We as a church are committed to save the lost and make them disciples of Christ. One statistic says that about 18% of the US population attends church regularly, and by “regularly,” it meant attending church three Sundays out of eight. And Texas is right at about the national average of 18%. Therefore, it is safe to say that at most 20% of Houstonians attend church regularly according to their definition but sporadically according to New Life’s definition. This is a very discouraging report. What is even more discouraging is that the vast majority of churches are not reaching out to the unchurched unbelievers. I believe there are two main reasons why they are not reaching out to them. First, it is because they don’t know how. Second, it is because they know that it is very difficult. As a result, they opt out for an easy solution: making their churches big through transfer growth. These churches are given the false sense that their churches are growing by adding believers from different churches to their number. But they are totally blind to the fact that there is no net gain from God’s kingdom perspective. This surely is not what God wanted His churches to do.
That’s why New Life is committed to reach out to unchurched unbelievers in our city, those 80% of the people who haven’t heard about the Gospel and don’t attend church regularly, through our House Church Ministry. Therefore, we do not allow Christians from different churches in Houston to come to and join New Life. I am aware that there have been a few exceptions to this in the past. However, unless there is an extremely convincing reason to do so, we don’t allow this to happen. And even if we refuse to allow them to join us, there are plenty of churches in Houston that will welcome them. Moreover, we are wary of those who leave their churches for trivial reasons such as not getting along with other members, not liking the pastor’s message, or dissatisfaction with the children’s program. So, New Life, please do not encourage or invite your friends or acquaintances who are already attending another church in Houston.
But what do we do with a believer from a different city who has moved to Houston and is looking for a church community and tries to join New Life? The very first thing we need to do is to encourage him to look for and attend another church because the kind of church that he is looking for and is familiar with is probably not New Life. If he takes our recommendations and goes to another church, then that’s great. There is no kingdom loss.
However, if the person truly wants to come to New Life, then we will have him do the following:
1. He must join a house church right away and faithfully attend it.
2. He must attend the Receiving Jesus Meeting, take the Membership Class and become a New Life member within the first three months.
3. He must take Living Life Bible Study within one year since we offer the class twice each year.
After the person is presented with these policies, if he says he would love to do all three but needs a little more time because of his work schedule, then we will accommodate his schedule to a certain extent. However, if the person firmly refuses to do all three, then we will respectfully ask him to look for another church in Houston.
I would like to ask everyone to remember these policies and uphold them. Some house churches are struggling because their number has been small for some time. I understand this. You regularly need new comers for you to experience excitement and joy. However, these newcomers must be your VIP’s, not those who already believe.
If you don’t respect these policies and do your own thing, then you will surely run into a lot of headaches and difficulties. Those believers who come from different cities who refuse to respect our policies will often create tension and stress in our house churches and will set bad examples for those VIP’s that we are trying to reach out to. Two of the strongest marks of a mature Christian are humility and submission.
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Phil. 2: 5-8)
Don’t be fooled by a person’s church experience and Bible knowledge. If the person doesn’t exhibit a spirit of humility and submission, he is not a mature follower of Christ because “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.” (1 Cor. 8: 1)
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