As you know, my wife and I visit a different house church each week. On occasion I find people who used to belong to a different house church. This might be a good time to remind everyone of our church’s policy on switching house churches.
It is our church’s policy that you cannot leave a house church once you become a member. The reason for this is that the house church is the training ground for Jesus’ disciples. Becoming His disciples means that you are becoming more like Him. One way in which this is accomplished is through human conflict. As you work to love people who are unlovable, live with people who are quarrelsome, and accept people who are totally different from you, you change into the likeness of Jesus. House churches are training grounds for such change.
Trying to be more like Jesus solely through Bible study and without human conflict is like trying to become a Taekwondo champion without sparring. Or like trying to become a great chef just by reading cookbooks, without actually cooking. If you move to another house church whenever you have conflicts with other house church members, you will never have a chance to change into the likeness of Jesus. This is why our church has a “no switch” policy.
There is an exception: people who have been with our church for less than 6 months are allowed to switch. We recommend that new members visit several house churches before committing to one, but they usually settle at the house church of the friend who invited them to our church, and then find out that they do not really fit with that house church. We allow such people to switch to a different house church, but only within 6 months. If they have been with a house church for longer than 6 months, they are not allowed to switch, just like everyone else.
Of course, this is not the only case where house church switching is allowed. When members move a great distance, they are allowed to join closer house churches.
Whatever the situation, switching is only allowed with the shepherd’s consent. Before members are allowed to join a house church, the shepherd of that house church must check with the shepherd of the house church they came from. Some people simply tell their old shepherd that they are leaving and join another group, hurting the feelings of their old shepherds and their spouses. This shouldn’t happen to people who have been taking care of them. Shepherds are spiritual leaders. You must show respect. And shepherds must recognize each other’s authority.
There are people who move from one house church to another whenever conflicts arise. If shepherds welcome these people they are hurting them by depriving them of the chance to become like Jesus.
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