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Understanding the Dynamics

of Caring for the New

Definition of Terms
Joining: Becoming a member of the church
family through baptism.
Incorporation: Settling into the new family
(church) or environment smoothly
Buddy system: Organized spiritual buddy or
Assimilation: Belonging and bonding into the
new family.
Consciousness: Thinking and doing something

The Dynamics of Membership
Membership and incorporation of the New
At baptism the new members theologically
are now legal members of the church. (1Cor.
12:13) However, socially, psychologically, and
physically, not yet.
The church needs to incorporate the newly
baptized members into the church.
Therefore the pastors, elders, and leaders
at the local church need to understand the
dynamics of incorporation.
Membership and Incorporation
The purpose of membership is JOINING the
church through baptism. Thus baptism is the
entry point to the church-the body of Christ.
The purpose of incorporation is for SMOOTH
TRANSITION. The first few months and
years are crucial for the survival of the new
According to medical doctors, the first two
years of a child life are the most critical. If
they can survive the first 2 years they can
survive the rest easily.
The same is true of marriage and the church
as well.
Closely related to incorporation is the word
Assimilation is not joining the church, but
BELONGING. Belonging is where the new
members feel accepted and at home in the
new environment-the church.
Thus the sense of belonging is a good sign of
the person being assimilated well into the life
of the new family. Feeling accepted, no longer
feeling as strangers, are sure indicators and
signs of being well assimilated into the life of
the church.
Understanding Key Words
The KEY WORD for membership is
The KEY WORD for incorporation is
The KEY WORD for assimilation is
Therefore after baptism some of the key
words that we leaders need to know are
joining, incorporation, and belonging.
Five Basic Truths About
The new believers incorporation is not automatic.
The church rather than the new believer is
responsible for his incorporation.
The people who brought the new members to Christ
have the responsibility to help them become
bonded to the other people in the church.
The new members incorporation should begin
before baptism.
The new members incorporation must be high
priority for the church.
Church Centered Strategies
for Incorporation
1. Build and incorporation consciousness.
Regular agenda in board and officers meetings
People must go out of their way to know new faces
and greet and welcome them so they feel at home.
Lunch for visitors (example Pioneer Memorial
Church-Andrews University)
Encourage members and group to be opened to
visitors and new faces and invite them homes for
Strategies for Incorporation
2. Develop an incorporation structure
Establish a committee on incorporation and
Establish a new members class or small
group to be responsible for incorporation of
new members.
Study once-active members but now in-
active or drop-out, and find out why -
Periodical evaluation and review.

Strategies for Incorporation
3. Provide Friendship building opportunities
Prayer fellowship
Study group
Singing group
Witnessing group
Professional group
Cultural group, etc.
The numbers of friends the new members have in the
church will influence whether he stays or leaves the
church. The friendship factor is the most important
in the incorporation process.
Strategies for Incorporation
4. Structure for need-meeting ministries
The strategies meet the felt needs of
the new members such as:
Occupational and professional etc

Strategies for Incorporation
5. Create new roles and task which will
provide opportunities for service
- The new members need to be involved
in the life of the church, so they can feel
as part of or bonded to the church.
6. Monitor incorporation results
Systematically observe worship attendance
Assess the number involved in ministry in the
Observe the giving pattern, etc.
Characteristics of Incorporated
Identify with the goal of the church
Regularly attend worship services of the church
Tries to become part of the church
Show evidences of spiritual growth
Zealous and protective about the church
Involve in the fellowship of the church
Support the church with tithes and offerings
The number of new friends in the church
Support the church with his spiritual gifts
The use of the we rather than you
Active in bringing others to the church.
Signs of Incorporation Problems
Are there large numbers of transfers out who
keep the same residency?
Do you have more than 50% of the people your
church with no specific role and task?
Is there a large gap between church
membership and average worship attendance?
Is there a large gap between Sabbath School
members and Sabbath School attendance?
Would many of the members feel left out?
Are there large number of visitors who do not
come back?

Incorporation Problems Cont.
Is there a large percentage of new members not been
exposed to people and ministries in your church prior
to joining?
Are there large numbers of new members who do not
have a friends and relative in the church?
Are there members whose attendance and level of
involvement suddenly declines?
Are there felt needs among your members which are
appropriate for the church to meet, which are not
If the answer to many of these questions is yes, you
may have an incorporation problem and should
consider ways to go about solving it.