and collectively. If any of these four areas in your church’s assimilation process need a “tune up,” check out “The Assimilation Engine.” Effective assimilation can multiply your ministry efforts and maximize your Kingdom impact.

Is your church’s assimilation engine running well? What area needs the most improvement?

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Steve Caton

Steve Caton

Steve Caton is part of the Leadership Team at Church Community Builder. He leverages a unique background in technology, fundraising and church leadership to help local churches decentralize their processes and equip their people to be disciple makers. Steve is a contributing author on a number of websites, including the Vision Room, ChurchTech Today, Innovate for Jesus and the popular Church Community Builder Blog. He also co-wrote the eBook “Getting Disciple Making Right”. While technology is what Steve does on a daily basis, impacting and influencing the local church is what really matters to him……as well as enjoying deep Colorado powder with his wife and two sons!

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Creating Your Own Space for Gospel Hospitality

Recently, our church (Redeemer Presbyterian Church) embarked on a hugely ambitious capital campaign to purchase the first of several ministry center facilities in Manhattan, one of the most expensive real estate markets in the world. Why are we doing this?

It has become increasingly clear that this effort represents good stewardship. Hospitals and colleges in major cities have learned that it is considerably less expensive to conduct programs in owned facilities than in rented ones. For long-term stability and financial stewardship, we should acquire our own facilities.

Ultimately, however, the most exciting reason for purchasing a building has little to do with money. The most important reason for seeking to secure space in the city is gospel hospitality.

HOSPITALITY AND THIRD PLACES

In modern English, the word “hospitality” conveys little more than the word “entertaining” does, but in the Bible it is something important and radical (Romans 12:13; 1 Peter 4:9; Hebrews 13:2; 1 Timothy 3:2; and Titus 1:8). Contemporary Western culture leads us to think of the home as a private enclosure, only to be shared with a few intimates. The New Testament, on the other hand, calls Christians to see their homes as neither strictly private nor public space— but as places where we routinely share our homes’ safety and comfort as spaces to nurture others.

Hospitality incorporates newcomers into common, daily household activities—eating a meal, sharing a cup of coffee, or painting a room. The Greek word for hospitality—philoxenia—literally means the “love of strangers.” Christians are called to an attitude of welcome, not only toward other believers but also toward those who are currently outsiders to the faith.

In most of the neighborhoods where we are seeking property, young single professionals live in extremely tiny spaces. They would be glad for an urban space that welcomes them without trying to sell them something, and that could perhaps provide them with quiet space, a free wireless network, a place to meet others, food, and drink, as well as offering space for family activities and cultural events. We want to say to our neighbors, “This is not just our place; it is also your place.” In a location as suspicious and tough as Manhattan that message will probably take some time to get through – but that is the message.

>>Download the entire article by Tim Keller here as he unpacks the importance of Gospel Hospitality.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. He has also mentored young urban church planters and pastors in New York City and other cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cites to date.

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Gospel Hospitality

Hospitality is a forgotten art. It also has a lost biblical history. We can recover the art of hospitality by understanding what it is and discerning how the gospel changes our notions of hospitality. In general, hospitality is about treating strangers as equals by creating space for them to be protected, provided for, and taken care of, followed by assisting and guiding them to their next destination. Let’s see how this holds up to scripture.

The Origin of Hospitality

There is a lot of history to consider in understanding the act or art of hospitality, but it all goes back to the beginning. In Genesis 1-2, we discern God’s first hospitable act. Consider what God did when he created the world and the garden of Eden for humanity to live in it. He gave Adam and Eve all they needed to enjoy life restfully while doing the work He created them for. He gave them space to exist, to enjoy creation, and to enjoy each other and fellowship with Him. They were given both the space and the capability to create, to work, and to exercise authority, with all the resources necessary they needed.

Israel: God’s Hospitable People

Consider God’s commands to His people regarding hospitality to strangers (Lev 19:9-10, 33-34; Deut 10:18-19). Through Abraham and Sarah, God created a new nation – a People blessed to be a blessing to all nations. He gave them all the resources and capabilities to exercise hospitality to strangers, orphans, and widows. Similar to the Garden experience, Israel offered His people a place of refuge where others could rest and receive all they needed, enabling them to do what God had created them to do. However, now this rest came in the midst of a broken, sinful world.

On the flip side, think of the number of occasions where Israel found itself as the strangers among a host people. In some cases they found a hospitable reception (Egypt with Joseph in charge; the spies and Rahab). In other cases they found themselves treated like enemies or slaves (Slavery in Egypt; Babylonian Captivity). God had called them to be hospitable, yet they often failed to do so. After, receiving hospitality this must have become clearer to them.

God allows us to experience grace as recipients so that we might be distributors of grace to others.

God allows us to experience grace as recipients so that we might be distributors of grace to others. Hospitality toward Israel was a clear example of God’s gracious gift, once again, and should have motivated generous hospitality. Unfortunately, Israel failed to enter God’s rest because of their unbelief and disobedience (Heb 4). So, they not only failed to rest in the work of God, but also failed to offer that rest to other nations. In all their hospitable failures, they needed one who would fully rest in God in order to become an enduring place of refuge for others.

Rethinking Hospitality with Jesus

Jesus entered into a culture shaped by a variety of world views (The Imperial Cult, Jewish Monotheism, and Hellenistic Philosophy to name a few). In this culture, the concept of hospitality was rooted in several different traditions. First, the idea of taking in a hostile stranger or enemy and treating him as you would yourself. Second, the Greek practice of hospitality in which a stranger passing outside a Greek house would be invited inside the house by the family. The host washed the stranger’s feet and offered him/her food and wine. Only after the stranger was feeling comfortable, could the host ask his or her name. This practice stemmed from the thought that the gods mingled among men, and if you played a poor host to a deity, you would incur the wrath of a god.

A third shaping force in the concept of hospitality in Jesus’ day was the Hebrew understanding (as briefly considered in the passages above and demonstrated also in the story of Lot and the angels– Genesis 19). Jesus comes into this cultural context and calls the weary to himself, feeds the hungry, mends the broken, eats with sinners and tax collectors, washes his disciples’ feet…and ultimately gives his life to cleanse us from sin, deal with our unbelief and provide a way and place for us to rest. Jesus lives, loves, obeys, works, dies, and rises again so that we might find a place of rest, renewal and recreation. He offers us rest in order to send us on our way to be about God’s purposes – rescued to offer rest. Jesus saved us to be His Hospitable People!

3 Ways the Church Can be Hospitable

In light of the gospel, we might define hospitality as the creation of a space that allows people to BE themselves, to BECOME renewed, and to DO the works God has saved them for. When we properly exercise hospitality, we welcome people to be themselves in the warmth of the light of Christ, to become renewed by being changed by the work of Christ, and to do works we have been created for in Christ.

TO BE RESTED

In a broken world, marred and diseased by the effects of sin, people need the space to rest. This is why Jesus called people who were weary and heavy-laden to come to him. He would give them rest for their weary souls. Jesus calls us to rest in His work on our behalf so we can be a people at rest who provide sanctuaries of rest for others.

Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were naked and unashamed. God had created a place and made space for them to be themselves without covering or facades. If we are in Christ, we are clothed with His righteousness. We don’t need to cover up or hide. One of the ways we create space for people to experience and come to understand the gospel is by creating space for people to reveal their true self and see that they are loved regardless of the “wrinkles and scars” of sin. How do we create space for people to be their true self?

TO BECOME RENEWED

The gospel isn’t only about loving and forgiving sinners. It is also about restoring broken and marred people into healed and whole people who grow up to become imitators of Jesus Christ – restored image bearers of God. Jesus created space for people to be and to become (Think of Mary, Peter, Thomas, the woman at the well, the blind man, the paralyzed). Gospel hospitality implies creating space for people to be known, to be real, to be loved, and ultimately to be led with the Holy Spirit’s help to healing and wholeness through the work and person of Jesus Christ. How do we create space for people to be led toward healing and wholeness?

TO DO WORKS

The gospel moves from who God is and what Christ has done on our behalf into the works He created us to do (See Ephesians 2:8-10).

This is the result of Jesus’ gospel hospitality. He got on the same level with his enemy – becoming human. He became our servant – to the point of death. He spent all that He had in order to clean us up – by becoming our sin and giving us His righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). Then He sent us His Spirit to empower us to do good works for His sake so others could be welcomed in to the family. When we engage in gospel hospitality, we are regularly asking ourselves this question:

How do we create space for the stranger to be rested, restored, healed, and prepared in Jesus Christ for the work God has called them to?

Will you join God’s rich history of providing rest in order to extend rest? Remember, everything he has called you to do he has already done for you in Christ Jesus. You have everything you need to offer gospel hospitality to the strangers, friends, and even enemies around you.

 Read more from Jeff here.

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Jeff Vanderstelt

Jeff Vanderstelt is a pastor at Soma Communities, an Acts 29 church in Tacoma, WA. He coaches and trains church planters, serves on the Board of Acts 29, and leads the Soma movement in vision and teaching.

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Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
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What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

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10 Mind-Blowing Facts to Fuel Your Hospitality Ministry

Every month for the last decade, the Auxano team conducts ministry observations during weekend services. We call it the Guest Perspective Evaluation. Here is why I keep this strategic component in Auxano’s toolbox. Okay, each reality by itself may not be mind blowing, but when you put them all together the case is staggering and couldn’t be more compelling.

#1  You will have more guests in one year than you think. Our “information gathering” in churches doesn’t even capture the majority of guests.  Auxano research shows that five to eight percent of your worshipping community will self-identify as guests. Therefore the number of guests in one year is:

[ (Ave. weekly worship attendance) x (.05) x (52)]

#2 Many of your guests are going through situations that make them more responsive to God.  These are the folks that are most likely to be moving, changing jobs, getting divorced, having kids, etc.

#3  Your guests are assessing very quickly whether or not they are coming back. This happens much faster than we think. For example, read  The 11-Minute Difference.

#4  Your guests represent step one of accomplishing the Great Commission- these are the people coming to you!  How much does your church spend on foreign missions? Compare that to how much we invest into the fish that swim to the boat before we cast a net.

#5  A guest who is attending may represent years of prayer, service and invitation by a church member.  My mom and I attended church without my father for 12 years. The first time my Dad came to church with us, imagine how I felt about the church and the hospitality of the people. All I could think is “Don’t screw up!”

#6  Studies show that guests will talk about their initial experiences 8-15 times with other people. Serve guests well and multiply your message.

#7  A welcoming ministry is a great “shallow end of the pool” to get people involved in service for the first time. Yes, you have plenty of intimidating places to serve like worship, small groups and children’s ministry. So why not leverage an easy place to start?

#8  Building a great ministry to guests nourishes a culture of hospitality because of the concrete reminders to the entire congregation that guests matter.

#9 Investment in a welcoming ministry is an investment into every other ministry your church offers.  I ask churches to dream about what ministry they might start. I then tell them to get it done by first having great guest services. Do you want an amazing prison ministry? Maybe the next Chuck Colson is visiting next week.

#10 We are commanded in Scripture to be hospitable. The Greek word philoxenia literally means to “love strangers” and is used in Romans 12:13 and Hebrews 12:3.

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Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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KnowLiveShare — 11/01/12 11:16 pm

Great tips. My mind is blown. Our community invites new friends to serve first on our Greeting & Hospitality team as a way of getting to know people and begin a habit of serving together. Then, after a season of initial discipleship, they are able to serve in other areas according to their gifting.

Recent Comments
Sorry, the author of this content has removed the links at the original source!
 
— VRcurator
 
The hypertext link is broken for the pdf download - can it be fixed? Thanks!
 
— Steve Elliott
 
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.