“Are you traveling again?” a member of our media team asked me with sadness as we were shooting Sunday’s video announcements. I know she asked because she misses me but it made me feel guilty because I have been doing a lot of travel lately. It was a rule of mine that I would vacate the pulpit no more than 6 times a year. For the most part, I’ve kept this rule since becoming the senior pastor of our church. But recently I have left the pulpit more often, especially this year, taking a ten-week Sabbatical to write a book.
I’ve been leaving more often in order to support the house church movement. I think that it has gained critical momentum. Even those who criticized house churches in the past are joining the movement. It almost seems trendy now to have house churches.
I believe that we are now at a critical juncture which will determine whether house (or cell) churches will be the new paradigm for the 21st Century Church or just a temporary fad. The difference will be whether the many churches working to convert their traditional churches to house churches succeed. If they do, house churches will become a new church model. If after 3 or 4 years, many of these churches fail, it will not last.
Right now, I’m slightly pessimistic about the future. Even though many different forms of house (cell) churches are proposed and promoted through seminars and conferences, the proponents of these forms have yet to demonstrate a model church. Our type of house church is virtually the only one that has been successfully implemented. Those that have undergone a transformation to this type of house church have been so successful that some have offered house church seminars for pastors and lay people just two or three years after transition.
When I went to Korea earlier this month I found that interest in the house church has reached a frenzy. The sponsoring church for the seminar had to stop accepting applications just a few hours after they began because their quota, limited by the number of church members that can provide room and board, was filled so quickly. If we want the house church movement to spread more rapidly, we need to have more churches that can sponsor seminars. Some feel that they need my help and want me to come and lead a seminar with them before they do it on their own. I’ve limited my Korea visits to two or three times a year, but some pastors have asked that I take an early retirement and concentrate my time and energy on helping more churches transform to house churches.
At my 60th birthday party thrown by our deacons, Deacon Ahn made this remark: “Pastor Chai wrote in a Pastor’s Corner that he was willing to give up the house church movement if it would hurt our church. But I hope that he doesn’t do that, because the reason our church is so happy is because he works hard to promote house churches, which pleases God. If he had worked only for our church, we may not be as happy as we are now.
He is a man of prayer. So I feel that I should consider his remark seriously.
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