Waiting Is Not Everything

One of the core values of the house church is “waiting.” We don’t push nonbelievers but wait patiently for them to accept Christ. The same goes for new Christians and their spiritual growth. There are many moving stories about infinitely patient shepherds in our church who eventually saw hard-headed people receive Christ and selfish people become servants.

Like anything else, however, waiting has a downside: it may create an unhealthy culture in a house church. For example, in some house churches, members take it for granted that they’ll meet at their Shepherds’ house every week instead of taking turns. In some house churches, members only attend house church meetings and don’t come to Sunday worship services. In some house churches, members come to Sunday worship services but don’t take the Living Life Bible class. In some house churches, members take the Living Life Bible class but don’t accept Christ. An unhealthy house church culture that is content with waiting forever influences newcomers, making them like old members.

Unhealthy house church cultures make it hard for shepherds and their spouses to serve, but they’re the ones to blame because they didn’t intervene when these cultures were still forming. They probably didn’t act because they considered waiting the supreme virtue. It’s not. It’s neither loving nor charitable to simply wait.

Most of our new church members are temporary residents of Houston. They are international students (mostly from Korea), medical trainees, visiting professors, and businessmen. The time we have with them to help them know God and Jesus is limited. Just waiting for them to become interested in spiritual things may deprive them of knowing God and receiving Jesus. We may need to prod them rather than simply wait.

I’ve heard that in Pastor Lee’s house church, it’s unthinkable to come to only house church meetings and not attend Sunday worship services because it’s the house church’s culture to attend both. His house church members become Christians in a short time and experience rapid spiritual growth because of their culture. How has he created such a healthy culture? He and his wife love their members like their own flesh and blood but are firm in demanding that they follow our church’s rules.

Other Shepherds should probably not copy what Pastor Lee did with his house church because their members are considerably older than Pastor Lee’s and they may resist such demands. Each shepherd must decide how long they should wait and how forcibly they should push. But one thing is certain: waiting is not everything. You may miss out on opportunities and deprive your house church members of the chance to be saved or to grow spiritually. You must act fast before unhealthy cultures are formed and new members are hampered from growing spiritually.

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