So far in this series we've looked at how assimilation relates to evenagelism and discipleship. We've talked about it being a process that is more complex than it appears and that groups are a great way to shepherd people at different places on a spiritual continuum toward the same goal of full church engagement. Today's topic is more traditional in nature, but with a little twist. It's on using attributes - pieces of information you track on a person's individual profile - as benchmarks.
Benchmarks are significant watershed points along a journey. My wife and I like vacationing by car. There is something therapeutic for us that goes with a windshield and an open road. We also like Yelp. So, we often figure out what town or city we'll be near for the next meal and then check yelp to find a hidden, local eatery. These culinary excursions become great memories for us. They are points of reference for every trip. They are benchmarks. There are two types of benchmarks on a person's assimlation journey. You almost certainly know these already. But maybe haven't thought of them in this way.
Dates as benchmarks. Dates are the objective measures that go with assimilation. Don't go crazy on benchmarking everything people do. Just track the things that will help you measure things you want to improve. In other words, be sure you have a reason to track each date. Here are some common ones and why they are worth tracking:
- First visit - track %age of first time vistors in worship, compare year to year
- Second visit - %age of people who come a second time and how long in-between
- Attended New Member's Class - not just interested in the class, but attended
- Baptism date - # of baptisms year to year
- Date joined the church - identify new members by month or year
- Completed discipleship training - possible qualification for serving
- Completed leadership training - possible qualification for leadership
- Background check - security for children's volunteers
One of the things I've learned from hanging around Church Leader Insights is that each system has a keystone that determines the success of a particular system. I haven't even included their keystone habit in this list: sending a hand written note.
Interests as benchmarks. Most churches have some way of gathering subjective information from those the Lord is bringing to their church. The purpose of gathering this information is to help the person find their place in the body and are based on verses like:
Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2:22
When we give our lives to Christ, we receive His grace which works itself out it each person's life as they serve the full body of Christ. Here are a few ways that churches track interests.
- Occupation - Common skill indicators, helpful, but different than spiritual gifts.
- Spiritual Gifts - Supernatural expressions of the Holy Spirit working through us.
- Ministry Interests - Often based on experience or stage of life.
- Passion - Areas someone feels strongly about.
- Temperment - Personality characteristics.
I've been a student of helping people find their place to flourish in ministry since well before starting Churchteams. In fact helping churches actually use these more subjective criteria to equip and release people has always been a passion.
Currently, a best practice is to include these attributes in the group view for any group or pool you have set up for recruiting. That way, when a staff person is contacting a potential volunteer, they can use this information to better help the person find a ministry in which they are more likely to thrive.
I hope that in 5-10 years I will be able to re-read this post and respond in awe and worship God for how He has taught us to harness AI and other technology to help His people truly thrive in ministry as He designed it.