A few days ago I went into the gym to take a look at the house church attendance chart on the wall in the fellowship area. Other than just a few house churches, many of the house churches are faithfully keeping the attendance for their house church meetings. When I added all the people who had shown up and participated in their house churches during the week of 9/16-22, I came up with about 205 people! This is amazing and I was very pleased by it because it shows a couple of very important and healthy trends that are taking place in New Life.
First, the membership of New Life as of last Sunday is 160 and our recent Sunday attendance is about 200. On any given Sunday it is very unlikely that all the members of New Life show up to worship. (By the way, when I say New Life members, I am referring to those who have received Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, received baptism and took the Membership Class.) This means well over 40 non-members are coming to New Life each Sunday to seek and worship God. I am certain that this number is made up of both Christians and pre-Christians. It just excites me to know that there are many pre-Christians who come out to church on Sundays to seek God.
Second, I know that not everyone who regularly comes to church on Sunday makes it to his or her house church every week for various reasons, such as work, traveling, sickness, etc. There are also those who still think that Sunday worship is important but not the house church. They do not understand the importance of fully participating in their house church, that they cannot fully grow as Christ followers unless they devote themselves to one to serve, love and be held accountable for. Those of you who are either ?homeless? without a house church or not wholeheartedly committed to your house church, I hope you will understand this soon. If we factor this group of people in and analyze our house church weekly attendance, then we come to a conclusion that there is a whole new group of people who do not come to church on Sundays but only to our house churches, and this is the group that is truly making me excited!
By policy, we do not encourage or invite believers from different churches in Houston to come to New Life Sunday worship or our house churches. We are not interested in making our church big by inviting and receiving those who are already believers. Rather, we are committed in building up God?s kingdom by reaching out to our unbelieving friends and family members. If our house church shepherds have been faithful in keeping this policy, then we have many unbelieving individuals coming to our house churches and checking out the validity of Christianity by examining the lives of Christians and their community! Isn?t this exciting!
That?s why keeping the house church attendance is vitally important to New Life. It speaks volumes about whether or not we are reaching out to our unbelieving friends, coworkers and family members. Of course, a positive spirit of competition can arise amongst the house churches when we keep the attendance because it is there for everyone to see. Also, I do understand that house churches that have not been growing much for a while could feel a little down by their numbers. But we are not in this for our own face or reputation but for God?s glory and honor.
By the way, I want to remind you once again that we do not allow house church-hopping. Let?s remember that there is no ideal house church. If you feel like you have found a perfect house church, then please don?t join it because you are going to make it imperfect! Wherever you go, you are going to run into people problems, and they are often messy. But as we work out those conflicts and difficulties our character grows, and this is God?s way!
Please prayerfully choose one house church and faithfully attend and serve the house church. Having done your best but you still sense that there is a need for you to move on to a different house church, then share it with your shepherd. Your shepherd and I will also make a decision prayerfully taking everything into account. Please remain where you are until you hear from us. I pray that you will not become a person who upsets but enhances the healthy trends that we are experiencing right now. This is of God!
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