Some church members complain that our church is too bureaucratic. At many churches, newcomers become members simply by coming regularly, but our church asks people to come forward during worship services and fill in commitment cards before they can become members. Other churches give voting rights to everyone who’s been a member for a certain time, but we ask people to be baptized and apply if they want to become voting members. Ordinary churches welcome all volunteers to serve at their churches but our church asks people to complete the New Life Bible class before they’re allowed to serve.
We’re not simply being bureaucratic; we’re trying to be faithful to the Great Commission, which says that the purpose of the church is to reach non-believers and make them disciples of Jesus. Becoming a disciple of Jesus is a privilege that requires commitment and sacrifice. So we ask people to voluntarily commit themselves at every step in becoming full members of our church.
Complaints about our requirements usually don’t come from new believers but from people who used to attend traditional churches. Traditional churches rarely ask their members to make sacrifices but try to accommodate them and make them comfortable.
But being comfortable is not the same thing as being happy. On the contrary, the hard church life, not the comfortable one, is what makes people happy. Just look at shepherds and their spouses. They are the busiest people in our church but also the happiest.
If you try to make church life easy, it will actually become harder. Some churches, when implementing the house church, allow their house churches to meet only every other week because their members complain that meeting every week is too difficult. But meeting every other week makes things harder, because when they don’t meet weekly, members’ personal problems can’t be resolved at their house church meetings. For example, when house church members have marital problems, they’re more easily resolved when they meet weekly because their relationships must be checked up on every week to be improved. If they meet every other week, continuity is lost and their marriage problems won’t be solved. When house church members believe that their problems aren’t addressed at house church meetings, they won’t reveal their personal problems. Then house church sharing becomes superficial and people begin to wonder why they should even attend, making the meetings a burden for them.
It’s not making things easy but making things hard that gives true satisfaction and happiness in life. If Yuna Kim had sought an easy life, she wouldn’t have experienced the thrill of becoming an Olympic figure-skating champion and giving pride and joy to Koreans all over the world.
Churches should not waste their members’ time and energy on trivial things. But if something is important and worthy, church leaders must ask members for dedication and sacrifice. Good leaders aren’t those who make their church members comfortable, but those who challenge their members for a worthy cause.
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