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Resistance Is Futile; You Will Be Assimilated

19January2012

In the Star Trek world, the Borg, a humanoid combination of biological and synthetic materials, are a collective.  Each “person” is so connected with the whole that if one “person” is dropped by a phaser shot, the next Borg will be able to adapt his shields to block the frequency of the next shot from the same phaser.  They perfectly coordinate with one another and, except in rare occasions, are virtually indistinguishable from one another.  The Borg look the same, move the same, and speak the same.  And when they conquer your planet and people, the completely destroy everything you were and make you a part of the collective, indistinguishable from the rest.

In little more than week, at Peace Lutheran Church we will be receiving new members.  It is wonderfully exciting to receive new members into a congregation; but how do we assimilate new members?

With the Borg, when they assimilated people, there was virtually no remnant left of who that person was.  A joke (truism?) I have repeated about the church is that we always want more members – people who look like us, think like us, will do things the way we do them… people who are exactly the same in every way, except we want them to give more money than we do.

Obviously it is not healthy for the body of Christ to have such a mindset.  We need all parts of the body, with all of the different gifts, interests, passions, and skills people bring.  We don’t – or at least shouldn’t – want people to be exactly the same and assimilated into our collective… but we do want them assimilated into our ministry.

I struggle with how to integrate new members; not because I don’t want new people with new gifts and new vision for ministry.  I struggle because I have never really been a new member in a congregation.  I grew up in the same congregation all the way through high school, and my parents still attend the same congregation.  I never joined another congregation until I received my first call as a pastor, and though I went through new member classes at both my first and second calls, it isn’t exactly the same experience for me as the pastor going through a new member class as it is a layperson going through the class.

In what ways have you successful integrated new members?  Or when have you experienced that going well… or not so well?  What insights, suggestions, or considerations can you offer about how to bring new members into the body of Christ expressed in a local congregation without assimilating them into your collective?

KMF@CCD

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