Assimilation

Helping Visitors Become Members

There are few things that excite a pastor or Sunday school teacher like meeting a first-time visitor. The presence of a guest breathes life into a classroom or church auditorium. When it comes time to follow up on these newcomers, most church leaders overflow with hope. But do we really understand where to lead them and how to work with them after we have thanked them for their visit?

Our goal is to lead these visitors to Christ, see them discipled, and find them several years later functioning as healthy, serving, contributing Christians. This is both biblical and possible, but how do we lead people there? We start with a process we call assimilation, and it involves leading them from V to E to M.

One dictionary defined the word assimilate in this way: “To integrate somebody into a larger group, so that differences are minimized or eliminated.”

The assimilation process begins with three steps.

1. People start out as visitors, and we remember this with the letter V.

2. We want them to become members, and for this we use the letter M.

3. Finally, the letter which serves as a bridge to connect the V and the M, is E, for enrollment. In order to lead people from V to M, we must pass through E. Enrollment into an adult Sunday school class serves as a major step toward church membership. Therefore, we encourage every visitor to enroll in an adult class as soon as possible. 

Enrollment must be emphasized by the teacher, practiced by the class secretary, and understood by the class members. Newcomers should fill out enrollment forms with their contact information, birthdays, and anniversaries. Nearly anyone can enroll in a class, and we want to make sure everyone knows they are welcome. Effective soulwinners and Sunday school teachers are always on the lookout for potential enrollees—in their neighborhoods, at the grocery store, and even in the church pews!

I suppose we will never reach a 100% success rate, seeing every visitor automatically turn into a fully mature Christian. However, experience has proven that we can dramatically increase our rate of turning visitors into members by enrolling them into the Sunday school.

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