After having returned from a six-day conference held at Seoul Baptist Church in Houston, I’m happy to feel like I have a much better understanding of what my church expects from me.
You see, it seems common in the Korean culture to speak in vague generalities. So when I first arrived from Korea and checked in with the church, I was asked, “So when will you start the English Ministry? What is your ministry plan?” I was surprised to hear such questions coming from the Senior Pastor because I had never met the congregation, I had no understanding of what the church body was like, and I also didn’t have any real relationships within the church apart from my friendship with Paul Lee, the Youth Pastor.
The House Church concept resonates deeply with where I’d like to be in ministry as a servant of the Lord and of His church.
Personally, there are many reasons I can think of off the top of my head why I prefer the house church over the institutionalized church. I will list them in no particular order.
1. Effective platform for evangelism. One of the things that I think plagues the pastor of the institutional church is that we’re usually very unsure about the spiritual condition of most of the congregants. Truthfully, in my congregation of more than 100 people, There were probably about 35 people whom I was sure were saved and had a vibrant relationship with the Lord. (I know that the skeptic will read this and criticize, “How can you make those kinds of judgments. Only God can know the true heart and intent of the person.”) I completely agree, but as a pastor, I will stand before God and give an account for the way I handled my trust. If 65% of the people who sat under my teaching and preaching, while I stayed on the nightwatch, slipped under my nose, I’m not sure if I could stand with a clear conscience. I am fully aware that ministry is not about what I can do, or what methods I employ, but about how faithful I am to taking care of his sheep, how I feed them, How I equip them, how I raise them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
2. Spiritual edification. I find it so ironic that most churches are so program-oriented, and consequently have little clarity into their congregations growth, yet at the same time the pastors of the same churches preach that church is not about the programs. (I know I’m making sweeping generalizations, but I think many church attendees will agree with this presumption.) Isn’t it the case that we often measure the successes of our ministries about number of attendees, budgets, and income vs. expenditures, etc. A house church allows us to measure the success of our ministries by the growth of individuals in their relationship to Jesus Christ, and the evident work of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
3. Return to the New Testament value of church as reflective of “family” of God. In many of the churches today, the structures are more akin to the corporate model than the family that God intended. We have the pastor as the President/CEO, and elders or deacons as Directors. The house church attempts to reestablish the intimacy and closeness of a spiritual family, and recognizes the Fatherhood of the Lord as head over the church.
4. Church returns to the New Testament definition of “a gathering of the elect,” rather than the organizational enterprise it has become. In this setting people naturally get involved in the lives of their house church members. In the institutional church, the pastor usually visits the sick, leads the preaching, and teaching. However, in the house church, everyone is a part of the family, that means that everyone has a role to play.
5. It recognizes and practices the priesthood of all believers, instead of drawing mis-driven dichotomys between laiety and clergy. In the house church everyone is an important part of the whole. When someone is missing, or is not foing well, then the whole church feels it because of the intimacy and the closeness of small church setting. It also does away with the disctinction between “professional” and “laiety.” Some people will see this as a threat, however, I believe that the more insecure a leader is, the more he tries to maintain control.