Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), by Witness Lee

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Furthermore, the practice of the saints in the early church was to meet in their homes (Acts 2:46; 5:42; 20:20). To gain the increase, we need to have the home meetings. The church has been dead, passive, and low in the rate of increase because we did not have the crucial way to gain people through the home meetings. We need to have meetings in the new believers’ homes, in the homes of the ones we gain through our preaching of the gospel. If we can only gain people without setting up meetings in their homes, this will be a failure. The most successful way is to gain people’s homes for home meetings. Meetings in the homes will work to the uttermost.

Seemingly, it was a risk to have such a change among us. But actually it was not a risk because we have the word of the Lord as a base for our practice. Acts tells us that when the church was initially established, the believers met from house to house. Meeting in homes as the Christian way of meeting together is fitting to God’s New Testament economy. This way differs from the Judaic way of meeting in the synagogues (Acts 6:9). It became a continual and general practice in the churches (cf. Rom. 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:15; Philem. 2). The three thousand that were saved on the day of Pentecost immediately began to meet from house to house.

To overthrow the old way of meeting is to make the so-called clergy jobless. Then the building of the clergy is torn down, and the producing of the clergy has no opportunity. If we mean business with the Lord in sincerity to take the new way, this will overthrow the clergy-laity system. Those of us who love the Lord and His recovery have to realize that our old way of meeting with one speaking and the rest listening was according to the traditional and unscriptural practice of Christianity. We said that we dropped Christianity and that we left Christianity, but we still brought some part of the practice of Christianity with us and continued to keep it. As long as we prefer to have big meetings with one speaking and the rest listening, we are a continuation of Christianity in some sense.

We cannot deny that many people have been brought to the Lord through the old way of meeting with big congregations. But there is another fact which no one can deny either, that is, that the old practice kills the functions of the members of Christ. The way of Christianity builds up hierarchy. It builds up the clergy and produces the laity. This way has both a credit side and a debit side. However, the failure on the debit side is much greater than any success on the credit side. Would we still take a way that causes us to suffer so much loss, the loss of the functioning of the members of the Body of Christ?

Brother Nee’s eyes were opened long ago to see the truth concerning the church meetings in mutuality with all the saints functioning. But at that time, we were not so clear how to handle the situation. Today we need to have a change to the God-ordained way of meeting and serving for the building up of the Body of Christ.

(Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)