TAKING THE SHEPHERDING WAY
TO PREACH THE GOSPEL AND REVIVE THE CHURCH
When I first went to Taiwan, I thought nothing could be worked out there. At that time it was a desolate small island. One day the Lord told me to go along the railway from Taipei to visit the saints. After that visitation I was deeply impressed that Taiwan could be a very good field for the Lord’s recovery. I picked up a burden and decided to begin the ministry there with a conference on August 1, 1949. About four or five hundred Christians from different denominations, who had escaped from mainland China to Taiwan, came on the first day of the conference. I said to them, "We are here to serve one kind of food—Christ. Please be clear about this. If you want anything else, you are wasting your time in coming here." Most of them did not come back. Only the real seekers came.
We took down their names and began to shepherd them. We distributed their names to different brothers and sisters to go and visit them. From the beginning of the work in Taiwan we practiced shepherding. When we had a big gospel meeting, we could get about five to six hundred names. Then we distributed all the names for the proper care. Most people want to have genuine, proper visitors. When we visit people, we should be genuine in our care for them. They will sense that we are not vain people. This shepherding way of preaching the gospel by visiting people warms them up. The church life in Taiwan began with about three or four hundred believers, but after four years we had forty thousand. Most of the people were not saved directly by my ministry; they were saved by the proper shepherding, the proper care. We all have to learn this.
Before I went to Taiwan in 1949, I was in Chefoo. I spoke each Lord’s Day, and during the week I and an older brother went to visit the new ones. We were warmly welcomed by every family. They would gather their household together when we came. Within a short time, there was a real revival in Chefoo. The gospel was preached everywhere, not just by myself but by all the saints.
I also made the decision to set up a kitchen in the meeting hall, and I invited groups of twenty or thirty saints to eat together for fellowship. Within a little over half a year, I had invited all the members of the church. At that time there were at least five to six hundred saints in the church in Chefoo. This kind of shepherding stirred up the entire church. I hope the elders would use the hall as a dining room and invite the saints to come for fellowship. An elder should contact at least one person every day for the purpose of shepherding. We should also invite people to our homes for a meal, not inviting the familiar ones but the new ones. The revival in Chefoo occurred because of this kind of shepherding.
Shepherding works. We should not desire to be giant speakers to make a name for ourselves. People may be attracted to come to listen to us, but who will take care of them afterward? The way of having large gospel campaigns does not work. In some places this has been tested out. We may have big gospel meetings with many people, but eventually not many of them are added to the church. Also, we should not use famous or well-known people to testify in our meetings. This will not save people to be added to the church. Even if someone is the president of the country, he should be in the meeting just as anyone else. The way that can save people effectively must be by small vital groups, and every one in this small vital group must be a shepherd. After a short time, the church will be revived. No other way is more prevailing than this shepherding way.
(Crystallization-Study of the Gospel of John, Chapter 13, by Witness Lee)