SHEPHERDING PEOPLE IN THE SMALL GROUP MEETINGS
The small group meetings are for the shepherding of the Lord’s sheep. Hence, in the small group meetings, not only must there be the feeding, there must also be the shepherding. First you have to gather three or four families together. You will not be speaking to one person but to a group of brothers and sisters. This is no longer just feeding, but shepherding, leading, and teaching as well. All these are based upon our experience of life.
In the small group meetings, not only can you help others to call on the name of the Lord; you can also help them to pray. You can lead them to confess their sins according to the inner sense. This is not just a kind of feeding but a kind of shepherding as well. Perhaps while a brother prays, the Lord will enlighten him, showing him that his attitude toward his wife is poor. At that time you have to help him to confess his sin to the Lord immediately. Following that, you have to help him further to find a chance to apologize to his wife. He may feel awkward doing that. There is then the need of shepherding. You have to help him with some words. You can say, “By ourselves, it is surely rather awkward to apologize. But we are all saved now and are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are also the Lord’s sheep. We are different from those in the world. For them, they would put anything aside that would make them feel awkward. But for us the saved ones, even if we feel awkward, we still have to apologize. We should not care too much for our face.” In this way, you will be shepherding him and will be helping him to grow in life.
Hence, the shepherding in the small group meetings does not necessarily follow the sequence of the Life Lessons or the Truth Lessons. Rather, it is according to our experience after salvation in how we meet the Lord and how in everything we are led by the Lord. These are the materials we use for our small group meetings. When we have the experience of life, and when we match with this the expression in truth, we have our own kind of “Truth Lesson” for the shepherding in the small group meetings.
However, neither the feeding nor the shepherding is an easy matter. It is like learning to play the violin; there is the need for a long time of practice before one becomes skillful. Therefore, every day we have to learn the proper way to take care of the home meetings and the group meetings, and we have to study with all the brothers and sisters how to touch others’ spirits when contacting people and how to help others use their spirits to touch God. All these will be useful not only when we go out for the gospel spread, but they will be a tremendous help to us throughout our lifetime of service. I hope that we can all learn together.
PROPHESYING IN THE CHURCH MEETINGS
In addition to these matters, we have to practice prophesying in the district meetings. Some saints in some districts have the practice of laboring on the Lord’s word during the week to prepare a three-minute script for their prophesying on the Lord’s Day. This is not a bad practice. We have to know that we are not God. God works by creation; He calls things into being from nothing. With Him there is no need for improvement. But man learns. There is therefore the need for improvement and progress. For example, in order for us to graduate from the university, we have to pass through at least sixteen years of learning from elementary school through junior high school, high school, and then the university. For the same reason, in speaking the Lord’s word, there is the need for learning and practice.
As early as 1937, Brother Nee saw that the Lord’s Day morning meeting where one speaks and the rest listen is a practice according to the customs of the nations. He hoped very much to do away with this Lord’s Day morning message meeting. But at that time, he could not think of anything to replace it. He suggested that the brothers and sisters use the Lord’s Day morning for preaching the gospel. In the evening everybody could gather together for the Lord’s table. However, everyone was already accustomed to listening to messages. If they were asked to preach the gospel, they had neither the burden nor the interest to do it. For that reason, this practice was not carried out then. Ten years later in 1948, while Brother Nee was conducting a training on Kuling Mountain, he mentioned this matter again, as printed in the book Church Affairs. However, there was still no way to carry it out.
(Messages in Preparation for the Spread of the Gospel, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)