The 2:47 Factor
When I was a kid, one of my favorite things to do was to veg, listen to music and build things out of legos. I would build houses, cars, airplanes....even before they came out with kits to build these things in much more extravagant ways.
Now picture the joy of getting a new lego kit for your birthday to build, say, a replica of the White House. You begin building, staring at a full color picture of the finished product on the lid of the box as you connect each piece. But as you attempt to build, you discover something: Many of the pieces don't fit. In fact, hardly any of the legos on the box seem to go together to form your President's house at all. Surprisingly, it seems that only 1 out of 20 pieces in the box could be used at all in the project.
Just one out of twenty. How does that happen?
Nelson Searcy in his book Fusion shares that on average, churches of any size in the U.S. only assimilate 1 out of every 20 people who visit. Some do better and many do worse. That's what "average" means. That's rough.
Ponder this stat as you think about building community in your church family. It means that 19 out of every 20 people that visit our churches will not become a part of it in any meaningful way. How many people would attempt a journey if only 1 out of 20 would arrive at their destination?
When our movement was born, Christ followers experienced the expansion of community differently:
"...each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved." -Acts 2:47 NLT
"Added" is a translation of the greek word for "joined to". We get our word "prosthesis" from it, which evokes the visual of the joining or adding of a limb to someone's body, not the addition of a name to an organization's database.. When our movement was born in Jerusalem and spread virally through the first-century world, people were added like limbs or "members" to a body...a vital, needed part, performing a necessary function. That's what the parts of our physical bodies do. They are intimately connected and function organically in their life giving roles.
In "Climbing the Assimilayas" I want to chat about principles, processes and forces that help the people who come to your church become genuinely connected serving members (limbs) of Christ's body in the Acts 2:47 sense.
I never liked the lego kits as much as I did my lego box. It was a big box full of every shaped piece I could ever want. I would lay out all the pieces that I thought could be useful in the project, and would take great satisfaction in being able to connect and use almost all of them by the time I was finished building.
Last year I felt a much greater sense of satisfaction than that when I saw that out of 1993 people who visited our church and filled out a card last year, we baptized 1 out of 3 of them. 4 out of 10 also became a part of a small group and 1 out of 7 are now volunteering. As a result, I am becoming more and more passionate about what I see God doing in assimilating people into his family .
Beginning with this post, let's start talking about what it would look like to move towards seeing 1 out of 4 guests (think parable of the soils here) becoming vital parts of our faith communities over time.
Let's talk, set up camp, and climb together...
- What stats can you track to help you determine how many guests in your church are becoming assimilated?
- What is one thing you could do this month that would help you move one step closer toward a 1 out of 4 assimilation ratio?
- What is one thing you could stop doing now that might improve your assimilation ratio?
- When you think of a needed limb being added to a body, who in your church comes to mind? Is there any one new to your church that could be the next one you see like this?