I don’t expect all house churches to grow at the same pace. Shepherds have different talents and gifts and their house churches each have different circumstances. I cannot expect each of them to have the same results. So I don’t pressure them to grow their house churches quickly. I just congratulate those whose houses churches are growing and encourage those whose house churches are not. Happily, even in those house churches that aren’t growing, people are still coming to know Jesus now and then. As long as that happens, I think their shepherds are all right.
Although I don’t pressure them, many shepherds do that to themselves. In a way, it’s good because it shows that they are responsible and taking their ministries seriously. For these shepherds I’d like to share three secrets for helping a house church grow. I’ve gathered these secrets after years of observing successful house churches.
First, members must be allowed to share their thoughts and feelings freely. People come when they are able to share their intimate thoughts. This is often a reason why house churches with shepherds who have been Christians for a long time do not grow. They tend to teach and advise instead of listening. Also, when members don’t trust their shepherds or there’s animosity between members, intimate sharing can’t occur and house churches don’t grow.
Second, practical helps should be provided. Non-Christians often come to house churches for the first time because they feel they owe it to the members who helped them move, find apartments, get driver’s licenses, or enroll their children in school. They also come because they can get practical advice when they have conflicts in their marriage or at work. It’s hard for those who are well established to come to house church meetings, because they think they don’t need anyone’s help. On the other hand, if members come to meeting only to get help, their house churches do not grow either because they tend to stop coming after their needs are met.
Third, prayers must be answered. Non-believers are naturally very skeptical about the existence of God. One way to demonstrate the existence of God is to have prayers answered. When a sick person get well, when someone who’s unemployed gets a job, or when someone gets an interview with the IRS after a long hiatus as a result of prayer, they begin to think about God seriously and some of them eventually receive Jesus as their personal savior.
If these three things happen, non-believers will want to come to meetings and their house churches will grow.
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