BRINGING THE NEW ONES TO THE GROUP MEETINGS
At the beginning of this term of training, we encouraged you to go back to the homes of the newly baptized ones in order to meet with them in their homes to nourish and cherish them. We also encouraged you to bring the new ones into the group meetings after a while, which we did not specify. At the beginning of this term, however, we did not encourage you to form group meetings with the new ones. But now, through the practice of the last few months, we have realized that it is best to try to bring the newly baptized ones into a group meeting as soon as possible. If a group meeting has not been established, you should form one with the newly baptized believer and the other members of your team. If the newly baptized one is a brother, it would be best to go back with at least one brother in your team. In a sense, your going back to visit the new one is the principle of a home meeting, but after a while that home meeting could become a group meeting.
First, you should begin to nourish and cherish the new one. Then, you should begin to practice the things of the group meeting, such as fellowship, intercession, care, and shepherding. If you baptize some others in other homes, you should try to gather them together into this group as soon as possible. If you do not bring them to the group meetings, after a few months, they will lose their taste and interest for the home meetings in their homes. The group meeting will stir up their interest again. Our returning to feed them in the home meetings can be likened to the regular feeding of a nursing mother. After a few months of feeding the new child regularly, when the mother tries to nurse her child, the child will be naughty, refusing to eat. The child would rather play than eat. But, if some other babies are brought in, the interest of the young child is renewed again. It is the same for the new ones in the home meetings. If you go back to visit them repeatedly, after a few months, they will lose their taste for that kind of meeting. The best way to take care of the new ones at this point is to bring other new ones together with them in a group meeting. They will begin to converse with each other, and their interest will be recovered. By grouping them together, they will also begin to be built up together with others. They will become like burning coals placed together to build and keep a strong fire. Thus, this kind of grouping will be a great benefit to them. Therefore, if we are serious about taking the new way, we must try our best to bring the newly baptized ones together to form group meetings as soon as possible.
THE PROBLEM OF OLDNESS IN THE GROUP MEETINGS
The problem among us today is that some of the groups which have been meeting for several months are full of oldness. I would advise you as visiting ones not to bring the new ones into these older group meetings. These older group meetings are like a Chinese household which has emigrated to the United States. The older ones in the family can only speak Chinese, but the children of the family have learned to speak English. It is difficult for the older ones to change their language from Chinese to English. But the younger ones find it very easy to do so. Though the younger ones may try to teach the older ones to speak English, eventually, the older ones would still prefer to speak Chinese. It is the same in the group meetings. The older ones by habit practice in an old way. The younger ones, however, only know to practice in the new way. Yet, they can be influenced by the older ones. The older ones may not be influenced very much by the newness of the new ones, but the new ones could be very influenced by the oldness of the older ones. This kind of influence is a problem in the group meetings; therefore, it is better to have two different types of group meetings.
CHANGING FROM THE OLD WAY TO THE NEW WAY
The conclusion of the new way in our understanding is that we must build up the group meetings. The need to build up the group meetings is very urgent. But in building up the group meetings, I encourage you to have two groups, an old group and a new group. Because we are in a transitory period of time, changing from the old way to the new way, it is better and necessary to keep these two different types of group meetings. The first type of group meeting would be composed of saints who have been meeting in groups for a long time. The other type of group meeting is the one formed with the newly baptized ones. The first type of meeting is composed of saints who are in full agreement with the new way, but due to their habit in the old way, they take the new way according to the steps of the old way. They take the form of the new way, but with the habit of the old way. Eventually, this kind of practice is just a repeat of the old way. In many of the existing group meetings, the old way of meeting was unconsciously repeated. We should not annul these existing groups; we should try to help them. Gradually, they will pick up some of the aspects of the new way.
The second type of group meetings is the result of our going out as lambs in the midst of wolves (Luke 10:3) to find the sons of peace (v. 6). If we go out regularly, we will find the chosen ones. Since we have realized the need to visit our relatives, friends, neighbors, and other acquaintances, there is not that much need for us to knock on “cold doors.” We can simply make appointments to visit our relatives, friends, neighbors, and acquaintances, and from among these, we will surely find some who have been chosen of God. When we find these chosen ones, we should form them into groups as soon as possible.
(The Exercise and Practice of the God-Ordained Way, Chapter 29, by Witness Lee)