I finished visiting ESC house churches with Rosalyn last week. During house church visit, I eat meals with house church members and hold a Q&A session so that members can ask me any questions regarding faith, church, relationships and etc. I was asked one question which I felt the need to elaborate on this to all our church members. The question was, “Is it a rule in House Church for men to do the dishwashing?”
To put it simply, it is not a rule but a strong recommendation. There are a couple of reasons why.
First of all, It saves time. Men usually finish their meals faster than women. So instead of lingering to chat after finishing the meal, men can go straight to the kitchen and start doing the dishes. It saves a lot of meeting time. In fact, one of the main culprits of house church meeting ending too late is lingering “after-meal” time. Also, ladies usually serve food so it will give them a short break as well.
Secondly, it establishes the right male leadership. Dishwashing has a tremendous visual education effect for other male members, and children as well. In our still male-dominant society, male leadership in marketplaces or at home is often expressed through various forms of domination and power. The higher you are (in position or authority), the more you expect to be served. Jesus changed this dynamic once for all when he washed his disciples’ feet. This was normally a slaves’ job during Jesus time. When his disciples were fighting over who is greater among them, Jesus demonstrated that he came to serve though he was the Son of God. This leadership translates into happy, fulfilling marriage or dating relationships as well.
Lastly and most importantly, building a culture of serving is one of the most effective ways to help VIPs (non-Christians) understand why Christian community is different. Jesus washed disciples feet. He intentionally did that because he wanted that imagery to affect everything his followers would do every time they are gathered. We can’t wash each other’s feet every week (though you can try) but we guys can wash dishes every week! Building a culture often starts from the repetition of powerful and yet seemingly small behaviors, like dishwashing.
Even if you use a dishwasher, men can still rinse and put dishes on the rack. This is not a matter of efficiency but keeping the spirit of house church alive. House church stands out to outsiders if we simply demonstrate love and serving heart because what is normal in this world is competition and ruling.
So if you are a male and attend house church, I encourage you to be the first one in the kitchen after the meal at your next house church meeting to exercise your servant leadership. I think Jesus will be pretty happy to see his male followers fighting over who gets to do the dishwashing.