Elders' Training, Book 10: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (2), by Witness Lee

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In the previous chapter I was simple to stress that we need to have the individual, direct contact with sinners through the proper skill. A better machine sometimes requires higher skill to operate. In the Lord’s recovery, the spreading of the gospel is a great thing. All sinners have been captured by God’s enemy, Satan. They are kept under Satan’s hand and in his kingdom. It is not that simple to get them out of his hand. This is the highest profession in the universe, and it requires the highest skill and the top technique.

Contacting people individually to transfer them into the kingdom of God is the highest spiritual "machine." Today people need to learn to use the computer because this is the computer age; otherwise, they will not be able to work effectively. We also need to learn to preach the gospel. We cannot change the truth of the gospel, but the way to preach the gospel must be changed and improved according to the Lord’s way to meet His need. If we still remained in our old style of eldership, I would be very grieved. We need improvement. The truth can never be changed, but our practice should be improved all the time. The eldership in its shepherding is for the purpose of raising up all the saints, all the members, to function.

In our preaching of the gospel, we have to learn, but we may not have the heart to learn. We may be filled up with our old way. By God’s mercy and grace, we have agreed to take the new way, to let the church go on in this way. But I am concerned that our taking of the new way is still by the old way. Actually, the "cargo" is still the old way. We may have improved our way of preaching the gospel, but that improvement may still be in the old way. The practice of one man preaching and the rest listening is the practice of the old way. The new way is to contact sinners individually and directly. This is the "computer way." I beg all of you who are for the recovery to learn this way.

In addition to learning the new way of preaching the gospel, we also need to be brought into the organic practice of prophesying for the building up of the church as the Body of Christ. There is a great need in the eldership today. If we are going to shepherd a church with the desire to make it living, we must know how to do two things in the "computer way"—gospel preaching and prophesying. Prophesying is not just a matter of standing up and releasing yourself by speaking in the meeting. There is a difference between prophesying, testifying, and ordinary speaking. Ordinary speaking is not prophesying. A person may speak a lot and still not prophesy. We may have the label of practicing 1 Corinthians 14, but in actuality we do not have the practice of 1 Corinthians 14. Our label may say one thing, but the cargo is different from the label. If the elders want their church to be living, fresh, and even refreshing, they must know how to preach the gospel and prophesy. They themselves must do these two things. These are the terms for us to fulfill the need in our present situation.

(Elders' Training, Book 10: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (2), Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)