As you well know, our church does not allow people to join our church if they are already believers. We do this to demonstrate our commitment to reaching out only to non-believers. Article 2 of the House Church Manifesto states: we do not pursue church growth as the ultimate goal, but the saving of souls, because we believe that this pleases our Lord. Other house churches also forbid people who have already received Christ as their Savior to join their churches. Many house churches list this policy on their church bulletin as we do: “If you have received Jesus as your personal Savior and have assurance of salvation, we ask you to join a small church and serve there.” Some of the churches that have this policy are small churches with only 20 to 30 members. This makes me chuckle but I admire their zeal for saving souls.
This policy began immediately after I came to Seoul Baptist because I did not approve of churches that grew by attracting people from neighboring churches. This felt to me like stealing sheep. So when members of other churches visited us, I called their pastor to let them know. But I soon realized that other pastors were offended by my calls. So I started telling the visitors themselves that they were not welcome to join our church. Despite this discouragement, many joined our church anyway. So I changed the policy. I asked visitors to visit other churches and give their best effort to like them. If they visited a church for four consecutive weeks and still did not like it, we would allow them to become members of our church, asking them to bring 4 Sunday worship bulletins as evidence. After a while, I realized that this policy also hurt the feelings of pastors at other church, because many people visited other churches perfunctorily, having already made up their mind to join our church.
So now our policy is simply that members of neighboring churches in Houston cannot join our church. There are only two exceptions: if their pastor asks me to allow them to join or if they have not attended a church for the last 2 years and their spouse is not a believer.
People who move to Houston are not allowed to join our church either if they are already Christians. We sometimes allow Christians to become members when their faith seems shaky but only under certain conditions. These conditions are: 1 – They agree to attend weekly house church meetings regularly; 2 – They come to the next Gospel Presentation Meeting; 3 – They attend the next session of the New Life Bible class.
Our church has become the biggest Korean church in Houston. If we don’t actively prohibit members of other area churches from joining us, we may end up stealing sheep. Our desire is to be a church that helps other churches, not hurt them.
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