DROPPING THE OLD WAY
AND TAKING THE NEW WAY
Beginning in October of 1984, I began to express my concern about the low rate of increase in the churches. In Taipei we had come to a standstill. When I left Taipei in 1961, the total number of saints in the church in Taipei was over twenty-two thousand. By 1984 the church in Taipei had only eleven thousand members left. Within twenty-three years the number came down to eleven thousand. In the last ten years in the United States, due to the defamation of some books, the rate of our increase has been just about three percent. This is too low. After studying our situation, I began to reconsider the Bible in this matter, and I also began to reconsider the history of the denominations. I became clear that all of Christianity, including us, got off from the Lord’s way. Thus, I was quite bold in Taipei to tell them that they must change by getting off the old way, and getting on the new way.
The old way is to always have big meetings, a congregation with a speaker. This produces clergy, a hierarchical class with most of the others not functioning. Taking the way of a big congregation with a speaker produces hierarchy and also produces organization. The organizational way is to have clergy and a congregation and to raise up money to hire trained preachers. People are first brought into this way, and then their function is killed. This is the way of Christianity. Brother Nee told us repeatedly and insisted strongly that we give up the Lord’s Day morning meeting in the churches. He proposed that we use that time to go out to preach the gospel. In Brother Nee’s book, The Normal Christian Church Life, there is a section on the home meetings (pp. 195-200). He told us that we needed to have meetings of mutuality, not meetings where one speaks and the other saints sit there to listen. We tried this, but we never carried it out because of the heavy background and influence from Christianity.
The situation in Taipei in 1984 was nearly the same as what was practiced by Christianity. Therefore, I had the boldness to tell the church there that the old way should be put aside, and that they should take the new way according to what is in the Bible. At the very beginning of the church life, according to the first record of Christian meetings, the apostles spoke in the temple to a big congregation for the preaching of the truth, yet the believers met "from house to house" (Acts 2:46). In Greek this means that they met according to the houses. Each and every house was a meeting place; the meeting number was according to the houses. After the day of Pentecost when they were baptized, they met according to the homes. They did not have hired speakers, but they had the church life in their homes. They also met in the temple, but this was according to their tradition and habit and not according to God’s economy. That was not the church life.
The more we studied the situation according to the truth of the New Testament and according to our experience, the more we were assured that the right way is to have the church life built up in the homes. First Corinthians 14 talks about the whole church coming together in one place (v. 23). But this is not a meeting of only a few speakers but a meeting in which "each one has" (14:26), a meeting full of mutuality. The old Christianity way of one speaking and the others sitting to listen kills the church life.
(Being Desperate and Living Uniquely for the Gospel, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)