Last week I did a post on three things to think about so that a church experiences growth–qualitatively as well as quantitatively.

One of these three is “Systems.”

There is a need to have systems that provide good structure so things are done well, and in a God-honoring way, while we shepherd and disciple the people God sends our way.

One system I see that is often done poorly (or not done at all) is that of helping new people find their place in the church family. This has often been called“Assimilation.”  I’m sure there’s a better name to call it, and if any of you reading this have a better idea, please let me know. We have all heard the expression that people are coming in the front door but leaving through the back door.  What can the church leadership do to close that back door?

First of all, there needs to be a champion for this: someone who has a deep concern and love for people–especially those who are relatively new. This is a general principle for any important task which needs attention: finding a person who is passionate about that particular area of ministry; a person who has passion, gifts, capacity and enough spiritual maturity to lead and build a team to lead with.

When I was one of the pastors with Mars Hill Orange County, it became clear to the leadership team that our “Assimilation Process” was not working well. New people were not connected and balls were being dropped right and left. Because I had both passion and time, I volunteered to address the issue as part of my pastoral responsibilities.

We developed a team lead by an amazing woman (Cindy Campbell) that we called “The Path”: the path from parking lot to church planter. Cindy did lots of research and developed some wonderful ideas for herself and the team she built.

What happens to people along the way from the moment they step into the parking lot all the way to some of them becoming church planters? Cindy and her team did an incredible job and we significantly closed the back door with people feeling cared for and connected because they always new what the “Next Step” was for them.

We wanted all of our people to be:

  1. Faithful in worship
  2. In a Community Group
  3. Giving financially
  4. On mission with the gospel
  5. Growing in discipleship
  6. Serving within the church family

The “path” team created what we needed to take us well down the road with all six of these desires.

If you would be interested in seeing some of what Cindy and her team created, email me: and I will share it with you.

If I could recommend one book on Assimilation-related issues, it would be The Equipping Church.

Don’t wait any longer. Find a person to champion “Assimilation” so that visitors return and become an integral part of the church family.