It has been over ten years since we started the house church system and we have made a lot of progress during this time. We started with 23 house churches and now we have more than 100. We have also held many seminars on the house church to help those who are interested. The House Church Seminar for Pastors that we will be hosting in a couple of weeks is our 15th.
Hosting a seminar is a lot of work for the church. So when we started, we decided to keep holding two seminars a year only as long as attendance continued to go up. When attendance started to decline, we would move to having just one seminar annually. But attendance has consistently grown so we’ve continued to offer two seminars every year. 150 pastors will be attending the upcoming seminar.
Recently, we have made a few changes to our house church policies. The shepherds know about the changes but I wanted to explain them to everyone.
Starting this week, men will be responsible for doing the dishes at house church meetings. Until now, our policy has been that house churches should hold off on doing the dishes until after the meetings were over. We do this to help prevent delays so that meetings do not start and end too late. But in many house churches, the hostesses feel uncomfortable having dirty dishes around, so they insist on doing the dishes before the meetings start. Consequently, meetings start behind schedule.
One house church solved this problem by having the men do the dishes. In this church the women usually prepared the meals, and the men started eating first. When the men started cleaning the dishes – as soon as they were finished with their meals – the dishes were done at about the same time the women finished their meals and the meeting could start on time. It also gave the men an opportunity to serve and made the women happy. They killed three birds with one stone. It’s a great idea, so starting this week, we’re asking men to do the dishes at all house church meetings.
We’ve also adjusted our policies regarding joint house church meetings. As you know we hold joint house church meetings once a month to give house church members an opportunity to get to know other house church members. The goal of these meetings was just to get to know one another. But starting this year, we want to give it more focus, making it an opportunity for house churches to learn from other house churches how to conduct their meetings more effectively. So now, two house churches will hold joint meetings for two consecutive months, each taking a turn as host. The host house church will provide the meeting place and food and will lead the meeting, while the guest house church members will attend as observers.
Different icebreakers will be used each month to make the conversation more spicy. They will include questions like “What do you remember about your elementary school?”, “In what way are you most like your father/mother?”, “What is the highest compliment you ever received?”, etc. These topics have been distributed to the shepherds.
The guests are asked to talk only during this open discussion period since they are there primarily to learn. They may speak if the host shepherd invites their input during discussions. But otherwise, the guest house church should focus on observation so that all the house churches can continue to learn from one another.
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