Establishing an Assimilation Plan – Part 3

To continue my series of posts on Assimilation, we’ll be looking at the final three steps, COLLECTION, CONNECTION, and COMMITMENT.  To see the previous two steps see my earlier posts on CONTEXT and CREATION.

STEP THREE – Collection

  • Once a person is seated, now they are more prepared to enjoy the service.  Remember to keep the guest in mind in all that you’re doing and saying in the service.
  • To help this first-time guest connect with the church and what it offers, there has to be information gathered at some point.

    • The primary means to do this is through a connection card/tear-off.  This may be a card, a tear-off from the bulletin or even part of a friendship pad/booklet that is passed.  However it is done, this is key.
    • Provide a time in the service when guests/regular attenders are filling out this card.  If you don’t provide the intentional time, the majority of people will not fill it out.
    • Give compelling motivation to turn the card in.
      • Whatever the means to collecting this card, make sure guests have some incentive to turn it in.

STEP FOUR – Connection

  • Now that you’ve collected all the necessary info, you want to establish a good follow-up process. This step is key, because without follow-up, collecting the information is useless.
  • Before actual follow-up takes place, you want to plug the information into a church database.
  • This follow-up should be “Fast, Friendly, and Functional” (Fusion, 87)
  • Post-Service Follow-up
    • Once the service is over, you need some way to connect with new guests.  As was mentioned above, a connection card will help you collect information, but you also want to at least provide opportunity for them to connect with a person.  Not every person will want this, but make it available.
    • In order to do this, you need to have a Guest/Information Center (‘Info Central’) that is manned by friendly, welcoming individuals ready to meet, greet and answer any questions guests might have.
  • Post-Weekend Follow-up
    • In order to be most effective in this step of the follow-up process, make sure you have a capable staff member/volunteer taking the lead with this area.  Their goal is to not only follow-through with this process, but to develop a reliable team of volunteers to help.
    • Your goal with the post-weekend follow-up is to help guests see that they are valued and are a priority.  In order to do this, you want to follow-up in two ways:
      • 36 Hour Email – This email accomplishes a few things:

        • This follow-up is most effective for communities/churches where the majority of attenders/guests utilize email.  If this is not the case, go to the next form of follow-up with the ‘Follow-up Card’. (see below)
        • Helps guest see that you appreciated them attending and then invite them back the next Sunday.
        • This email should be sent on Monday between 2:00-3:00pm.  This is the optimal time for someone to receive an email as it doesn’t get lost in the weekend emails.
      • Follow-up Card – Here’s a few items concerning this next step in follow-up:

        • This should be sent by Tuesday at the latest.  Your goal is that they receive the card by Thursday of that week.
        • Make sure the greeting card/post card is somehow abnormally shaped.  You don’t want it to be in an envelope that blends in with all the bills or other items in their mail.  This will cause it to stand out and catch the eye of the recipient.
        • This is another opportunity to provide your  guest with a ‘nice surprise’.
        • Have a handwritten note from the pastor in a greeting card or on the back of a postcard.  (Stay away from stock letters that are impersonal.  Make this as functional, but personal as possible.  Your goal is that guests feel noticed and valued.)

STEP FIVE – Commitment

  • As mentioned above, once a guest attends two times, you want to start to connect them with some clear next steps.  Below I outline what those next steps could be:
    • Spiritual Breakthrough Weekend (SBW)

      • This is a time for new believers to experience freedom from their hurts, habits and hangups.  This is a program that was developed by Jeff Leake and is an incredible first step for people.
      • This is the first step in your membership process.
    • Small Groups
      • Provide clear entry points for guests.  (Where do they get info about the small groups? How do they join a small group?  When is the best time to join a small group?)
    • Water Baptism
      • You want to have clear scheduled times for this each year.  This provides clarity for attenders so they know when each year water baptisms will take place.  Clarity helps to create movement through your discipleship process.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’ve only shared a portion of the total process I’ve compiled for the sake of simplicity.  If you would like the detailed process, you can email me at nickp@mcmnetwork.org.

To finish my series of posts on Assimilation, tomorrow I will be posting an interview with Debbie Lynch, the director of the assimilation process at Allison Park Church. She has been working in this field for over 18 years and has a lot of wisdom to share, you won’t want to miss it!

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