Five Keys to Effective Assimilation

First Consider...

  • Effective assimilation starts in the beginning, not the end.
  • Hospitality is biblical. Make sure your members understand why hospitality is essential.
  • Hospitality is active, not passive.
  • Hospitality is rolling out the red carpet.
  • Hospitality is an attitude.
  • Hospitality is an atmosphere.
  • Hospitality is an action.
  • Terminology is important: guests vs. visitors.
  • Assimilation vs. connection
  • Evangelism vs. inviting

1. Train your members.
Is the leadership qualified? The extrovert is not always the best person to be in charge. Use spiritual gifts test to determine who needs to serve where. “The church exists primarily for the benefit of its non-members.” Going the extra mile. User-friendly. Is the congregation warm and welcoming? 

Mark Middleburg – “Contagious Christian” 

Andy Stanley – “Go Fish” 

Bill Hybels – “Just Walk Across the Room” 

2. Develop your welcome and hospitality systems.

  • Is there a greeter at every entrance? 
  • Worship is not the only connection point -- Support groups. 
  • Greeters should make eye contact and/or touch contact. 
  • Do greeters have badges? 
  • Are they trained to answer questions? 
  • Do you have section greeters? These notice visitors and missing members. 
  • Do you have a welcome/information center? Where are volunteers standing? (out front is more friendly than behind the table) 
  • Are signs clearly visible? Are they attractive? 
  • Do volunteers show guests where to go? 
  • Greeters = concierges 
  • “Fish Philosophy” (www.charthouse.com) = created at Pike’s Place Fish Market (Seattle); 
    • 1) make their day, 
    • 2) be there, 
    • 3) choose your attitude, 
    • 4) play/pray – train your greeters in this philosophy. 
  • Do you have up-to-date, well-stocked information racks? 
  • Do you have a video presentation showing on screens? 
  • Do you have a guest packet? What’s in the packet? 
  • Do you have a guest gift? How do they get it? 
  • Ushers should also be hospitable, friendly, and well-informed. 
  • How do you handle late-comers? 
  • Do you use name tags? Is it working? (after about 2,000+ it doesn’t work) *DON’T badge your guests unless everyone is wearing one. Have staff, ushers, and greeters wear name badges. 
  • Are your small groups friendly and welcoming? 
  • Are small group leaders trained in welcoming guests?  
  • Is there guest information on your website (Where to park, where to go, times and days for ministries, etc.) If you have multiple worship styles, are they listed? 
  • Vision statement should be on everything handed out. 
  • Don’t assume guests know about communion, the Lord’s Prayer, etc. Spell these things out. 
  • Provide children’s worship bulletins. 
  • How do you track guests? What is on your contact forms? Only put things on there you are going to use. Most important information should be listed at the top. 
  • Everyone wants to feel welcome, but not singled out.

Suggestion: Andrew Ministry – for those with the gift of hospitality; recruited and trained; volunteers are given spiritual gifts test; day-long retreat once a year; assigned to new members and third time guests; team leaders are in charge of a team; volunteers serve once a month. They staff welcome center, give church tours, show people where to go, answer phones on Sunday morning, care for new members, and clean sanctuary after morning worship services. Volunteers work in shifts, so they still attend a worship service.

3. Post welcome and hospitality systems.

  • Do you have anything scheduled after the service for your guests? 
  • Do you have a gift? 
  • Don’t forget about children and teenagers. 
  • Do you have a “meet-and-greet the pastor” time? How do you facilitate this?

4. Focus on guest follow-up systems.

  • What’s done with guest info? 
  • How do you enter it? 
  • Follow-up within 48-72 hours.
  • Follow-up on out-of-town guests. 
  •  Will guests receive a letter or email? 
  • Pray over letters or cards sent to first time guests. 

5. Map out all your systems.

  • What is everyone’s role? 
  • Where are the gaps?