One of our church’s unwritten rules is that church members serve both their house churches and the united church, which is Seoul Baptist Church. So most church members, not to mention Shepherds and their spouses, are involved in at least two ministries.
A couple years after we started the house church, we had a research organization measure the health of our church. According to them, our church scored highest among Korean-American churches in the U.S. Our scores were uniformly high across areas such as worship, education, and fellowship. Our only low score was in the area of “ministry”. But instead of being disappointed by this low score, I was glad.
Traditional churches mainly depend on programs for their ministries. But program-centered ministries involve only a few dedicated people to do the ministry, and most church members are left out. And most of these programs are designed to meet the needs of people who are already church members; they are ineffective in reaching non-believers.
I wanted our church to be a soul-saving church. So I didn’t give my support to programs that only benefited church members but focused my energy on building the house church. I was happy with the low score in “ministry” because I felt my policy of deemphasizing traditional church programs worked.
These days, we run many programs and many church members are involved. If the same research organization took a survey of our church today, we would score high in the area of ministry as well. I don’t mind church programs these days because our church members are now fully convinced of the importance of the Great Commission. In fact, all of our church programs are designed to further that cause.
When they’re not self-centered, church programs can do a lot of good for church members. Members can exercise their spiritual gifts, get satisfaction from works well done, and develop maturity while working with other people.
But we should not let our guard down. It’s easy for church programs to become inward rather than outward focused. It’s too easy to forget that church programs are simply tools to fulfill the Great Commission and make the successful running of church programs the end rather than the means.
I’d like to ask our church members to not neglect house church ministries because of united church programs. When conflicts arise between house church ministry and united church ministry, forcing you to make a choice, I encourage you to choose house church ministry. I’d also like to ask those in charge of church programs to examine them regularly to ensure that they continue to contribute to saving souls and making disciples of Jesus.
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