House Church is where everyone feels comfortable with each other. But because the atmosphere is warm and comfortable, it is easy to be careless with words. People often get hurt by small careless words, not big ones. But what we feel small is not small in its impact in our emotion. This is the reason why even a good family can have a messy emotional climate. It is because when you are comfortable, you care less about the impact but more about your intention. But relationship building is mostly about impact management.
So with all intentions aside, to prevent unnecessary relational dysfunction, especially for our unchurched friends, it would be good to remember the following three guidelines.
1. No politically-biased comments
We know that politics always divide not unite. Unlike favorite sports teams, people are more emotionally involved in politics because their political views often reflect their own beliefs about justice and social values. I’ve personally seen a simple politically-biased comment about a politician turned into an argument in house church setting. If possible, leave the politics outside house church setting. Usually, it either becomes a gossip or reason for an unnecessary argument anyways.
2. No Racial slur or jokes
We are way more ignorant in our understanding of other cultures than we assume. Our intention can be harmlessly identifying other race’s characteristics but its impact often is stereotyping a certain ethnic group or culture. If we are a multicultural congregation, then it is very important for us to celebrate each other’s difference than to spin it to make a laugh out of it. I’ve personally made this mistake when I was in high school and it still embarrasses me today. We’ve all regretted saying a certain word at the wrong time. If we don’t practice now, it can happen again.
3. No inside jokes
Since we have a lot of adult members who grew up in our youth group, it is easy for us to forget we have a special memory or group experiences which we don’t share with others who are new. It is not wrong to talk about it per se. But sharing it in the presence of people who are new can make them feel alienated unintentionally.
These guidelines all come down to this: We need to be honest and be aware of our bias. Everyone has a bias. But our goal is not to strengthen it but to correct it. We can never correct it perfectly but we can avoid becoming desensitized to our political, racial and cultural bias. Let’s hold each accountable with these guidelines so we can create a safe environment for our unchurched friends to belong and connect with Jesus, without having to jump over unnecessary hurdles.