Churches monitor many different metrics to determine the health of their church. Tithes and offerings, baptisms, new members, the number involved in small groups, and the number of volunteers are just a few. But what metric directly impacts the spiritual strength and depth of your church culture? It’s assimilation.
Think about this. What good are customers to a business unless they come back time and time again? If you were to eat at a restaurant and you didn’t have a pleasant experience, it is unlikely you’ll return. Restaurants want to reach the masses, but those masses need to come back in order for the restaurant to be successful. Businesses don’t survive on one-time business. The health of your church should be measured by the strength of your member retention, not by how fast you can gain new members. Congregations where members are constantly coming and going will not have a chance to ever connect or build community. Making sure your new members are fully assimilated will do nothing but strengthen your church as it grows.
So how do you know if your church is succeeding at assimilation? Ask yourself this question. Do you have a strategy for welcoming and integrating new members? Do first-time guests want to come back for more because they had a positive experience or are they going to be a one-time “customer”?
1) Start by developing a strategy that will work to integrate individuals and families into the fabric of your church. Your goals should always be rooted in Scripture and point back to Jesus. First and foremost, the goal should always be to turn new visitors into members and, ultimately, into disciple-making disciples. Consider your first impression, check in and follow up with new members. If new members feel like their church is organized and dedicated to communication and the nurturing of her members, they will feel more comfortable and be more likely to return and become involved. Consider ways that you can build community among your congregation in which new members will feel just as included and involved as established members who have been in the church for many years.
2) How do you implement your strategy? Once you have a strategy mapped out, it will be much easier to see your goals come to fruition. Create a welcoming environment. Pray for your congregation and community during your worship services. Pray for other neighboring churches. Communicate to your congregation effectively. Encourage dialogue between church leaders and the members. Actively encourage members to make connections with each other to develop a strong bond of community. In fact, you can use your ChMS (Church Management Software) to plan events, organize and institute new small groups and keep your congregation better connected to one another. Lastly, invite people back! Make sure visitors know how much you care about their spiritual health and maturity as they grow as disciples.
3) Is your strategy working? Track the success of the metrics you measure with your ChMS. Tracking metrics isn’t just for restaurants or businesses. It’s a great way to measure the success of your church to identify areas for improvement. Some suggested metrics to measure include:
• Weekly attendance
• Volunteer participation
• Website traffic
• Social interaction
• Tithes and offerings
• Event attendance and participation
• Ministry involvement
• Attrition Rates
Put this data to work! Use it to find and fill the holes in your strategy and management of your strategy. What areas or metrics fall below key performance indicators and why? What is working and what isn’t? What can you do or what strategies can you implement that will improve these metrics? It’s important to recognize what works well for your church and stick with it. Don’t try to fix something that isn’t broken.
With a well organized and implemented strategy, your church can effectively welcome new members and assimilate them into the community of your congregation of believers rather than passively hoping that they decide to come back and stay involved.