There is a lot of talk about assimilation in the church world today, but what exactly does assimilation mean? Ron Jenson and Jim Stevens describe assimilation as “absorption.” They define absorption as “the process by which people are taken into the life of the church and by which a strong sense of identity and belonging develops.”
Rick Warren defines assimilation as “the task of moving people from an awareness of your church to attendance at your church to active membership in your church.” Assimilation is about connection and connection is about relationship.
In his book, Concentric Circles, Oscar Thompson says that the most important word in the English language, apart from proper nouns, is the word relationship. He believed that evangelism was strongly tied to relationships. I believe the same is true for assimilation. When we help guests and new members develop relationships with others in our church, we Velcro (connect) them to the church. Keep in mind, the church is not a building — we are the church, so we must focus on connecting by developing relationships.
Typically, assimilation does not happen by accident. A healthy church must develop an intentional plan to connect newcomers and new members along with a way to assimilate them into the life of the church.