I just came back from the House Church Conference for Pastors sponsored by Mannam Church in Southern California. It was the 49th House Church conference. We also just finished the 87th House Church Seminar for Pastors and the 219th Seminar for lay people. It all started when we decided to offer a seminar on the House Church in October 1996. We never expected to start a movement.
I didn’t start the House Church with a grand dream of renewing today’s churches or restoring the New Testament church. I was simply discouraged by the sad state that many churches were in. Most Korean churches seemed to have deviated in practice from those in the Bible. I was determined to make Seoul Baptist Church as much like a New Testament church as possible. This simple desire started the House Church movement.
Even the first House Church seminar was not initiated by myself; I was coaxed into it by a Christian publisher. When he suggested that we would hold a seminar, I was hesitant. Both me and our church were unknown. Who would come? But he insisted that there was strong interest in the house church and that people would come.
My fear that no one would come persisted until the day the seminar started. When Deacon Yoo, chairman of our board of deacons at the time, put up a banner that said, “The First House Church Seminar for Pastors” I asked him to remove “The First” because the phrase implied that there would be more seminars and I was unsure that there would even be a second one. To my surprise, 34 people attended the seminar. One attendee was Pastor Jae Jung Kim, who now serves as the North American Coordinator for House Church Ministries International.
My primary interest in holding the seminar was to help pastors whose church membership was less than 50. I felt that if their memberships grew to 100 by implementing the house church and reaching nonbelievers, all the effort and sacrifice we made to sponsor the seminar would be justified.
We decided to return attendees’ registration fees when they completed the seminar. But without registration fees, our church could not afford to put them up in a hotel. So I asked our church members to host seminar attendees in their homes.
Looking back, these two customs reflect the serving spirit and disciple-making method of the house church – teaching by modeling – very well. I think that these ideas were not my own but given from God.
Reflecting on the beginning and the subsequent spreading of the House Church movement, I can’t help but believe that it was initiated by God and continues to be sustained by Him.
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