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

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I have a burden to stay in one place for at least nine months out of the year in order to directly help build up the local church there with some elders. In 1922 Brother Nee raised up a local church in his city. Sixty-six years have passed and we have not seen a model of a local church built up entirely according to what we have seen from the Lord. Brother Nee did not have the time to do this. Until now I have not had the time to do this either. After leaving mainland China, I was in Taiwan for about ten years. But I spent most of my time to train the saints, and I spent more than one-third of my time in other countries. We trained many new believers who were saved through our preaching of the gospel when we came to Taiwan. Many brothers who were saved through our preaching became elders. We trained them and built them up. Then many of them became useful ones to bear responsibility in the church or in the work. Some brothers who are now elders in Taiwan are the sons of these useful ones that were raised up. Because I was so busy training the saints, I did not have the opportunity to build up a local church according to what I teach and according to what I have seen of the Lord.

Many brothers came to me asking for certain ways to do things, but I did not give them a way. I told them to bring this matter to the Lord in prayer and seek the Lord’s leading. I did this because I learned a lot in my earlier ministry. In my earlier ministry, I could give people many instructions. Eventually, I discovered that very few of these instructions worked well. We can illustrate this by the teaching of driving a car. A driving teacher can impart the principles of driving to his students and even some details, but his teaching is not the application. When the driving teacher actually drives the car, his driving may be absolutely different from what he taught. He only taught some principles with some details. But quite often these principles do not fit in with the real situation of the road. When he taught driving, he did not realize there would be a big dip on a certain road. He did not anticipate that the roads would be flooded due to heavy rains. He never dreamed that two cars would crash right in front of his car. Some of the brothers may say, "I drive according to Brother Lee’s teaching. Brother Lee told me this." But Brother Lee never spoke about "two cars crashing in front of you." My point is this—if the steering wheel of the church were in my hand, I might drive it absolutely different from what I taught you. This driving would be according to the present situation and condition of the church in order to bring the church safely to its destination.

Thus far, according to my observation, many of the leading ones are still building up the local churches in a "probing way." They heard something and they received some teaching, but in their practice they are not so clear what to do or how to do it. This is why I have the burden to be involved in the direct building of a local church in a certain place if the Lord would give me time. I must be before the Lord as to whether or not I should do this and where I should do this. Please pray for me concerning this matter.

(Elders' Training, Book 09: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (1), Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)