ADVANTAGES OF SMALL GROUP MEETINGS
Due to the degradation of the church, the way of meeting from house to house was completely lost, and thus, the church had no way to propagate and increase. Meeting from house to house has many advantages. On the day of Pentecost the newly saved and baptized ones all became constituents of the church and were then distributed to meet in different homes. Among the saints at that time, about one hundred and twenty, such as Peter and Mary, were somewhat experienced. These one hundred and twenty people could have taken care of only a hundred and twenty homes at the most; there was no one to take care of and lead the remaining homes. Therefore, this afforded the Holy Spirit a great opportunity to do a particular work so that the newly saved ones would all be led by the Holy Spirit.
Hence, the first advantage of the small group meeting is that it gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to work. If in a meeting everything is prearranged, then there is no opportunity for the Holy Spirit to do any work. In the traditional Christian worship service, everything is prearranged; the program sheet clearly prints what time the service begins, who reads the Scriptures, which pastor leads the prayer, who preaches the sermon, who sings the solo, and so forth. Since everything is prearranged, the Holy Spirit has no opportunity to work at all. We must realize that in the small group meeting the Holy Spirit has the opportunity to work; therefore, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to work freely.
The second advantage of the group meeting is that in it the saints are able to know each other. Because the number is small, they are able to know each other and care for each other. Third, the group meeting creates plenty of opportunities for every saved person to develop the grace he has obtained and to manifest the gift he has received in the Holy Spirit. Fourth, the group meeting provides the greatest opportunity for everyone to function. We need to do this at the very beginning of the church life; otherwise, once a habit is formed, it will be hard to change in the future.
Besides all these, the group meeting also has the advantage of making it easy to lead people to salvation. Formerly, when a person wanted to be baptized, he had to pass through an interview, and the elders had to designate someone to baptize him and assign another one to be in charge of the baptism. Now with the small groups, every group can preach the gospel, the gospel can be widely preached, and the number of saved ones can increase rapidly. With so many to baptize, it would not work, nor would it be sufficient, to depend on arrangements. Therefore, wherever there is water for baptism, we can baptize people. We absolutely believe that if the churches would divide into small groups in a good way, we could bring in thousands of saved ones.
THE CHRISTIAN WAY OF MEETING NEEDING TO BE TWO-SIDED
According to the Scriptures, the Christian way of meeting has to be two-sided. On one side are the big meetings, and on the other side are the small group meetings. These two sides are just like the two wings of an eagle, which are the same size and are balanced. Here let us consider not only church meetings but also all kinds of Christian meetings. Some Christian meetings seem to be church meetings, but they do not possess the definite nature of the church meetings. On the day of Pentecost, Peter’s preaching to the people cannot be considered a church meeting. It did not have the nature of the church because at that moment the church had not been produced. After Peter finished preaching the gospel, three thousand people believed and were baptized. Once these three thousand were baptized, they were baptized into the church, and thus the church was produced. Then they began to meet from house to house; those meetings were church meetings. Therefore, the big meetings usually do not bear the nature of the church.
Big meetings are for bringing in people. This was what the Lord Jesus and the apostles did; they gained many people by making use of any available time and place. Frequently this meant preaching the gospel in the synagogues on the Sabbath. The apostle Paul also did this often in Acts. Today our convenient time is the Lord’s Day. The whole world is under the influence of Christianity, and every Sunday—the day that Christians call the Lord’s Day—ninety percent of the shops, factories, schools, and offices are closed for rest. This has become the common practice over almost the whole world, including even the Communist countries. Therefore, the Lord’s Day is a day when people have leisure time. We should use this day to release the truth, just like the Lord Jesus did in preaching on the Sabbath in the synagogues.
Although we hope to change the system of our meetings by paying more attention to the group meetings, we should not forsake this one day—the Lord’s Day. We should use the Lord’s Day to have big meetings for the release of the truth or for gospel preaching to gain people. Hence, we may call the meeting on the Lord’s Day the truth meeting. The Lord’s Day can be for releasing the truth. Releasing the truth includes preaching the gospel, leading people to salvation, edifying the saints, and helping them to grow in life. These are all related to the release of the truth.
(Speaking for God, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)