By Lyle E. Schaller
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Additional resources for Assimilating New Members (Creative leadership series)
In this chapter the focus shifts to the dynamics of inclusion and exclusion. Perhaps the clearest method of presenting this concept is to look at a series of circles. One means of illustrating the basic concept is to use two examples that may be found in the congregation with two full-time ordained ministers on the staff. The background theory is that every congregation can be described in terms of two concentric circles. The larger outer circle is the membership circle. Every member is within that outer circle.
This is to perpetuate the small-church selfimage. "4 This means the congregation functions as one large small group. Instead of seeing this as a congregation of groups, organizations, classes, circles, task forces, boards, committees, departments, and individuals, the leaders perceive it as a congregation of individuals and try to operate on the premise that it is one large circle or cell. Usually the congregation is too large to function as a healthy small group, and thus it is in effect a supersaturated solution with more members than can be absorbed into one group.
Some deny their church is exclusionary. Others are aware of a few exclusionary characteristics but counter this with the declaration that "ours is a very friendly congregation. " There are three significant groups of people, however, that are missing from that congregational self-portrait. The first is composed of the newcomers to the community who visited that congregation once or twice and subsequently decided not to return. Their evaluative comments on the openness of that parish seldom are heard by its leaders.
Assimilating New Members (Creative leadership series) by Lyle E. Schaller