Assimilation. That’s the key issue here. How can we get people to “stick” to our congregation and move from visitor to engaged participant? It’s easy to come up with a lot of wrong answers to this question. Better music. More inspiring preaching. Cool new bells and whistles. Some of these things could be great, but improving them may draw more of a crowd while not necessarily drawing more people to become truly a part of the congregation. 

visitor to congregant

Visitor to… Community

To move people from visitor to participant you need small pockets of community. That’s what makes people stick. 

A friend of mine recently visited some new churches, trying to decide where to try to set down some roots for a new church home. One place had great signage for how to get in and what to do. It had beautiful grounds and a nice building. The music was lovely. Lemonade and cookies were available after the service in a pretty courtyard. The only problem was that no one talked to her and her family. There were also no announcements about ways to get involved. She walked away with the impression that– however beautiful the service might have been– this would be a hard place to actually get to know people in any meaningful way. 

To move people from visitor to participant you need small pockets of community. That’s what makes people stick. Share on X

Small Groups

If you are looking at assimilation, one of the most important investments you can make is in developing a network of healthy small groups. Instead of asking, “How can I get people to stick?” try asking, “How can I develop a network of healthy small groups?” If you invest the time and effort there, you’ll see the results when people visit. Consider these questions:

  • How are we ensuring small groups are high quality?
  • In what ways are we instilling an outward and multiplying focus in my small groups?
  • What changes need to happen so our small groups are welcoming and inclusive?
  • How well are we giving visibility to small groups people’s experience of God in community?
  • How are we providing show-how training with on-going coaching and encouragement for small group leaders?
If you are looking at assimilation, one of the most important investments you can make is in developing a network of healthy small groups. Share on X

Resources

Many resources exist to help you with developing healthy small groups, but here are a few recommendations to get you started:

Finding the Flow– is an excellent training tool to place in the hands of small group leaders. We also highly recommend the Finding the Flow Small Group Leader Training. Covering everything from asking good questions and active listening listening to conflict resolution, this is a ready-to-go kit for Small Group Leader Training. The downloadable leader guide, powerpoint presentation, and participant guides make it easy to adapt training to online meetings as well.

Questions for Facilitating a Small Group- This is a FREE, easy-to-use guide for facilitating a small group. The seven questions in this one-page downloadable PDF document can help your group unpack and discuss any passage of scripture.

Journey Guides- Each of these 9 guides consists of a three-week study that you can do with another person or group. Each week includes an introduction to the topic, related scripture, exercises for deeper engagement, discussion questions, and customizable action steps. The guides can be experienced in any order, depending on where the Holy Spirit is directing you.

Photo by Kate Kalvach on Unsplash