I participated in the bi-annual House Church Conference for Pastors in Louisville, KY from Monday to Thursday this past week. There were about 130 pastors, pastors’ wives and a few missionaries. This was my sixth conference and the highlight of the conference for me was hearing the five speakers presenting their case studies about house church ministry in their church context. The sharing is always filled with joys and pains, successes and struggles, discouraging setbacks and encouraging changes which cause all the participants to laugh and shed tears at the same time. When the speakers end their presentations all the participants give thunderous applause to support and encourage them. It is quite moving and inspiring.
However, for the past three years, I have been walking away from this conference asking what New Life and I can do to help these pastors and pastors’ wives from small churches that are struggling, yet remaining faithful to the mission of the church that Christ has given us. The vast majority of the pastors that come to house church seminars and conferences are from small churches where the resources are very scarce. But the beautiful thing about them is that their hearts are sincere and they genuinely want to sacrifice their lives to build up their churches in the spirit of the New Testament. And it is this devotion of theirs that is enabling and empowering them to be filled with conviction, joy and hope. They have this kindred spirit with us when it comes to wanting to see churches being built the way Christ desires.
It is these pastors and pastors’ wives that are sending their lay leaders to the upcoming House Church Seminar for Lay Leaders which we will host from Friday, October 10 to Sunday, October 12. It may not be much to New Life, but these churches are investing so much of their resources just to send their lay leaders to the seminar to learn from us.
We have been praying to God to use us as a resource church for the past several years. And God is answering our prayers more and more. We decided to limit the number of participants to 30 lay leaders this year. As of now, there are 30 who have registered and a few on the waitlist.
New Life, you don’t know how good you have it here until you go out and see for yourself the reality of churches. Many of you have come to know Christ through New Life and New Life is all you know when it comes to church. And you think all the churches are all about the same. It’s not true.
We have been blessed by God beyond measure in many ways. But God never gives us blessings so we can enjoy them all to ourselves. Blessings mean responsibility. We must share our experiences, ministry and financial resources with those who are weak but desire to learn from us.
It is time for us to humbly and thankfully respond to God’s invitation once again. We need at least 20 shepherds who will host 30 plus participants. We also need many volunteers who will serve in various ways before and during the seminar. And we don’t host and serve because we have time and energy. Anybody can do that. We host and serve when we feel like we can’t.
“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”
(2 Cor. 8:1-22)
Remember that if we sacrificially serve these lay leaders who are coming to the seminar, God will be greatly pleased and we will be greatly blessed. Who knows what God will do to the hearts of these lay leaders? It only takes one person to create a spark in his/her church and bring about the changes that are necessary for the church to be restored in the spirit of the New Testament. And God may use you to play a vital role in creating this spark in your guests if you open up your home to host and serve them.
There is so much work that needs to be done in helping churches that want to learn from us in becoming a New Testament church. We have a choice to make. We can just be a local church that is only concerned about our own comforts and convenience. Or, in view of God’s mercy, we can be a church that lays down ourselves to serve and build up other churches.
All throughout the conference this past week, I have renewed my commitment to God that I will do whatever it takes to help churches so that they will be built and restored in the spirit of the New Testament. I trust that you will join me and follow after my footsteps in doing this glorious work God has given us.
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