Key No. 2: Small group involvement. A concerted effort is made to get members and attendees involved in small groups. The form of the group may be a Sunday School class, a home group or a small group meeting elsewhere. The key is to get people connected to others, typically in weekly groups. The majority of small groups study the Bible or biblically related material.
Key No. 3: Ministry/missions involvement. High assimilation churches encourage people to be involved in ministry. A few even require ministry involvement prior to accepting someone into membership. Members who are involved in missions and ministry feel connected to the church. The Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, will not likely stay with a church at all if they are not involved in the ministries and missions of the church.
Key No. 4: Relational connections. In any organization, people stay connected more to other people than the organization itself. We are relational creatures. Local congregations are no exceptions. People are more likely to stay connected to the church if they have developed meaningful friendships and relationships with others in the church.
If these four keys are the solution to assimilation problems, why do relatively few churches practice them? Simply stated, the solutions require hard work. Often getting people in the front door is easier than keeping them from leaving through the back door.
Also, some churches have established traditions of low expectations. Changing almost anything, particularly expectations of members, can be a challenge. Members who came into the church with low expectations often resist the change. Their desired comfort is greater than their concern for the overall health of the congregation.
Our most recent research indicates that the American population as a whole is not resistant to visiting a church. The potential for an open front door is good. The greater challenge may be closing the backdoor.
And that challenge can only be met if congregations are fundamentally willing to change their attitude of “we’ve never done it that way before.”