Everybody know how many sacrifices Shepherds and their spouses make, in terms of time and money. Some new members think that their expenses are reimbursed by the church.
Of course, this is not true. The only benefit they get from our church is an expenses-paid annual retreat for Shepherds and their spouses.
We used to have this retreat at a denominational retreat center. The primary purpose of the retreat was training, but we encouraged Shepherds to bring their families and let them have some time together.
The retreats had been in other cities and required a long drive. So last year, we moved the annual retreat to the Sheraton Hotel in Houston. Having it at a luxury hotel was possible because the owner of the hotel, a friend of mine, gave us a deep discount.
Along with changing the venue, we modified the purpose of the retreat. Before, family time with the children was an important part of the retreat. The emphasis has shifted to Shepherds and their spouses having couples time at the hotel. I know that many Shepherds haven’t had the chance to spend a night alone with their spouses at a nice hotel since their honeymoons.
I’ve asked house church members to take care of their Shepherds’ children so that their Shepherds can focus on learning ministry skills through the seminars during the retreat, and so they can have a time of rest alone with their spouses.
On an unrelated note, I’d like to remind everyone about our principles regarding house church multiplication. Our policy is that when house church attendance is greater than 12 for four consecutive weeks, the house church multiplies. But lately, for various reasons, some house churches have divided although their attendance didn’t yet reach 12. Some multiplied because there were too many children to handle. Some did it as a sort of shock treatment when their members felt the groups were stagnant. Some split because the non-believers they were trying to reach felt uncomfortable with some of the existing members.
It’s hard to reach non-believers when there are too few house church members. So we’re instituting a new policy that requires a new house church to start with at least three families and four people.
When a Shepherd wants to start a brand new house church, this rule doesn’t apply. But a Shepherd couple must start the house church with at least one other member who has attended house church meetings regularly, because when a Shepherd starts a new house church alone, it’s difficult to add new members. Additionally, their house church meetings become irregular.
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