The process of getting a new member educated about your church, the theology and doctrine you adhere to, and how they can get plugged in may take a multitude of different paths. It depends on how each church and its staff choose to integrate new members into their church body. Some are on top of this process – and they have a well thought out plan in place for educating new members and getting them assimilated right away. Others may not.
I’ve seen churches with new member classes that are limited to one Sunday, while other new member classes are weeks long. So what is right for your church? What aspects of a new member class should you be including?
First, make sure that you have a new member class. Once every quarter, bring the new members who have joined in the last three months together. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re communicating to them well beforehand so they know when and where to meet, as well as the topics for discussion. The last thing you want is for new members to be under-informed or misinformed.
Some churches choose to hold their new member classes online. The advantage of this is getting new members plugged in to a small group right away, allowing them to develop new friendships. Plus, it’s just more convenient. New members can choose when they want to consume the content you’re asking them to review. Consider assigning new members reading material, or asking them to view videos that help them better understand the culture, mission and vision of your church.
Second, it’s always a good idea to involve your pastors in new member classes. Ideally, the class or classes themselves should be led by one of your pastoral staff members. Involving pastors will help set the tone right from the start. It also helps new members feel more welcomed because the pastor is involved. It also shows that the pastor is personally investing in the lives of new members. Often times, pastors are the ones who challenge people within the church to serve, give, and grow. Getting that message across from the very beginning will impact new members.
Third, a new member class is a great time for new members to meet other new members. They may or may not have joined on the same Sunday… chances are, they didn’t. Whenever new members feel led to join a new body of believers, developing personal relationships can be tough. It’s likely they know absolutely no one, so affording them the opportunity to fellowship with one another will help them develop new relationships.
Fourth, new member classes should highlight the many ministries of the church. If your goal is to assimilate new members as quickly as possible and see them be faithful servants, it’s your job to inform them of the many ministries in your church in which they can serve. Encourage them to consider leading a small group, volunteer in the children’s or student ministries, sing in the choir or be active in a food pantry ministry.
New members classes are extremely important as you strive to weave new people into the fabric of your church body. Don’t take the responsibility of educating them and encouraging them to get plugged in lightly. The more you pour into new members, the greater the chance you have of seeing them bear solid fruit in one or more ministries of your church body. For more assimilation tips, ideas, and how to’s, download our free ministry guide, Turning Attendees into Disciples.