Elders' Training, Book 11: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (3), by Witness Lee

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Recently, several leading brothers related to me how their oneness had been recovered and how they are now on fire. They asked me to assign a small number of full-timers to their area. In my fellowship with them, I told them that they should not expect the full-timers to do the work for them. The full-timers should not do anything to replace others or to replace others’ work. The work of the full-timers, if they are really capable, is to show others a pattern and to develop others so that the others can do more. The full-timers have been trained to work directly and not to do anything to replace others’ work. But I am concerned that the full-timers are doing a replacing work. The reason for my concern is that the brothers have often told me, "Brother Lee, thank the Lord for the full-timers who have come to help us." When they use this word help, I realize that the full-timers might actually be replacing others. The full-timers must condemn themselves if they do anything in a place to replace the saints. This is to repeat the clergy-laity system, which is condemned by the Lord.

The full-timers are neither clergy nor laymen. They are simply ordinary members of the Body of Christ. Those who are not full-timers should do the same thing as the full- timers. The only difference between the full-timers and the other saints is the amount of time that each one puts in. Saints who are not full-time have a job and may have a family, so they do not have a great deal of time to invest in the Lord’s work directly. The full-timers have dropped their jobs in order to put all of their time into the Lord’s recovery. In principle, the saints and the full-timers are the same. The difference between them is only in the amount of time each one gives to the Lord’s work. This does not mean that the full- timers put in the time to work for the Lord and that the others do not need to work. This is the system of clergy and laity in Christianity.


The way of Christianity is to use big speakers with a good meeting place to attract people. This is their facade. People can go there, attend a service, and relax after working all week. But in the churches, we do not have this kind of attraction. Our attraction is that everyone functions. When other Christians come to visit our meeting, they may be shocked to see so many functioning.

The elders must bear the responsibility to stir up each member in their church to function. In order to do this, the elders must have personal contact with the saints. This requires their time and energy, and this is a real sacrifice. In a previous message, I said that a good elder should contact twenty people a week. This may sound like a large number, but actually it is not. You can contact people by telephone at least three times a day. You can call one in the morning, another one at noon, and still another one at night. If you did this seven days a week, twenty-one people could be contacted.

In your contact, you should not just inquire about the saints’ welfare. Take the opportunity to fellowship with the saints about the Lord’s interest on earth, and take the time to have a little prayer with them. If you contacted twenty saints in this way, after one month you would see a fresh situation in your locality. To contact the saints makes a big difference. To be an elder today, the major thing is to contact people, but you must contact people in the new way.

(Elders' Training, Book 11: The Eldership and the God-Ordained Way (3), Chapter 11, by Witness Lee)