Research Says Great Teams Know How to Assimilate New Team Members


After reading, would you be willing to share this and offer a comment below? I respond to each comment.

Each semester it is common for a student ministry team to add a new leader or two. It is rare for teams to remain static for too long and it is actually a sign of health in your recruitment and training strategy if you are regularly adding new leaders on your youth ministry or college ministry team. God is constantly at work raising up new laborers for his harvest field so it is really important to have a plan for assimilating new leaders on your team:

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few;  therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’ – Matthew 9:36-38).

How to assimilate new team members in student ministry

All of us have been “new” to a team at some point so it should be easy for us to relate. But in reality it takes discipline to keep reminding yourself how others might be feeling like an outsider. It is helpful to step back and put yourself in a new team members shoes. This greatly improves your ability to help them assimilate to your team.

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Think of a rowing team or a basketball team. It is in the best interest of everybody on the team to welcome new team members and actively help them become comfortable and familiar with the team. If your team does not show hospitality toward new members and intentionally assist them in using their gifts on the team, the whole team will suffer. Imagine a rowing team that gains a new rower and simply leaves it up to the newbie to figure out what is going on, what training is needed, what their strategies and tactics are to move efficiently through the water. You can see that a non-hospitable approach to assimilating new team members will cause immense suffering for the whole team. So its everybody’s role to come alongside and bring them up to speed.


In a recent study on team assimilation, “92% of respondents said it takes 90+ days to reach productivity and 62% said 6+months.” So if your team operates on the semester calendar like most schools, in the Fall you need to stay focused on assimilating new leaders from September-November at a minimum and then in the Spring, this probably needs to be a priority for you from February-April. The implications of this is huge: If you are the team leader of a team, assimilating new leaders is one of your top priorities during the whole school year… it is not something that happens in the first meeting and then you are good to go… it is a process that takes probably the whole school year to get a new team member fully engaged.

Essentially what is needed is for us to think beyond our own needs or role and have a vision for the new members joining our team. And then once you have a vision for someone else, your work becomes figuring all of the ways you can help the person you are apprenticing to increase their potential in all areas of their life: in wisdom, in stature, in favor with God and man (see Luke 2:52). It is a privilege to help a new team member learn how to aim the frontiers of their life toward glorifying God through their relationships with students.


Student ministry teams that will truly turn a city upside down with the Gospel are committed to relational evangelism and team work. So team assimilation is a crucial skill to learn and practice. I have developed a tool that may help the process of assimilation move more smoothly for you.

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Whether you are a veteran student ministry leader or a new member of a team, the questionnaire listed below can help you take an honest look at your strength areas and growth areas. When new leaders join an existing team it is really important for the whole team to help new leaders assimilate to the team. The faster the new leaders can learn the ropes and develop trust in the team and vice versa (the team develop trust in them) the better off everyone will be. An evaluation tool like this if used well can radically enhance your team’s unity in mission. If you are interested in growing in your ability to assimilate new leaders on your student ministry team then after you download the tool below, here are two simple steps:

  1. Each person on the team fill out the questionnaire and then share as a group each person’s strength and growth areas.
  2. Pair up team members who can enhance one another’s growth areas as they serve students.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Team Evaluation Tool: How to Assimilate New Student Ministry Team Members