4 Questions You Might Be Asking About Assimilation

Written by  //  July 20, 2012  //  Church Software  //  6 Comments

According toMerriam Webster, the definition of Assimilation is, “to make similar.” A common trend in church software is the ability to include an assimilation process and is one of the most talked about topics among church leaders at church meetings.

Here are some typical questions:

  1. How do we get more visitors to become members?
  2. How do we increase the number of visitors each week?
  3. What is the “end goal” of the organization – is it to fill the seats on a Sunday morning or to see a spiritual transformation in people?
  4. Is the organization accomplishing its mission with its current resources?

Webster’s definition does not describe what the church is trying to do.

If a church is trying to make individuals similar or assume people are similar, they will ultimately fail. Why – because everyone is unique in their own spiritual transformation journey. The individuality of a person transcends from the first time attendee to a 50 year church member. It is important that the church should keep their focus on the individuals first and not numbers (eg: membership or contribution statistics). We thank Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Church, 1995) for providing the initial basis of the following definition of assimilation within the church :

The task of moving people from an awareness of your church to active membership and participation in your church.

One question to ask is: “Do we want church assimilation or spiritual transformation?” Looking at assimilation in this manner shows that it is only one part in helping someone through their spiritual journey. An organization would wither without assimilation however, the TRUE end goal is spiritual transformation. True spiritual transformation is the key to having a healthy active membership and participation from its members.

So how do we move people from simply being aware of a church to actively participating in the overall mission?

Now that we have outlined the role of the assimilation process and defined the church’s end goal, let’s discuss how to accomplish those goals. Warren’s definition of assimilation suggests people must participate, or in other words connect with each other in order to accomplish the church’s overall mission which promotes a personal spiritual transformation.

Software is one way to track individual movement from one phase to another, however it is not a silver bullet when the church has no defined process for spiritual transformation. Software flexibility that allows the church various ways of moving people to active participation is the key. Unfortunately, many software products provide a one “path of assimilation” fits all approach – incorrectly assuming that each church’s approach to assimilation is the same. Consequently, they also assume each individual follows the same spiritual journey and will fit into a one size fits all model.

Lets look at this another way – did you and your friends all come to their beliefs in the same way? – Probably not, so wouldn’t the path be different for each of them? Churches are unique and develop their own processes to bring people into the fold that come from different walks of life. Software must accommodate these different individual paths and help churches facilitate the defined processes that the church leadership has determined is best.

IconCMO facilitates different ways a church can track visitors and current members which helps each individual in their own spiritual journey.

About the Author

Lauren Hunter is a freelance writer, consultant and blogger who loves the Lord and desires to encourage churches to better use technology to improve every aspect of ministry. Her blog, ChurchTechToday, was born out of a need to find a place to discuss how technology can impact the Church in positive ways.

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6 Comments on "4 Questions You Might Be Asking About Assimilation"

  1. John Finkelde July 21, 2012 at 2:50 am · Reply

    Some churches do assimilation brilliantly. They model the love of Christ thru hospitality & kindness to new people. Unfortunately they are in the minority & I’m sure it is because they have forgotten what it is like to be a first time visitor

    • Lauren Hunter July 23, 2012 at 8:42 am · Reply

      So true, John! I love the Outreach Magazine “Mystery Visitor” column near the back of the magazine where an anonymous visitor checks out a new church and writes about their experience. It’s very eye opening!

  2. Jerry Edmonds July 21, 2012 at 1:20 pm · Reply

    The body of Christ is about unity, not uniformity. Oneness in diversity. Getting people connected as soon as possible fosters the move toward belonging. Belonging to something because you understand how integral you are as a unique part of the whole encourages continued participation.

    The failure of many churches is to see how another church is assimilating, or even ministering, and wrongly assuming that “what worked for them will work for us.” Warren makes some very good points regarding this, and tells you straight up that you cannot carbon copy Saddleback (or any church) and expect the same results.

    Understanding that it is impossible to successfully assimilate everyone in the same way that another church does, and that it is just as impossible to assimilate everyone in your church following identical procedures, leads a church to plug people in by more relevant and effective methods. I see how having a way of tracking & maintaining this info would be very helpful.

    • Lauren Hunter July 23, 2012 at 8:39 am · Reply

      Hi Jerry,

      Thanks for your comments. Appreciate your insight!


  3. laurenhunter July 23, 2012 at 11:16 am · Reply

    So true, John! I love the Outreach Magazine “Mystery Visitor” column near the back of the magazine where an anonymous visitor checks out a new church and writes about their experience. It’s very eye opening!

  4. laurenhunter July 23, 2012 at 11:17 am · Reply

    Hi Jerry,

    Thanks for your comments. Appreciate your insight!


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