Elders' Training, Book 10: The Eldership and the God-ordained Way (2)by Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have surely seen the Lord’s blessing since we have taken His ordained way. There are a good number of new ones among us who have been saved into the Lord’s recovery in recent years. Many of them are open and seeking. This is very encouraging. This is the result of the blessing in the Lord’s new way. Thank the Lord that we are here for this way, yet thus far, one thing has not been ministered into our being.
We always think, talk, act, work, and do things according to what our being is. We were meeting, serving, and preaching the gospel in the old way for many years. Our practice in the past was too much in a natural way. Our thought concerning meeting, serving the Lord, and carrying out the preaching of the gospel so that sinners might be brought to the Lord is still according to the natural concept. The natural concept is to have preaching meetings as in Christianity. We may believe in the preaching by one professional person who has great capacity, ability, gift, and function. I would not say that this does not work. It does work to a certain extent. But through these recent years, under the Lord’s mercy, the Lord has shown me that this way is natural.
Then we may ask, “What way is not natural?” The personal contact with people is the way that is not natural. Recently, a number of small churches have been raised up in Southern California. These churches were not started by any worker or by any professional work. They began through brothers who moved to these new places. A number of the working saints among us could not afford a house in a big city, so they moved to suburbs and small towns. The dear saints in these small places brought in new ones but not through preaching meetings or conferences. They brought them in through personal contact.
A group of about five or six families may move to a new locality. Then they can gather together with the Word, with the Spirit, in the Lord’s name, and in the light of the recovery. When the saints move to new places, they just need to live the recovery. When ten saints are raised up in a new place, they may simply come together and have the Lord’s table. They do not need to declare that they are taking the ground. Although elders have not been appointed among them, they have spontaneously become the church there. The raising up of these new churches is evidence of the profit of gaining people for the Lord by our personal contact.
Thousands of people were saved in Jerusalem in the early days of the church. But eventually, the Lord allowed a great persecution to occur. Acts 8:1 says, “There occurred in that day a great persecution against the church which was in Jerusalem; and all were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria, except the apostles.” All the saints, thousands of them, were scattered to preach the gospel. Verse 4 says, “Those therefore who were scattered went throughout the land announcing the word as the gospel.” Their being scattered issued in the spreading of the gospel. New ones were brought in not by preaching meetings but by each saint’s personal preaching and personal contact with others. I did not see this in the past as emphatically as I do now.
Years ago I thought that in order to gain people, we had to have a proper preacher with a big meeting. The saints could be used as a means to bring people to this meeting. By listening to the preaching, these people could be saved. We did this for years. I thought in the past that this practice was needed and was prevailing. Today I realize that it was not that prevailing. During the past seventy years of our history, from 1920 to the present time, that way never brought us an increase of over twenty percent. I have been in the recovery for sixty-one years, and I have seen this through my experience. We found out that the old way of one person speaking and the rest listening was not that satisfactory.
By the Lord’s mercy, the recovery has spread to all the major continents. There are over thirteen hundred churches throughout the earth. Most of these local churches, though, are small. Of course, according to history, there has not been a church in Christianity that has continuously had an increase of thirty percent. If any church had a continual increase of even twenty percent, that would be a very flourishing church. We have not reached this percentage of increase in a continual way. We have to admit that the old way of having preaching meetings with a gifted preacher is not the spiritual way. That is the natural way.
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