According to Merriam Webster, the definition of Assimilation is, “to make similar.” A common trend in church software is the ability to include an assimilation process and is one of the most talked-about topics among church leaders at church meetings.


Here are some typical questions:

  1. How do we get more visitors to become members?
  2. How do we increase the number of visitors each week?
  3. What is the “end goal” of the organization – is it to fill the seats on a Sunday morning or to see a spiritual transformation in people?
  4. Is the organization accomplishing its mission with its current resources?

Webster’s definition does not describe what the church is trying to do.

If a church is trying to make individuals similar or assume people are similar, they will ultimately fail. Why – because everyone is unique in their own spiritual transformation journey. The individuality of a person transcends from the first-time attendee to a 50 year church member. It is important that the church should keep their focus on the individuals first and not numbers (eg: membership or contribution statistics). We thank Rick Warren (The Purpose Driven Church, 1995) for providing the initial basis of the following definition of assimilation within the church :

The task of moving people from an awareness of your church to active membership and participation in your church.

One question to ask is: “Do we want church assimilation or spiritual transformation?” Looking at assimilation in this manner shows that it is only one part of helping someone through their spiritual journey. An organization would wither without assimilation however, the TRUE end goal is spiritual transformation. True spiritual transformation is the key to having a healthy active membership and participation from its members.

So how do we move people from simply being aware of a church to actively participate in the overall mission?

Now that we have outlined the role of the assimilation process and defined the church’s end goal, let’s discuss how to accomplish those goals. Warren’s definition of assimilation suggests people must participate, or in other words, connect with each other in order to accomplish the church’s overall mission which promotes a personal spiritual transformation.

Software is one way to track individual movement from one phase to another, however, it is not a silver bullet when the church has no defined process for spiritual transformation. Software flexibility that allows the church various ways of moving people to active participation is the key. Unfortunately, many software products provide a one “path of assimilation” fits all approach – incorrectly assuming that each church’s approach to assimilation is the same. Consequently, they also assume each individual follows the same spiritual journey and will fit into a one size fits all model.

Let’s look at this another way – did you and your friends all come to their beliefs in the same way? – Probably not, so wouldn’t the path be different for each of them? Churches are unique and develop their own processes to bring people into the fold that come from different walks of life. The software must accommodate these different individual paths and help churches facilitate the defined processes that the church leadership has determined is best.