There seems to be a rumor going around that house churches that have not attracted any new members for 3 years will disband.
This is not true. House churches are true churches. You don’t shut down local churches simply because they don’t get new members. You don’t disband house churches for the same reason.
The rumors likely started because of a recent decision to disband house churches that haven’t had new members for three years when their Shepherd resigns or moves instead of appointing a new Shepherd. We made this decision because we felt these house churches have formed negative traditions that need to be broken.
Each house church has its own unique culture, some of which is bad. In some house churches, members come to house church meetings but don’t attend Sunday worship services. In others, house church members never take the New Life Bible Study courses even after attending house church meetings for a long time. In some, they receive Jesus Christ as their Savior but don’t take the next step and get baptized. In others, members take it for granted that they will meet at the Shepherd’s house instead of taking turns hosting. In others, Shepherds and their wives are the only ones who serve and everyone else expects to be served all the time.
Left unchecked, negative cultures eventually become traditions that are hard to break.
Unfortunately, in some house churches, reaching non-believers and inviting them is completely ignored in the house church culture. Unlike other cultural problems, this can’t be left unaddressed because it goes against the very purpose of the churches’ existence. So we decided to disband house churches that have had no new members in 3 years when their Shepherd leaves. We felt that a new Shepherd wouldn’t be able to change their culture and revive the group. For similar reasons, we decided to allow Shepherds to disband their house churches and start new ones if they feel that their house church members have lost interest in saving souls and the house churches are stagnant.
When a house church disbands, no two families are allowed to join the same new house church, because being used to an unhealthy culture, they may negatively affect the new house church. Also, Shepherds are allowed to refuse people from disbanded house churches when they think that they will become a hindrance to their efforts to evangelize and make disciples.
Many churches and pastors look to our church as a model for the New Testament church. We must be careful so that we don’t become complacent and forget what we are called to do as the church.
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