CONTACTING PEOPLE NOT TO CONVINCE,
TO CATCH, OR TO ARREST, BUT TO RECOVER,
TO BRING PEOPLE BACK TO THE LORD
The elders’ contact with people is not to convince, to catch, or to arrest, but to recover, to bring people back to the Lord (Gal. 6:1). The elders are not policemen sent by the Lord to catch people and arrest them. Rather, they are sent to recover, to bring people back to the Lord. Sometimes the elders catch and arrest people by convincing them that they are wrong. This is to care for a case in the realm of good and evil. To do this is to fall into Satan’s snare as Eve did. Once the elders are snared in this way, they cannot solve the case at hand. Rather, they become negatively involved. Whereas there were only two or three parties involved in the problem at first, now the elders have become parties involved in the problem. The reason for this trouble is that everyone was snared in the realm of good and evil.
When the leading ones in the church listen to a case, they must remember not to be snared by the knowledge of good and evil. They should realize that all the members, including themselves, need more Christ. The best way to get others out of the snare of the realm of good and evil is not to touch good and evil but minister Christ as life to them through the cross. In the past fifty-eight years, I have seen many cases in the church. Not one was properly solved by the judgment of good and evil. Once the elders make an issue of good and evil, a problem cannot be properly solved. We all must learn that when we contact people, we must stay away from the knowledge of good and evil. We must always remain in the Lord, realizing that what we and others need is the ministry of Christ. Our problem is the shortage of life.
SHEPHERDING THE SAINTS
BY CONTACTING THEM REPEATEDLY
The elders must have the experience of Christ as life so they will know how to help others. When someone is in need, they should contact him several times, but they should not touch the matter of who is wrong and who is right. They must also not be hasty in helping him. They should not be disappointed after the first contact. Often the first contact may not be very helpful. However, they should continue to go to the person in need. This is to shepherd the saints. Perhaps on the first visit there will be no opportunity to minister anything, but eventually the elders will be able to minister Christ to the person involved. They will help him contact the Lord, and eventually they may have a chance to pray with him and bring him to the Lord in that prayer. Then he will touch the Lord, and once he touches the Lord, his problem will be cared for in the Lord.
When a local church has been established for a period of time, there will be some saints who do not come to the meetings. If we consider those who do not come, we will find that most of them have certain problems. Therefore, there is the need to shepherd them, to go to them again and again. We should not consider that to go to the weaker ones is a waste of time. Rather, this is the way to keep the existing members in the church. We should not expect that we can help them by one visit alone. Rather, we should continue to go to them until we bring them to contact the Lord. Then they will get the help. If we desire that someone be gained by the Lord, we have to go to them, possibly for one or two years. Only the proper contact with people to bring them to the Lord can gain them. There is no other way.
(Elders' Training, Book 11: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (3), Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)