Healthy churches focus on assimilation. Technology has a growing role to play in how we engage with people and help them find their role, but it can’t and shouldn’t replace relationships.
It’s great to see churches thriving and adapting in a time where their business model has been completely and suddenly shaken. As the Church reaches a larger audience, we have to understand that people still desire connection. You’ve probably heard it discussed that Gen X’rs are the most connected generation in history but also the loneliest. Why? Inauthentic connection. Access and connection are not synonymous. Social media gives us the impression that we’re connected without actually connecting us. The result is that people, especially younger people, derive much of their identity and values from likes, or a lack of likes, versus the benefit of real, authentic community.
Healthy churches focus on assimilation. To me, assimilation is simply leading people to find their role in the God-inspired story of redemption through the local church. That includes service opportunities, community groups, giving, host teams, and the like. The church is the conduit.
I don’t have answers, but as we continue to increase our digital capacity, we will have to focus on systems of appreciation, celebration, and assimilation. People need to hear from us and feel seen by us.
Because we’re dealing with people and not objects, we’re dealing with how they experience us more than what they learn from us. Think about that. Instead of asking the question, “what do we want people to know?”, we should ask, “how do we want people to feel when they experience us?” Instead of building a culture around information, which is often quickly forgotten, we should build a culture around experience, which is memorable. So what do we want people to feel? Heard. Loved. Connected. Appreciated. Curious. Fed. Equipped. Empowered. If we can cultivate a safe space for these feelings to grow, it will foster the long-term relationship that is required to establish authentic relationships and spiritual growth.