The last 3 weeks of travel in the US and Korea have encouraged me greatly, giving me confidence that the house church movement will stick. To be honest, I had been discouraged because so many pastors had experienced misunderstandings and criticism as they attempted to convert their churches to house churches. Some left their churches as a result. Some even lost their health due to too much stress.
Some pastors tried to minimize conflict by implementing modified house churches with the result that they were not house “churches” any more, but small groups. Such things discouraged me and made me wonder whether I was lying when I claimed that “house churches are the New Testament church, the model for all places in all ages.” I began to wonder if house churches are only possible under certain favorable conditions with a certain type of leadership.
But during my last trip, God opened my eyes to see that house churches are flourishing in many places and that the movement would endure. The reason for this confidence is that the third generation of house churches has already been established.
Any kind of movement needs a third generation to ensure that it will continue for generations more. Take cell churches as an example. There are many slightly different kinds of cell churches. For a certain type of cell church to become successful there needs to be a model church based on that cell church type’s principles. But that’s not enough. There also need to be churches established after the model church. But that is not enough either. A third generation of churches should be established with help from second generation churches. Then that type of cell church will continue to spread, because even after the first generation church ceases to exist and the founding fathers of the church pass away, the model will continue to exist and propagate.
There are numerous seminars and conferences on cell churches offered by many different groups. But some advocates do not have even a single model church after so many years of promotion. Others have a model church but do not yet have another church modeled after it. Others have second generation churches but have not been successful in creating third generation churches.
In our case the third generation of house churches has already been established. Our church is the first generation. There are 5-6 year old house churches patterned after our church. Atlanta Korean Baptist Church and the Open Door Church in Korea are good examples. House churches are now beginning to form started by pastors who attended house church seminars offered by second generation churches. These churches are rightly called the third generation. Some of these third generation churches have already started helping other pastors start house churches.
I think that it’s a miracle that the third generation has been formed in a short period of 12 to 13 years. I believe that God has worked through us when we obeyed His call to recover the New Testament church. I want to thank all our church members, especially our shepherds and their spouses, for their dedication and sacrifice that made this accomplishment possible.
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