Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the house church seminar for lay leaders in Houston. After becoming a shepherd in July, I wanted to gain more insight and understanding on house church ministry, which is why I decided to attend the seminar. Going to Houston was exciting but before I left I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was thankful because being a shepherd for 3 months I didn’t struggle with any major concerns. I knew I wasn’t attending the seminar to learn how to fix my problem but instead, I went with a curiosity of what God would reveal to me during this season of my life. Now that I am back, I can share with you that it was a very encouraging experience for me. Everything that I learned during the seminar lectures were the things I had already learned from Pastor Caleb. However, God gave me a lot of encouragement and confirmation specifically through this house church seminar.
To share some background information, the church that hosted this seminar is called New Life Fellowship. Just like how we are The Seed of Mokmin Church, NLF is the English ministry of Seoul Baptist Church of Houston. It is intergenerational and multicultural and made up of 75 house churches. My initial reaction to the church was “WOW” because it was very big and filled with people from many different cultures. The seminar consisted of two full days of lectures and testimonies, an opportunity to visit a house church, and experience Sunday service. As I shared before, God encouraged me in many ways and I was able to receive that encouragement through the three different parts of the seminar.
The first encouragement I received was from seeing the church members of NLF serve. However it wasn’t in a way where I was comparing and thinking “I hope our church can serve like that” but more in a way where I felt “wow, The Seed is already serving this way”. It was very obvious that NLF prepared a lot for all of the participants attending the seminar and you could tell how much everyone had a servant heart. As I saw this, I really felt like the people in our church were exactly the same when it came to serving and I was very encouraged and more thankful for The Seed in that moment.
The second encouragement I received was through one shepherd’s testimony. This shepherd shared that he had been serving as a shepherd for over 10 years. When he first started serving he was in his early 20s, which is similar to my age now. The shepherd shared that it took 8 years before his house church multiplied and grew. Though he talked about the difficulties of that long period, he said that the joy he felt when the house church multiplied was so overwhelming because he realized how God was working in him through those 8 years he spent not giving up and trusting in God. I learned that growth in any area of our life is never in a straight line going up, but growth is more in the shape of stairs; where things feel stagnant for a long period of time and then suddenly we experience change, only to go through a dull period again and then a sudden growth again. During this time, I was really encouraged because I was able to apply this to my life and reflect on the importance of patience and trusting God’s plan.
The third encouragement I received was through visiting one of the house churches. I was very surprised with how multicultural the house church was as it consisted of an Iraqi couple, Taiwanese couple, and a Chinese Korean couple. I was encouraged because it reminded me that just because the majority of our church is Korean, that doesn’t mean we should only reach out to Koreans. It really challenged me to step out of my comfort zone when inviting friends to house church. I was reminded of the importance of knowing that Jesus is never limited to cultures and it was inspiring to see people from such different backgrounds gather and do house church the exact same way that we do.
The last encouragement that I want to share was one that I received from Pastor Eric’s words. One thing that he repeatedly said throughout the seminar was “be FAT”. It was unexpected and confusing until he explained that FAT was an acronym for being faithful, available, and teachable. He emphasized the importance of remaining faithful through all circumstances, being available to serve, and being teachable meaning that you are able to put down your pride and receive advice thankfully. Hearing this was encouraging because I think it’s something I need to remind myself every day and hold on to; not only as a shepherd but also as a member of our church.
What really encouraged me though and gave me confirmation that I was meant to be at this seminar was that during the Sunday service at the end of his sermon, Pastor Eric called me out and said something so powerful. As he was on stage he said “Grace Kwack, you’re from Mokmin church in Toronto and I want you to know and continue serving your church and watch the ways God moves through you and your church members. It took 20 years for our church to grow and be where we are today. I know that God will do the same and work through your church too so that in 20 years it will grow to be as big as or even bigger than our church.” It is important to understand that he was not saying this to mean “the bigger the church is, the better” but he was emphasizing that through remaining faithful, available, and teachable, God will work in His wonderful ways.
At this time, I felt like God was speaking directly to me through Pastor Eric and was adding a cherry on top of all the encouragement I received that weekend. To be honest, I really missed our church a lot that Sunday and I’m so thankful for the community we have as The Seed. Through this house church seminar, I’ve become more expectant for how God will work through each one of us. Regardless of which area you serve in church, I hope that we can be FAT (faithful, available, teachable) together and see the way God moves.