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EFFECTIVE ASSIMILATION. How To Retain New Members Steve Parr Bible Study Ministries, Specialist Georgia Baptist Convention. Resident Members. 1,028,979. Enrollment. 732,398. Worship. 531,552. Sunday School. 366,353. Baptisms/Additions. 76,130. Net Gain Resident Members.

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effective assimilation


How To Retain New Members

Steve Parr

Bible Study Ministries, Specialist

Georgia Baptist Convention

the challenge

Resident Members

  • 1,028,979


  • 732,398


  • 531,552

Sunday School

  • 366,353


  • 76,130

Net Gain Resident Members

  • 895
The Challenge


this presentation
This Presentation
  • Biblically Based
  • Experience Based
  • Research Based
matthew 28 18 20
Matthew 28:18-20
  • The call of the Great Commission is “disciple-making,” not “convert-making.”
matthew 28 18 201
Matthew 28:18-20

GO= Evangelizing

¾ of formerly unchurched had someone share the plan of salvation with them one on one. The overwhelming majority said it was a lay person.

BAPTIZING= Assimilating and identifying with the body of Christ.


  • Evangelism and Discipleship are both/and, not either/or.
  • Winning someone to Christ is not an end, but a beginning.
ephesians 4 11 13
Ephesians 4:11-13
  • “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;
three most effective tools
Three Most Effective Tools
  • A Healthy Sunday School
  • A New Members/New Christian’s Class
  • An Emphasis on Relationships
i a healthy sunday school
I. A Healthy Sunday School
  • 90% of Effective Evangelistic Churches (according to Rainer’s research) identified Sunday School as their most effective assimilation tool.
  • Churches with healthy Sunday Schools were found to be more effective in evangelism and assimilation.
  • 83% of believers that were involved in SS were still active five years later. Only 16% of those that did not plug into SS were active five years later.
georgia s 100 fastest growing sunday schools

1998 Baptisms

2001 Baptisms


Top 25 Small SS




Top 25 Intermediate




Top 25 Medium



+ 65%

Top 25 Large



+ 23%

Top 100 Growing SSs



+ 45%

All Georgia Churches



- 2%

Georgia’s 100 Fastest Growing Sunday Schools
  • Membership and/or Worship can grow without Sunday School experiencing growth.
  • Every church with a growing Sunday School has a growing Worship and Membership.
  • These churches were the fastest growing 100 and represent all size churches.
  • Evangelism and Sunday School are resulting in growth (assimilation) in these churches.
surprising insights from the unchurched
Surprising Insights From The Unchurched
  • Rainer found that the formerly unchurched were more likely to be involved in Sunday School than transfer members from other churches!
  • 68% compared to 58%.
qualities found in effective assimilating sunday schools
Qualities Found In Effective Assimilating Sunday Schools
  • They tended to have “high expectations” of leaders and members.
  • They tended to be balanced between content and relationships.
  • The Sunday School class was the source from which ministry occurred.
  • The Sunday School classes had an outward focus.
having a sunday school is not enough
Having a Sunday School Is Not Enough
  • Almost every Georgia Baptist Church has a Sunday School ministry. They are not all getting the same results.
  • The Sunday School must be healthy.
  • Example: Children do not invite friends over if their home is dysfunctional.
  • Are the members inviting their friends to Sunday School?
common factors of effective sunday schools in georgia
Common Factors of Effective Sunday Schools in Georgia
  • 98% train their Sunday School Leaders
  • 96% believe the Pastor’s support of the Sunday School is critical.
  • 96% are very flexible about schedules and space.
  • 91% practice “open enrollment.”
  • 85% use an evangelistic training process or method.
common factors of effective sunday schools in georgia1
Common Factors of Effective Sunday Schools in Georgia
  • 83% are strategic in creating new classes.
  • 80% have a weekly visitation ministry.
  • 78% have an active prospect list.
  • 78% have high standards for their leaders.
  • 78% intentionally organize for growth by enlisting multiple leaders for each class and providing age-graded adult classes.
ii a new members new christians class
II. A New Members/New Christians Class
  • These are classes that meet for four to eight hours to introduce prospective members to the church, to orient new members regarding membership, and/or to provide introductory discipleship training to new believers.
  • The times and schedules varied widely from church to church. The common factor was that there was a class provided.
results of new members classes
Results of New Members Classes
  • When offered, but not required, assimilation improved by 72%.
  • When expected, but not required, assimilation improved by 89%.
  • When required, assimilation improved by 112%. People were more than twice as likely as before to become active members of the church.
what happens in these classes
What Happens In These Classes?
  • Information is provided.
  • Expectations are communicated.
information is provided
Information Is Provided
  • The information includes general information about the church and ministries.
  • The information primarily provides a doctrinal summary of the churches beliefs.
  • The formerly unchurched (in Rainer’s study) considered this “extremely important.”
expectations are communicated
Expectations Are Communicated
  • The participants were “more likely” to engage in ministry.
  • The participant’s were stronger in their financial giving (30% higher than non-participants).
  • The participants were more inclined to share their faith (Only 7% of members ever verbally share their faith).
  • They were more inclined to attend Sunday School.
  • They were more more likely to join (if they were prospective members).
characteristics of effective churches
Characteristics of Effective Churches
  • There is a “front end” new members class.
  • One-on-one mentoring is provided.
  • There is an opportunity to become involved in ministry immediately.
  • Concepts of personal evangelism are taught immediately.
iii an emphasis on relationships
III. An Emphasis On Relationships
  • “Intentionality” is a common quality in effective churches.
  • Sunday School tended to be the key source of relationships.
    • Do you have resident members that are not enrolled in a class?
    • 1,028,979 resident members minus 732,398 enrollment equals 296,581 of our resident members that may not have a source for a relationship.
more on relationships
More On Relationships
  • Relationships need to be assigned as well as spontaneous.
  • One-on-One Discipleship is offered by very few churches, but is highly effective where implemented.
  • People visit because they are invited. They return if the church is friendly. They assimilate if they build a relationship.
five resources for discipling new believers
Five Resources For Discipling New Believers
  • Five Steps of Christian Growth by Bill Bright. $3.99
  • Beginning A New Life available through Lifeway Christian Resources. $3.00
  • Ten First Steps For The New Christian by Woodrow Michael Kroll. $1.99
  • Survival Kit For New Christians available through Lifeway Christian Resources.
  • Ten Basic Steps Toward Christian Maturity by Bill Bright. $14.99
statistical research
Statistical Research
  • Georgia’s Fastest Growing Sunday Schools: Ten Common Factors by Steve Parr available at no cost through GBC.
  • Information from Georgia’s Annual Church Profiles.
  • Effective Evangelistic Churches: Successful Churches Report What Works And What Doesn’t By Thom Rainer.
  • High Expectations: The Remarkable Secret For Keeping People In Your Church By Thom Rainer.
  • Surprising Insights From The Unchurched By Thom Rainer.
effective assimilation1


How To Retain New Members

Steve Parr

Bible Study Ministries, Specialist

Georgia Baptist Convention