How many guests have you had in the last month? Over the last year?
Each of those guests was a gift to you from God. Did your response show your appreciation? Did you have a plan in place to integrate them into the life of your church?
Do you have a plan for the ones he sends next week?
God gives you and me the gifts we call first-time guests freely and strategically. He expects us to handle what we’ve been given with similar strategic care. First-time guests are full of potential. As God brings them through our doors, our prayerfully planned reciprocation can result in changed lives for the Kingdom.
God has set up the perfect win-win scenario. He is bringing us the new faces. Our responsibility is to show our gratitude and commitment by doing our part to turn those new faces into new fully developing members.
ASSIMILATION = LIFE TRANSFORMATION
In broad terms, Assimilation can be defined as the process used to encourage your first-time guests to continue coming back until they see and understand God’s power, accept Jesus as their Savior and commit themselves to the local church through membership. Assimilation leads to life transformation by giving people the means and opportunity to become maturing followers of Christ.
As you think about the Power of Assimilation, consider Paul’s example. Paul’s heart-cry for the Galatians was that Christ would be fully formed in their lives. Everything he did for them and all of his exhortation was with that one purpose in mind.
Do you have the same passion for your church? For your community? Isn’t that why you went into ministry in the first place? When God called you to serve him, did he call you to maintain the status quo or did he call you to see that Christ would be truly revealed and reflected through the lives of those he would entrust to your care?
The majority of people who visit a church do not come to faith in Christ on their first visit — or their second or third. Instead, continued interaction with God’s people, teaching from the Bible and involvement in volunteer opportunities all work together to open unchurched hearts to the good news of Jesus Christ.
Encouraging people to stick around our churches is not about making our auditoriums look full and our numbers impressive; it’s about leading them to faith in Jesus. Putting a strong, strategic Assimilation system in place is the best way to ensure that our newcomers will stay with us long enough to respond to Christ’s pull.
A NUMBERS GAME
I’m sure you know how the critics think: To those of us who advocate filling healthy, growing churches, it’s all about the numbers, right?
The critics are right to an extent: We do care about numbers. Why? Because every number represents a life.
In a healthy Assimilation system, the number of new members you have reflects the number of new lives in your church that belong to Christ. Your regular attenders represent people in the process of becoming fully developing followers of Jesus. Your guest count gauges the effectiveness of your evangelism and outreach. When grounded in the right perspective, numbers are an indication of life change. They are a testimony that God is at work.
Not one person who comes through your doors comes haphazardly. By sending a guest to you, God is giving you the privilege of cooperating with him to move someone forward in his or her journey toward Jesus. When you have a clear plan in place to make your guest feel welcome, to encourage the person to return as a second-time guest, to keep that individual coming as a regular attender, to see the person accept Jesus and to decide to commit him- or herself to your church through membership, then do you get to include that person in your number count? Well, only as a byproduct.
More importantly, you get to rejoice over another person saying yes to God’s will for his or her life. You get to glorify God with another person who came to you unchurched and now wants to commit to the local fellowship.
That and that alone is why we Assimilate.
- My revised & expanded best-selling book, Fusion: Turning First-Time Guests Into Fully Engaged Members of Your Church — click here to grab your copy on Amazon!
- Free E-book: How to Make a Great First-Time Guest Impression E-Book ($23.95 value) — click here to access it
- And my updated & expanded comprehensive resource, The Assimilation Seminar — click here to check it out
These resources offer a biblically grounded, proven plan for establishing a relationship with newcomers that ultimately prompts them to become fully developing members of our congregations.
Be sure to have a plan in place to assimilate the first-time gifts that God sends your way each week.
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