The Austin Stone is a church committed to the exaltation of Jesus through the proclamation and demonstration of the gospel to our city and the nations through missional communities. This blog series unpacks how we approach the difficult challenge of assimilation into smaller communities from our Sunday gatherings:
- The Difficulty of Assimilation and Mission
- The Basic Philosophy of Assimilation
- Barriers to Connection
- Strategies for Overcoming Barriers
- A Few Things We’ve Learned About Assimilation
Difficulties of the “AND”
As a rapidly growing church, one of the largest challenges we have faced is connecting individuals who gather with us on Sundays to smaller families that live on mission throughout the week. Add to that our convictions that the purpose of smaller communities is to gather for the sake of mission, not primarily for the needs of the church community, and you have a recipe for disaster when it comes to traditional church methods of assimilation or connections.
Over the past few years, we’ve tried just about everything you can imagine. We’ve tried North Point style “Group Link” events, technology assisted assimilation, events on Sundays, midweek classes, and everything in between. We’ve even used a modified Saddleback 40 days of purpose strategy, with the low-bar, large-scale launch approach.
The realization has been that there is no perfect system for assimilation, especially with the convictions we have as a church. As we’ve clarified our vision for missional communities and gone through a few rounds of experimentation, we’ve landed on a fairly stable system that we’ve found to be relatively effective.
We basically took some principles from popular assimilation philosophies, combined some thoughts from small group systems growth, and poured in a good healthy dose of missional DNA.
What has resulted is a dynamic and changing assimilation strategy that uses different environments and events for different purposes with different outcomes over time.
How have you tried to implement connecting new people into communities?