House Church ministry is based on service. Jesus said that he came not to be served but to serve. He also said that whoever wants to be first must be a servant of all. Churches became weak when the leaders they select are willing to manage but not to serve. One mission of the House Church is to restore servant leadership.
Authority comes from sacrificial service. A diminutive mother can make her huge football-playing son obey her because she has authority that comes from many years of sacrificial caretaking. In our church, some Shepherds are younger, less educated, and make less money than their House Church members, but they are respected and obeyed because they serve their house church members sacrificially.
When traditional churches convert to house churches, we advise new Shepherds to hold house church meetings at their homes and serve good food for six months to earn their members’ respect and gain authority by sacrificially serving.
Some non-believers may take advantage of Shepherds’ willingness to serve. Still, Shepherds must continue to serve. Non-believers must be touched by the unconditional love of Jesus through Shepherds’ sacrificial service before they become interested in Jesus. Some new believers may demand to be served continuously. Still, Shepherds must continue to serve. This is the only way to help them get out of their self-centered lifestyles and become people who serve.
However, there is one group of people whom Shepherds need to challenge rather than serve: those who have been Christians for a long time.
At one church that was about to convert to the House Church, a long-time member who was a church officer refused to become a Shepherd. Instead, he demanded that his newly appointed Shepherd serve him, saying, “The primary responsibility of a Shepherd is to serve others. So I want to see how sacrificially you serve me.” People like this should not be served but challenged. If they are offended and threaten to leave the church, let them. Complying with their demands essentially allows them to remain spiritual babies.
The true purpose of the church is two-fold: to reach non-believers and make them disciples of Jesus. Neither aspect should be neglected. When you keep serving those who have been church members for a long time, you hinder them from becoming disciples of Jesus.
Service is one of the most important ministry tools in House Church ministry. But it must be used wisely. We must exercise wisdom in deciding when to serve and when to challenge.
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