(This series has been updated and expanded upon here: The Five Elements of a Fully Implemented Connections Strategy)
The ministries of our churches exist to make disciples of all people everywhere. Incredibly, so few churches have a comprehensive strategy to connect the very guests that walk into our buildings to the ministries that exist for them! This series breaks down the five essential elements every church much bring together to build a system that doesn’t just connect with people, but draws them into relationships with the church and ultimately Jesus Christ. / Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five
The Assimilation Process is successful when it accomplishes the goal of connecting people in community, and into the heartbeat of the church. Aside from building relationships in a community of other believers, we are called to serve others as we make disciples of all nations. Here are some ways to invite guests and regular attendees to serve together in our mission to make disciples.
Clear Next Steps. First of all, having great opportunities isn’t effective when people don’t know what to do or how to begin. Having a clearly understood set of next steps is crucial to any assimilation process. If you don’t take the time to be excellent here, you’re going to lose people that would love to join you. Some tips for clear next steps: Don’t spring things last minute, and take the time to promote the most important things. Don’t flood people with information but stay focused on one or maybe two different opportunities at the most. Tell people EXACTLY what they need to do, how, and when, and repeat it many times, using printed materials, electronic media, spoken words from the stage, and creative promotional pieces; you want to cover everyone’s listening and learning style. Do not allow for anyone to be confused; it may make sense to you, but you’re not the one we’re promoting to…
A Visible Presence. Some churches showcase core ministries in their main Atrium or entryway, with key leaders present all day Sunday to meet people and ask questions. The goal here is obvious: knowing a ministry exists isn’t the point, and this opportunity to connect face to face is a big assimilation and recruitment piece. Small group ministries and Missions departments are two common examples that churches tend to give a consistent visual and personal presence in the church.
Offer Opportunities. Every church has places for people to serve, but getting the word out isn’t always something a church is good at. Church ministries naturally focus inward to be the best they possibly can, even in the healthiest and most unified churches. As a result, recruiting volunteers can be done in isolation, with each ministry department shouting at once to attract much needed leadership and volunteers. However, a fully implemented Assimilation process can promote serving and provide a complete presentation of all the personnel needs in the church along with clear next steps and ministry contact information. If the church is intentional about calling people to serve, the ministries within the church can struggle with how to utilize all the new volunteers, instead of how to find them.
Pastoral Invitation. Whatever the boss says is most important, is most important. And it has to be one or two things. If it is a bunch of things, none of them end up being very important. Everyone else can promote and champion a ministry all they want, but the senior pastor is the voice that really matters at church. If he says serving in Children’s ministry is the most important way to serve every Sunday all year, then you’re church will have the biggest volunteer children’s staff in town before long. If he says being in a small group is the most important thing, then that is where the momentum will be. But if he says it is small groups, and this other thing, and going to this event, and also doing this other thing, then none of these things become the focus. If your pastor calls people to serve, and there is a clear set of next steps to do so, then serving will be the culture of your church.
Special Church-Wide Events. Large scale outreaches and events utilize ministry teams to accomplish goals and are a great way to pair new faces with existing teams. Large events are impressive because they involve so many people and have larger goals than small events by individual teams. Large events are a great opportunity to spend a lot of time in advance explaining clear next steps and illustrating the desired goal of the event. Take advantage of your large events to connect new people into your ministries and small groups. That’s a huge reason to have the events in the first place.