Assure and Monitor Assimilation
Assimilation is defined by Webster as "taking something in and making it a part of oneself." Assimilation
in the church is that process which makes new members an accepted, valued, comfortable part of the church
as perceived by themselves. The pastor of a growing church must plug this process into his busy schedule to
assure that it happens. Otherwise the church becomes like a revolving door at a downtown department store
with people coming in and people going out. The front door is open, and so is the back door. There is a
"welcome in" mat at the front door, and oftentimes there is a perceived "welcome out" mat at the back door.
Get the picture. The back gate is closed, but sheep are escaping over, under, and through the backyard fence.
Assimilation has as its task to close the back door and shore up the sagging back yard fence. Hardaway says
"The relationship of a member to his or her church is much like a marriage, except that the decision to break
off or continue the relationship rests primarily in the hands of only one party. Using this perspective, the
assimilation process can be seen as the engagement."
The Process of Assimilation
The process of assimilation engages the church and the new member in the "honeymoon period." Marriage
fails when the bride and bridegroom fail to communicate effectively during the honeymoon period. Marriage
also fails when the marriage parties do not address the expectations of the marriage during the honeymoon
period. In the process of church assimilation, the burden of responsibility falls entirely on one party, the
church. The church must immediately address the expectations and needs of the newcomer or failure results
and another sheep jumps the back fence. Whether or not a new member is accepted, used and valued is a one-
sided verdict. The new member is the judge and jury. Often, churches try to make the judgement, but the
church is in no position to do so because the church is the one being judged. The chu