An Individual’s Perspective on New Convert Assimilation
By Keith Wilkinson
You don’t know me, but I live in your neighborhood. Church? Not me. Well, at least, I didn’t think so. I had my Top 10 Reasons for not going to church. They are:
10. The pastor didn’t respond to my remote control.
9. Three letters: N-F-L.
8. I don’t have kids yet.
7. I have kids.
6. People that happy give me the creeps.
5. Last time I knelt I had a hard time getting back up.
4. I’m a good person (and I want to avoid hearing otherwise).
3. I prefer crunchy chips to those crackers they pass out.
2. When I want to feel guilty I just call my family.
1. I haven’t tried church.
Well, guess what! I went and something happened that I didn’t expect: I trusted Jesus with my life and God forgave me. It really was an awesome experience.
Baptism was a neat experience, even though a little frightening; there was a lot of water. But I felt that by taking this step I was making a significant statement about following Jesus.
Now the people are getting me involved. It is something called “assimilation.” Getting involved is more complicated than I ever imagined.
First was the New Member Class. About four of us who were new Christians or new church members meet together. We learned about the Bible, about what it means to be a Christian, and about our church. At that time I didn’t even own a Bible. The leader was really good about helping me get started.
Second was my Bible study group. I think they call it Sunday School. Anyway, the group is mostly people my age. In fact, it was a guy from the class who came to visit and invite me to church in the first place. He has really encouraged me.
We are welcomed by class greeters every time we come. They even have name tags for everyone. Usually, the class does some kind of get-acquainted activity to get us started. It was fun, and we learn new things about each other. It really helped us get to know everybody’s name. It took a few times before I felt comfortable enough to say anything.
Third were the Bible study groups for our children. At first, we weren’t sure about leaving our children with strangers. But the teachers seemed thrilled to have them. They made us aware that our children’s safety is a priority. Mostly, we found that our children loved learning with them.
Fourth were the social events with people our age and with others. It seems we were invited to something about every month or so. We came to enjoy being with people who could have fun just being together.
Fifth was feeling needed by doing things for other people. My encourager friend asked me to help on Saturday with a children’s basketball tournament. I love sports so it was great to see so many kids learning to play. My wife will help with a preschool project next week.
Sixth was the great communication we got from the church. We felt that we knew what was going on because of the newsletter and notes from friends.
Seventh, and maybe most important, was my new friend and mentor. He just seemed to attach himself to us and really helped us to get started. No question was too dumb. He was right there when we needed him. It was always great to see his family every week at Bible study.
There is one other thing, but I didn’t know it was happening at the time. It seems every time we attended our Bible study group, someone kept a record of it. When we missed, someone from the group always contacted us. I didn’t think much about it at the time. Now I know the class was making sure everyone felt valued. We knew we were missed. I was impressed with their record-keeping.
That’s how we got assimilated. I didn’t know there was such a word. From my perspective, I admit that I might not have kept at this Christianity thing had it not been for help from a lot of people.
“An Individual’s Perspective on Assimilation.” By Keith Wilkinson.
“This article may not be written by an Apostolic author, but it contains many excellent principles and concepts that can be adapted to most churches. As the old saying goes, “Eat the meat. Throw away the bones.”