As many college students who are from out of town will return home for the summer, many who grew up in our church who have been away for college will return home to Houston. Just as I pray for those students who will leave Houston to go home or elsewhere to have a fruitful summer, I desire the same for those who will return home to us. It will be very important for these college students to find a place where they can get plugged in during the summer in order to grow in their walk with Christ. Without getting involved in a small, intimate and consistent community like house church, it is not possible to maintain and grow our life in Christ. God made us in such a way that we change, mature and become more like Christ when we live our lives closely with those who are different from us and learn to submit to each other.
When our high school seniors graduate from their high school, I have an orientation with them in the beginning of June sharing with them about New Life, our membership process, the importance of joining a New Life house church before they go off to college and the significance of finding and getting involved in a local church near their college campus where they will be for the next four years. Not every senior comes to the orientation. And not everyone who comes to the orientation follows through on the instructions I give them. But the ones who take the instructions seriously and apply them faithfully usually do very well in their walk with Christ. And these returning college students will want to join a house church in response to the instructions they had received from me in the past when they just graduated from high school.
Some of your house churches had these high school graduates joining you during the summer in the previous years before they went off to college. You have done a great job of welcoming them even though they are younger than you and they could come and participate in your house church just for two months during the summer. However, because of your selfless ministry for them, they still feel and realize that they have a house church to go to when they return home to Houston. Now, they are about to come home again and we must be prepared to welcome them with deep and caring love of Christ.
If your house church is one of the house churches that receive these students returning home for the summer, please remember the following:
Expect your summer house church attendance to be big. If you already have 10-12 regular members, your house church will become 15 or more if several of these students join you. It could be hectic. But it could also be fun and exciting.
Have a realistic expectation of your sharing time. With the increase in number, your sharing time may not be as intimate or it could get longer. But you could also divided the group in two and make it work. By doing this, you may foretaste the blessing of being in a smaller house church after multiplication.
Think of these two months in the summer as an opportunity to be big brothers and sisters to them. Selfish people are focused on themselves and their own needs and wants. Selfless people are focused on others and others’ needs. Selfish people never grow and mature. Selfless people grow and mature to become more like Christ. Christ is the most selfless person, and therefore, He is the most mature person in human history.
Don’t think it is okay to skip a house church because of its big number. We make disciples in this church through modeling. The returning college students will look at you and imitate your life. It is both a sobering responsibility and an awesome privilege. If you are late to your house church, they will think it is okay to be late too. If you skip your house church, they will think it is okay to skip it too. If you gossip, grumble and become divisive, they will think it is okay to do all those as Christians. So, let’s be careful as to how we live our lives before our VIPs, new and young Christian brothers and sisters including the returning college students.
Enjoy summer activities with them. Come up with creative ways to do some fun summer activities and do two or three of them during the summer. If you have the means, be generous by paying for them. Be hospitable towards them. Through all these, you may be able to build lifelong relationships with them and become their big brothers, sisters and mentors.
So, what are we going to do with these college students who are returning home to Houston? We will welcome them joyfully and excitedly!
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