By Lyle E. Schaller
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Extra resources for Assimilating New Members (Creative leadership series)
The universal church is expected to reach and minister to everyone in the name of Jesus Christ. That is an extravagant burden, however, to place on any one congregation. For example, the gospel is preached in Chicago in at least forty languages every week. That is necessary. Is it reasonable to believe that every Christian congregation in Chicago should preach the gospel in forty different languages every week? There is a difference between what God expects of his church and what he expects of each individual congregation.
The current number of program staff members may have been adequate when the congregation was composed of a more homogeneous collection of individuals and when several other components of the glue (see chapter 1), which are now absent, were present to help weld this large collection of people into a cohesive and unified congregation. 3 A third reason that many of these congregations, which appear to have room to grow, do not succeed in reaching many new members is the limited range of choices offered to people.
In one congregation, for example, this is what several recent, new adult members perceived when they looked at the boundary separating that inner fellowship circle from the rest of the membership. They saw one door in that circular wall labeled Young Married Couples with Small Children, and it was wide open. As one young couple in their mid-twenties approached that open door and started to go through it, they stopped and turned away because this was obviously not the door for them. Everyone in the group standing around talking just inside that door was at least forty-five or fifty years of age.