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Last Updated: 10/23/14

Assimilation / Discipleship Process

So how do you use your database to help people navigate your assimilation or discipleship process?

The right assimilation process starts with your ministry, not with your software.

Your database tools are intended to help you flesh out the processes that work for your ministry, not force you into a specific pre-set process.

  • Start with your clear, written plan for your ministry’s discipleship/assimilation process. This should take its basic shape without reference to the specific tools you will be using.
  • Then use your database tools to help you administrate and work out that process.

There's a lot of great literature on this subject, including The Optimized Church by Allen Ratta.

It's a big topic, but as you write up your process, a few of the key points relating to your data will include

  • Entry points - the different ways individuals first connect with your ministry and how you will capture the relevant data.
    Example: Attend Sunday service and fill out connect card, or attend a MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) activity and check in with a child.
  • Growth paths - the ways that you want to see individuals grow and the data points that you will use to track progress along the way.
    Examples: Baptism class, Life Group attendance, Serving in Children's ministry
  • Encouragement strategies - how you will help individuals along the path, including key points where you will communicate or follow up in specific ways.
    Examples: First time giving records, Pattern of regular attendance, Birth of a child.

The key piece of data in your database: the Status field.

On each person’s record (on the People > General screen), Status is a key field. As examples, common statuses include Attended one time, Regular Attender, Member, Deceased. One help article with important specifics on status is The General Info Screen.

As the article explains,

  • Status should reflect the basic stages of your assimilation/discipleship process.
  • The assignment of a status can trigger automated processes or put an individual “on the radar” for other activity

Setting a status (and maintaining it accurately) becomes a major piece of your assimilation data process.

Communication tools

Your plan will include different types of communication related to assimilation which can be triggered in various ways…

  • As mentioned above, a status change can trigger an Automated Email or printing a physical Follow Up Letter.
  • You can manually send emails or text messages, or create new Involvement records based on data points such as registration for an event, filling out an interest card, or getting an email from a volunteer about a conversation they've had.

Assigning specific tasks: Follow-ups

There will be key points where you want to assign specific Follow up tasks to an individual or ministry team leader.

Common points for follow up would be major life events (birth or death in family, marriage or divorce, graduations, etc.) or specific interest ("I'd like to know more about how to follow Christ" or "I'd like to talk to someone about...").

Leverage reports to help people take steps forward

If you are capturing good data, the ways you can use your reports and custom searches are limited only by your own creativity. If you've only explored basic reports so far, make sure you check out the more powerful Field Chooser Reports (FCRs).

Here are a couple examples:

  • Who has indicated interest in a small group over the last two years but still hasn't become active in a group?
    You can get a quick answer with R1022 Small Group Waiting List. Or if you want more nuanced information you can create your own version by starting with FCR3003 Small Group Involvement, adding the fields and filters you want and saving it for use.
  • What regular attenders (and even members) do you have who aren't currently serving in a ministry?
    CS0031 Regular Attenders and Members NOT Serving will give you a quick answer.
    Maybe you only want to see those who have had that status for longer than a year... You can use Manage Custom Searches to add a filter on the "Status as of" field, or you can get more flexibility using FCR3704 Serving to create and save your own report.

In your assimilation process, you may have a few key reports (including FollowUp reports) that you will want to include in your weekly Automated Processes so that the relevant staff or ministry leaders are kept informed.

Your Data Matters

Since all of this is based on your data and it's accuracy, it is vital that your entire ministry team owns the process of good data collection and accuracy.

Especially as you send out automated communications, you want to make sure that they are timely and accurate. As you get started in automation, take the time to set it up right and test your communications.

Assimilation/Discipleship/Growth Plans... whatever your ministry calls it, this is at the heart of what churches are about and at the heart of what Elexio is about. 


Do you have a great assimilation process mapped out that includes specific connections to data points and specific action steps? We'd love to see it and might even ask your permission to post it here! Click here to email support@elexio.com and just attach your plan document to your email.  


See also:

A Word to all Church Staff Especially Pastors

A Day in the Life of Elexio Database


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