IV. FELLOWSHIP WITH THE SAINTS
The elders should also do their best to contact and fellowship with all of the brothers and sisters. They should fellowship with the solid ones, and they should fellowship with the backslidden ones. They should fellowship with the weak ones, and they should fellowship with the strong ones. They should fellowship with the ones who are not gifted, and they should fellowship with the gifted ones. An elder has too many things to do. Some sisters who are sitting here are housewives. Everyone knows that in a family, no matter how many children there are, there is no end to the chores. You can leave your house alone day after day, or you can put work into it day after day. The same is true with the church. You can leave it to desolation, and let it grow by itself. The elders can come once a week to discuss a little, make some decisions, and then make some announcements in the prayer meetings. You can do this. But if you want to be another kind of elder, you will see that every day there are burdens, and every day you can be so busy. If the elders have a lot of free time, it will surely mean that the church in that place has no blessing. The more blessing there is, the more the church will be busy, like a marketplace. If you make a brother alive, imagine how many people he can bring into the church life! If you do not want to be busy, you can make the church dead. One will be cold, another will be backslidden. A third will be dried up, and a fourth will be dead. In the end, only you will be left, and you will not be busy at all. If you want to bring in the blessing, you will see that every day you are busy.
Brothers, I do not encourage others to lightly give up their occupations to serve the Lord full-time. But I want to tell the brothers and sisters that if all of you here would receive the burden to work for the Lord this way, even if every one of us would become full-time, we would still not meet the needs. If you make one brother alive, he will bring in three or five. If you make these ones alive, they may bring in twenty. Please consider, how can you handle this work?
Some have come to me for fellowship concerning the matter of serving full-time. They said that they have the heart and the burden, but they did not see the need. I told them that if they did not see the need, they did not have to force themselves to make the decision. But within me I said to myself that whether or not there is a need depends fully on yourself. If you work towards it, there will be a need. If you do not work, there will be no need. I believe the brothers and sisters understand what I mean. Try to work this way and see. If you serve the Lord by this way of fellowship, not only will one person be inadequate; even ten persons will not be adequate to meet today’s need. When you get through with every brother and sister, eventually, not only will they be raised up, but you will find out the feeling of the saints and will know where their needs are. The case of every brother and sister is thoroughly worked on by the elders. In this way, when the elders come together for fellowship, the sense will come and the leading will come; everyone will know what to do about the church. The elders’ leading and arrangement of the church is surely produced by this kind of fellowship. If the elders do not fellowship with each other, nor with the serving ones, and if they lack the fellowship with the brothers and sisters, it will be useless to have an elders’ meeting once in a while.
Hence, in order to receive guidance, the elders have to fellowship with God, with each other, with the serving ones, and with all of the saints as well. Only after the fellowship in these few aspects becomes thorough should they come together to seek God’s guidance. This is the principle of the judgment of the breastplate by the priests. The elders must bring all of God’s people before Him before they can receive God’s guidance.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)