We now have 73 house churches including the two in Chiang Mai shepherded by Eric Chu and David Kim. God is using us to reach out to our VIPs and we are definitely growing in number!
As you all know, my wife and I make a house church visitation each Friday. It’s always very warm and encouraging to visit your house churches. Through this visitation, I get to know you better by going over to where you live, sharing a meal together and asking you questions. You too get a chance to know me and my wife better through the Q & A session we have when we visit your house churches. You get to ask us questions about the Bible, New Life and our personal lives. This helps us to get closer to each other and bridges the gap between the pastor and the church members as New Life is getting bigger.
However, due to the increase in number of our house churches, it takes about two years for me to visit each house church. Recently, when I attended a village meeting, the village leader suggested to me that I have village leaders regularly visit their house churches at least once if not twice a year since I can’t visit them often enough. These village leaders and their wives are mature shepherd couples in your villages who are asked to serve your shepherds and their wives as their older brothers and sisters by praying for them, listening to them and giving them the support they need to do their ministry well. They are acting more like overseers while they are shepherding their own house churches.
When I heard this suggestion, I thought it was a great idea. If we do this, it will help all the village leaders to know the condition of the house churches in their villages better. It will also give all of you an opportunity to meet with your village leader at least once a year to ask him questions in regards to the above mentioned topics. This is very similar to what Moses did in leading Israel after hearing Jethro’s advice who was his father-in-law.
“Moses’ father-in-law replied, ‘What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.’ Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.” (Ex. 18:17-26)
Even though this is not the church structure that God prescribed in the New Testament, there is much wisdom in this. And I think New Life will benefit a lot if we model ourselves after this.
So, these are the guidelines we will follow:
- A village leader will visit those house churches in his village at least once but no more than twice a year.
- A village leader will not miss his own house church more than once a month to visit other house churches.
- A village leader’s house church doesn’t cancel its own meeting when he is visiting another house church.
- A village leader will follow the same format that Pastor Eric uses when he visits house churches. It goes in this order: (1) Meal, (2) Ice Breaker by asking “What is one thing you are thankful for this past week?”, (3) Praise, (4) Word Time, (5) Q & A, (6) Prayer of blessing by the village leader for the house church members.
- A village leader will conduct Q & A not in a negative or gossipy way but in a positive, encouraging and beneficial way.
- A village leader and all the shepherds in the same village will come up with a mutually agreed upon schedule.
- A village leader will respect Pastor Eric’s visitation schedule so that they will not overlap on the same day.
- A village leader will write and submit a visitation report to Pastor Eric immediately after the visit so that Pastor Eric will be informed of the condition of the house churches and be able to serve them better.
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