NEW CONVERT VISITATION PROGRAM
When is a person fully assimilated into the life of the church? In some ways the question could be answered “never,” but such an answer does not assist congregational leaders in identifying a goal toward which to work. While not all of the following characteristics will be present in many assimilated members (at least to the fullest extent), it is safe to say that most of them will be.
1. An assimilated member identifies with the goals of the church.
2. An assimilated member is regular in worship attendance and in attendance at special services (Heb. 10:25).
3. An assimilated member attends Communion and Sunday school regularly and has Bible reading and family devotions in the home (Acts 2:42).
4. An assimilated member attends some special functions of the congregation, e. g. council meetings, church picnics, special workshops, midweek services.
5. An assimilated member is growing spiritually (2 Peter 3:18).
6. An assimilated member has affiliated with the congregation.
7. An assimilated member has a half dozen or more new friends in the church.
8. An assimilated member has a task or role appropriate to his or her spiritual gift(s) (Rom. 12; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4; 1 Peter 4:10-11).
9. An assimilated member is involved in a fellowship group (Acts 2:42).
10. An assimilated member gives regularly and generously (1 Cor. 16:2).
11. An assimilated member tells others about the Lord and His church (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8).
These 11 characteristics may also be considered a description of an active church member, a disciple of Christ, a Christian. They simply illustrate from another perspective the importance of friendships, the belief in a body of doctrine, and service to the body of Christ.
Identifying the Unassimilated
We have identified several key factors in the assimilation process: a. The importance of friends and
relatives; b. The importance of small groups; c. The importance of formal roles or offices; d. The importance of informal tasks or jobs.
To this we add a fifth factor: The importance of worship attendance.
While all new members need to be the object of a concerted congregational effort at assimilation, the principles enunciated thus far lend themselves to a broader application. Elders may well want to do some homework in the following areas.
Combining the five factors above in a chart that lists every communicant member of the congregation will enable a church, or its Assimilation Committee, to identify those members who are unassimilated, some of whom may have been members for many years. For congregations of larger size it is advisable to make a distinction between assimilation (before and during the first year of membership) and ministry to inactives (after the first year of membership).
While there are many suggested identification points for discovering the unassimilated, for practical reasons it is wise to concentrate on a few key factors.
The suggestion here is that those individuals receiving a checkmark in at least two of the four columns may be considered assimilated. A close look at the unassimilated will suggest certain approaches if most are single or retired or living some distance from the church or otherwise identifiable. At the same time, this approach will give the Assimilation Committee the opportunity to determine whether the new members they are working with are assimilated or not. If they choose to work with the first year of membership, then they can assess the degree of their success at the end of that year with the use of a chart such as this.
Needed to accomplish this task is one of three things: 100% participation from the membership in the assimilation of new members, a very active and successful sponsorship program, or one key person or committee in charge of the assimilation process.
The first of the three is unrealistic. The second and third suggestions are alternate or complementary ways of accomplishing the same task. The second way has been set forth in an earlier chapter. In the following pages we will discuss the third option.
The key person in charge of assimilation will receive the “Assimilation of New Members” sheets from the pastor or church office, appropriately filled out as to name, address, etc. It is the responsibility of this person to telephone the appropriate contact people at the right time (first month, second to third months, fourth to sixth months, seventh to twelfth months), giving them the name, address, and phone number of these new members.
The contact people will then visit, telephone, speak to at church, or perhaps in all three ways contact the new member. Then the contact person calls back the key person to indicate that it has been done. It may be necessary for the key person to call more than once to make sure that the work is being done. Encouragement may need to be provided in some instances. Often the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. When the work has been done, the key person writes in the date of completion in the space provided. When the sheet is completed, it is returned to the pastor, church office, or Assimilation Committee. The usefulness of a computer for these tasks is self-evident.
In the three pages that follow, the reader will receive a sample of materials that were actually used in a
congregational setting. Congregations will, of course, need to replace categories, names, and phone numbers. The list of assimilation activities might become quite lengthy in some churches. It is important to provide some balance – a continuing assimilation process that is not overwhelming to the new member(s).
Assimilation of New Members
Date of Membership: Phone:
Children’s Names & Ages:
During First Month Completed Responsible
1. Pastor-Elder Interview (visit) call Pastor, 825-4676
2. Sunday School Superintendent (call) Mrs. . . ., 825-2234
3. Church Secretary (call) 825-2765
4. Home Bible Study Invitation (call) Mr. . . ., 821-8773
5. Fellowship Club Invitation (call and/or talk to at church) Mrs. . . ., 527-3122
6. Youth Group (visit: if applicable) Miss. . . ., 527-0732
7. Prayer Chain Mrs. . . ., 825-2218
During Second and Third Months
8. Ladies Aid (visit: if applicable) Mrs. . . ., 822-1982
9. Choir Director (call and/or talk to at church) Mrs. . . ., 821-8773
10. Voters’ Assembly (call) Mrs. . . ., Sec’y., 343-7104
11. Friendship Visits (visit) Mr. . . ., 394-1760
During Fourth to Sixth Months
12. Men’s Softball Team (call) Mr. . . ., 781-5098
13. Men’s Dartball Team (call) Mr. . . ., 825-4721
14. Elder Visit
Mr. . ., 527-2609
Mr. . ., 527-5128
Mr. . ., 225-3437
Mr. . ., 527-3122
15. Pastoral Visit Pastor, 825-4676
During Seventh to Twelfth Months
16. Friendship Visits (visit) Mr. . ., 394-1760
17. Elder Visit (see #14)
Explanation for “Assimilation of New Members”
Within each time limit, contact the appropriate persons by phone, giving the necessary information for them to make their contact. Tell them how long they have to carry out their task, and ask them to call you back when they have completed it. If they do not call you back within the allotted time, call them and gently encourage them to do as they have been asked. When the task is completed, write in the date.
1. Often completed before the family or individual joins the church.
2. If children in family are three years old or older, enrollment procedure is explained and minimum age is given.
Superintendent invites family to enroll children and bring them regularly. Information about the adult Bible class is also given.
3. Whether Mrs. wants to be on the nursery attendant list for the 10:30 service only, and Altar Guild. Whether Mr. wishes to usher (also teen-age sons). Explanation of the various adult Bible classes on Sunday mornings. Request for various forms to be returned to the church office.
4. No comment necessary. Self-explanatory.
5. General information, specific invitation to next activity, information about new member potluck next fall for all those who have joined within the past twelve months.
6. No comment necessary.
7. To be prayed for by Prayer Chain for remainder of current month.
8. No comment necessary.
9. No comment necessary.
10. Voters meet second Monday of January, April, June, August, and November; must be 18 years of age (male or female) and attend two regular meetings to become a voter; able to vote upon acceptance at second meeting.
11. Make friendly visit to get acquainted.
12. No comment necessary.
13. No comment necessary.
14. Appropriate elder should be circled. If not, call pastor and ask.
15. No comment necessary.
16. Same as No. 11.
17. Same as No. 14.
From time to time it will become necessary to make additions, deletions, and corrections to the list. Simply make those corrections and incorporate any additions, until the form is revised and reprinted. God bless you, as you use this instrument to the glory of Jesus’ name.