I recently heard about an incident where one of our church members advised a pastor in the Houston area to attend a House Church seminar, which upset him.
I understand the member’s good intentions but his actions were unwise. We shouldn’t expect local pastors to come to our House Church seminars unless they have extraordinarily strong desires to restore the New Testament church. There are many reasons why local pastors can’t come, pride being one of them. The member should have realized that he put unnecessary pressure on the pastor by asking him to attend the seminar when he could not or would not want to do so.
I urge our church members to not ask local pastors to come to House Church seminars or tell members of other churches about the House Church. It will only provoke rejection.
Pastor Lee now represents our church in associational meetings so I don’t know whether things have changed, but when I attended them, pastors often complained about our policy that forbids members of other local churches from becoming members of our church. Their complaint was that even though it was our official policy, in reality we did accept their church members as our own.
I tried to explain that believers who moved to Houston from Korea were sometimes allowed to become our church members, but we didn’t allow members of local churches to become our members, although there had admittedly been a few exceptions. But it seemed that the more I explained, the more upset they got. So eventually, instead of explaining and defending our policy, I simply said “yes, sometimes local church members sneak into our church.”
I urge you to not talk to members of other local churches about our church membership policy, the House Church, our children’s department and our staff members. Many people may feel that we’re bragging and become resentful.
We should only talk about our membership policy with those who visit our church. It’s only necessary to explain it when members of other local churches want to join ours. For everyone else, we don’t need to talk about it.
We do sometimes make exceptions to this policy but do it with extreme caution: a committee consisting of Pastor Lee, the chairman of deacons, and myself must agree unanimously that there is a strong enough reason for making an exception. We also post on our Shepherds’ website the reasons for the exception to alleviate misunderstanding. Only one or two exceptions are made each year.
Other churches seem to feel that as long as there are exceptions, we shouldn’t say that we don’t accept members of other churches. So it may be wise to simply say that we sometimes accept members of other churches as exceptions.