Many of our church members had never set foot in a church before they came to Houston and accepted Jesus at ours. They tend to be temporary residents of Houston, here as students, overseas workers, or medical school faculty members on exchange programs. They typically return to Korea after a year or two.
Shepherds must help these people find home churches in Korea when they go back. Otherwise their commitments will weaken and their faith wither.
What criteria do we use to find “good” churches? I would look for three things in a church.
First, does the church have small groups where members can share their lives? Women’s or men’s groups that meet sporadically don’t count. The group members should be like family members and the group meetings honest and transparent. If you join a church without groups like these, your spiritual growth will depend solely on Sunday sermons and will stagnate.
Second, does the church have serious Bible studies? By this I don’t mean perfunctory Bible study classes that meet before or after Sunday worship services. I mean in-depth Bible classes that meet on weekdays for a set period of time (a quarter or semester) and assign homework.
Third, does the church have good preaching? To some people, listening to the sermon is the only reason for attending Sunday worship services. That’s wrong. On the other hand, it’s hard to grow spiritually when you’re not nurtured by Sunday sermons. They don’t necessarily need to be eloquent, they just need to be prepared prayerfully and deal with answers to everyday problems. Still, one shouldn’t choose a church solely on the basis of the preacher. This is the first step away from being a disciple of Jesus toward becoming merely an audience of good sermons.
Human beings have three faculties: feeling, knowing, and willing. People grow in faith when all three faculties are exercised. Small groups reach people’s feelings, Bible studies increase their knowledge, and sermons motivate their will. Shepherds need to help their house church members find churches with good small groups, serious Bible study classes, and good sermons.
Most house church implementations are equipped with these three things: house church meetings, “Life” Bible studies, and practical sermons that help church members become disciples of Jesus. Shepherds can help their house church members who are returning to Korea find house churches by searching the house church directory on the House Church Ministries website. Shepherds should personally contact house church members and ask them to provide personal care.
If there is no nearby house church listed in the directory, ask for help on the message board. Someone may direct you to a church that is preparing to convert to a house church or another church with a good reputation.
When you find new home churches in Korea for your members who are returning there, then and only then is your job as a shepherd completed.
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