We consider models of N interacting objects, where the interaction is via a common resource and the distribution of states of all objects. We introduce the key scaling concept of intensity; informally, the expected number of transitions per object per time slot is of the order of the intensity. We consider the case of vanishing intensity, i.e. the expected number of object transitions per time slot is o(N). We show that, under mild assumptions and for large N, the occupancy measure converges, in mean square (and thus in probability) over any finite horizon, to a deterministic dynamical system. The mild assumption is essentially that the coefficient of variation of the number of object transitions per time slot remains bounded with N. No independence assumption is needed anywhere. The convergence results allow us to derive properties valid in the stationary regime. We discuss when one can assure that a stationary point of the ODE is the large $N$ limit of the stationary probability distribution of the state of one object for the system with N objects. We use this to develop a critique of the fixed point method sometimes used in conjunction with the decoupling assumption.