The Top Three Assimilation Mistakes

Nelson Searcy hosted and led a webinar on January 25, 2011. I’m familiar with his book called Fusion, where he outlines the assimilation process at the Journey Church in NYC. At King’s Grant we moved toward the phrase Connection Process, because my people were unfamiliar with the term “assimilation” relating to the church. I used his information and elaborated with KGBC specific information.


  1. “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” — Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Lady Windermere’s Fan, 1892, Act III
  2. “Mistakes are the portals of discovery.” — James Joyce (1882-1941)
  3. “If I had my life to live over… I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.” — Nadine Stair
  4. “Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams, ‘The Dilbert Principle’
  5. “If I had to live my life again, I’d make the same mistakes, only sooner.” — Tallulah Bankhead (1903-1968)
  6. “All men make mistakes, but only wise men learn from their mistakes.” — Winston Churchill (1874-1965)
  7. “People say ‘no’ to what is confusing.” — Nelson Searcy

Why Avoid Mistakes?

  1. To keep people from falling through the cracks.
  2. To reach people for Christ (evangelism).
  3. To grow the church.
  4. To become a friendly church.
  5. To grow your people (discipleship).
  6. God commands it; to grow the church and grow leaders.

Mistake #1 – Poor or No Follow up with First Time Guests
They say that common sense is not common practice. Fruit is in the follow-up. There is no way to follow up if we do not gather information. Much of this webinar focused on the Fusion process.

  1. Collecting information on the Connection Card.
  2. E-mail contact – sent within 36 hours (thanks, come again, praying for you, invitation to feedback).
  3. Letter contact – received within 96 hours (hand-written, by senior pastor, on note-sized stationary, hand addressed, with first class stamp, thanks, come again, praying for you, include the gift card).
  4. Stop sending form letters.
  5. A-B-C Mail Pile Theory:
    1. C = circulars, junk mail, right to the trash.
    2. B = magazines, bills, not urgent, will set aside to review later.
    3. A = open immediately, hand written address, personal sized envelop, wow-factor.

Mistake #2 – An Under-developed Theology of Hospitality
This primarily comes when we forget how a first time guest feels arriving at an unfamiliar place. They are not familiar with where to park, where to enter the building, what to do with their children, where to locate a restroom. The first time guest needs to be directed from the street to their seat. Emphasize they need to be:

  1. Greeted properly, the law of the first seven minutes.
  2. Directed properly, like to the children’s area, the sanctuary, the rest rooms.
  3. Treated properly, with respect and thoughtfulness.
  4. Seated properly, escorted in, introduced to others.

Insiders vs. Outsiders: the church may believe they are already a friendly church, but only if you are an insider. Outsiders feel like they are coming to someone else’s family reunion.

  1. The language is unfamiliar (sanctuary, Harvest Hall, bulletin, church language).
  2. The procedures are unfamiliar (where to sit, when to stand, when to use the hymnal, what to do with the Connection Card).
  3. This leads to less salvations and spiritual growth than God intends.

The Eight Systems of a Church: assimilation effects all the other systems of the church.

  1. Evangelism: learn how to attract a crowd to worship every week.
  2. Assimilation: learn how to move people from first-time guests to membership in your church.
  3. Worship Planning: learn how to plan, implement and evaluate the weekend services at your church to bring people to Christ.
  4. Small Groups: learn how to fill and produce small groups in your church.
  5. Ministry: learn how to mobilize people for significant ministry.
  6. Stewardship: learn how to disciple extravagant givers in your church.
  7. Leadership: learn how to develop leaders at all levels of your church.
  8. Strategy: learn how to constantly evaluate and improve your church.

Hospitality in Diagram:

Mistake #3 – An Unclear Assimilation Process

The process must be written. One must be able to explain it to others. People say “no” to what is confusing. It’s not that they don’t want to visit again, or join, but that they are unsure what the next steps may be.

Guest Ratio:

  • 3:100 (three guests per 100 members) = staying even, due to attrition, deaths, people moving, people becoming dissatisfied.
  • 5:100 = able to grow.
  • 7:100 = optimal growth.

The Principle of Spiritual Readiness: God will not give us those whom we are not prepared to receive.
My preparation precedes God’s blessing. We want to receive first.
Like saying to the stove, “if you give me heat, I’ll fill you with wood.”
Like a farmer saying, “if you send me a crop, I will sow the seeds.”

The Connection Process at King’s Grant:

The spaces between the blocks are for emphasis:

  1. Return: from first time guest to second time guest (get people to come back).
  2. Relationship: from second time guest to regular attendee (get people into smaller groups).
  3. Responsibility: from regular s=attendee to fully devoted member (get people to exercise their giftedness).

Mistake #4 – the Pastor Abdicates Assimilation to Someone Else

This was the bonus mistake for making it through the full hour. The difference between abdication and delegation: Abdication is to cast off and relinquish formally, while delegation is the act of empowering another to act. The pastor cannot wash his hands of the process, buy the kit and tell a staff member to simply do it. The pastor leads this process, emphasizing the importance of the process, and by actively investing himself within the process.

  1. Searcy emphasizes the hand-written notes from the senior pastor, the one who was the teaching pastor that morning. He does the first 30 himself, and then gets a staffer with a similar penmanship to write with him.
  2. Prepare for double the guests than you expect, showing an anticipation that God is going to bring people your way. This is the principle of expectation and readiness.
  3. Grow as a leader, schedule the next seminar. Leaders and readers, find out what others are doing and adapt it to your situation, don’t spend all your time reinventing the wheel.

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