Summary: A lesson for your leadership on Assimilation. For more information, see student copy description.


Making Insiders Out of Outsiders

Rev. J. Kevin Putty, Presenter

Matthew 28:19-20

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:

Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

1. Assimilation is system oriented.

1) Conversion involves an immediate decision whereby a person turns from their sin/evil ways (repent) and ask Christ to become the Lord of their life.

2) Discipleship is the spiritual process of getting people committed to Christ, committed to the local church, to mature in the Christian faith and mobilized to reach and disciple new believers.

3) Assimilation is the system that we use to make sure that discipleship happens within our local church.

(i) Examples of Assimilation Systems [Slides] …. The 5 Circles of Commitment and The Diamond of Spiritual Growth

A guard rail at the side of the mountain road is better than an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.

The obstetrician must be followed by the pediatrician.

2. The goals of an assimilation program are …

1) Inclusion: To incorporate men, women and children into the body of Christ

2) Association: to make insiders out of outsiders

3) Retention: to make and keep people as a healthy part of our church family

4) Conversion and Maturation: to make converts similar to the other members of the body of Christ

3. How effective have most churches been when it comes to assimilating their members?

Ask question: How effective have we been as a fellowship in increasing our attendance, membership and water baptisms when compared with the amount of reported conversions.

Time and time again, the AG is claiming an increase in total conversion. However, at the end of the year, we don’t seem to be making any progress in adding or baptizing new members into our church.

Lyle Schaller’s research says that a third to a half of all protestant church members do not feel a sense of belonging to the congregation of which they are members.

4. Individual churches and pastors need to ask hard questions in order to discover whether or not they have an assimilation problem at their church. What are the questions that we should be asking ourselves?

1. Do you have a number who transfer out of your church but keep their same mailing address?

2. Does your church have a significant percentage of people without a specific role, task or small group identification?

3. Is there a large percentage of the membership whose worship attendance is one Sunday per month or less? Who are they? Do you know the reasons for this fact?

4. Do a significant percentage of your members feel left out? These are the people who use the words, “they, them, and theirs”instead of, “us, we and ours”. A survey can be used to discover the answer to this question.

5. Are there large numbers of visitors who do not visit a second time?

6. Do you have a large number of new members without friends or relatives in the church? (WE WILL COME BACK TO THIS ISSUE)

What does it mean to have an effective assimilation package in your church?

5. An Effective Assimilation system is:

1) Doctrinally Sound. (Comment on decline of mainline denominations who watered down their doctrinal truths)

2) Spiritually Empowered.


Win Arn calls utilizing the power of relationship “The Friendship Factor.”

6. Effective Assimilation Churches do not ignore, “the Friendship Factor!”

1) Many try to dismiss the need for relationship within the church by saying that the church is not a country club! However, the Bible Genesis through Revelation is a book of relationship.

We need to understand that when the devil wants to harm you, he sends someone into your life.

When God wants to bless you, He sends someone into your life.

2) The New Testament calls evangelism through relationships “Oikos”. Oikos is defined as a household, extended family, social system or sphere of influence.

3) Let’s look at a few examples of how God used friendship or relationship in the New Testament to reach out to others.

In Luke 8:38-39, Jesus sends the delivered demoniac man back to his hometown to tell what God has done for him.

In John 1:40-42, Andrew brings his brother Peter to Jesus.

In John 1:44-45, Philip brings his friend Nathanael to Jesus.

According to John 4:49-53, an official and his entire household believed in Christ.

Acts 10 tells the story of Cornelius and his extended family coming to faith in Christ.

Acts 16:23-34 tells the story of the Philippian jail warden placing his faith in Christ and is baptized along with his family.

There are countless examples throughout scripture of God using friendships and relationships to reach out to hurting humanity.

In an article written in “Church Growth America”, it states that “friendship with others in the church is one of the most important keys in binding members to each other and to the church. The stronger and more meaningful these relationships become, the more assured you can be that these people will become or continue as active Christians in both the Sunday School and the church.”

4) Flavil Yeakley decided to track one hundred new members within his church for six months. After six months, 90 percent of the actives had six or more friends in the congregation (average 7.3) while 98 percent of the dropouts had fewer than six friends (average 1.9).

Number of friends











Active Members























7. Churches that assimilate new members begin with the end in mind.

(Vision for your people, what do you want them to become at the height of their maturation)

An intentional system of assimilation protects your vision!!! If you are not influencing your new converts intentionally, some other lay person is influencing them overtly.

It may be more important to assimilate members who transfer from another church. The reason being is that they come expecting to experience the same culture and environment as their other church experience. If people become disappointed with your church, it is because you didn’t tell them the differences up front.

8. Churches that assimilate new members understand that each one is time-stamped.

When do people drop out or become inactive?

How much time does a pastor or congregation have after they have joined the church in order to assimilate the new member?

1) Research indicates that people drop out at many different times for many different reasons. However, all agree the first months of membership are most critical. Some say it is the first three months that are most important. Others say that you have as much as eighteen months. Lyle Schaller’s research tells us that the first year of membership is both the most important and the most volatile time for the new member. He goes on to say that “adult members who do not become a part of the group, accept a leadership role, or become involved in a task during their first year tend to become inactive.” However, Win Arn has documented in his studies that 80-90% of the inactive become inactive during the first six months.

Jerrold L. Nichols reminds us that “the first few months of membership generally set the pattern for the future.”

9. Assimilating Churches share the ministry.

1) Ministries/tasks per member

Declining church: 27:100

Plateaued church: 43:100

Growing church: 55:100

2) The goal should be: 60:100

10. Assimilating churches grow larger by growing smaller.

Church growth consultants have stated that a healthy small group per member ratio should be 7:100.


Sunday School already has name recognition

Sunday School already exist. It is easier to build on something rather than start something from scratch.