THE PRACTICAL COORDINATION OF THE CHURCH
The fourth practical step for the practice of the new way is to lead the new ones, who have been baptized, who have home meetings established in their homes, and who have been led to know the truth and pursue the growth in life, into the full knowledge of the church and into the practical church life. This step very much requires the coordination of the local church. This means that although the saints raised up by the local church have helped in door-knocking and in caring for home meetings, the new ones that they gain cannot remain only in the home meetings but need to be brought into the church life. Therefore, the church must have a church life which is up to the standard in order to support these new ones for this further step. To illustrate, we may have a large reservoir with water flowing in constantly; however, if the reservoir has a breach or a hole, then the water will eventually all run out. After a rainstorm the reservoir may be full, but after just half a month the water will all run out through the breach or the hole. This is the root of the problem. Therefore, in order to bring new ones into the practical church life, the church must rise up to coordinate without any breaches or leaky holes so that we will not lose the water which is flowing in.
The Church Meetings
The first matter in which the church must coordinate is the church meetings. The church meetings must be living, fresh, moving, and rich. If the meetings are like this, not only the new ones but also anyone who comes will be supplied and touched. If the church meetings are neither hot nor cold, neither high nor low, and if everyone does not function, but instead just a few leading, responsible brothers bear the entire meeting, then the meeting will be dull and tasteless. This will have a great effect on the new ones.
In some Lord’s table meetings, the elders work very hard to pray again and again, sometimes praying at least five or six times, because not many other people pray. Thus, the meetings are not living, moving, fresh, or rich. The new ones which we have now gained through door-knocking are mostly very fresh and hungry. As soon as we bring them into the present condition of the church meetings, the meetings might dampen their interest and be unable to meet their needs. Some people may even receive a negative impression. Some new ones have been helped very much by the home meetings, but after they are brought to the larger church meetings, they do not want to come again because the big meetings cannot meet their need and taste.
The Elders’ Responsibility
For this reason, the elders must understand the seriousness of this matter and do their best to rise up and bear this important and great responsibility of bringing the saints into a living, fresh enjoyment for the success of the practice of the new way. We have already been quite successful in gaining new ones through door-knocking and in establishing home meetings. After this, we need to find a way to uphold the new ones, and the key to this is with the elders.
The world-famous American evangelist, Billy Graham, began to serve the Lord in Los Angeles in 1949. He also saw that in many of his large gospel meetings more than ten thousand people would leave their names. After sending them to all the denominations, however, most of them became very cold and were never heard from again. Today the situation in the Lord’s recovery is somewhat like this. Therefore, the churches must rise up to coordinate with the move of the Lord’s new way. If the churches are to rise up, the greatest responsibility falls upon the elders. They cannot just oversee others taking the new way while they themselves do not move. In the local church life the elders are the first “link,” the leading sheep who take the lead in the flock. If they do not go or move, the flock behind them will not be able to move or go on at all. The influence of the leading sheep is very great.
In 1958 I visited England, and the brothers there made a special trip to take me to a sheep ranch in Scotland to see how the flocks of sheep move. The flock is totally dependent on the leading of the head sheep. If the head sheep bleats, the entire flock bleats. If the head sheep lies down, the entire flock lies down. If the head sheep stops walking, the entire flock stops moving, and no matter how much you prod them, they will not move again until you get to the head sheep and force it to move. The Lord’s Word says very clearly that the church is God’s flock and the elders are the leading sheep who lead the entire flock (Acts 20:28-29; 1 Pet. 5:2-3). If the elders take the lead not to move, then how can the saints move?
We must keep looking to the Lord for His care, especially the elders. They need to fast and pray once a week, asking the Lord to care for the saints and to bring them into the vision and practice of the new way. This practice has already involved over a thousand people and has incurred great expense. However, the Lord has had mercy on us and has completely met our every need by His rich supply. Now the responsibility for this great move has been transferred to the elders of the church in Taipei. If this “first link”—the elders—does not move, then all our previous efforts will be nullified. Therefore, I hope that the elders will be touched to rise up and move so that the new way will reach the entire church through them.
Furthermore, the elders should not be elders in name only, nor should the eldership be an empty position. According to the Bible, the elders should shepherd the flock by becoming patterns to the flock. Therefore, if the elders do not take action, the saints have no way to grow up, and the church has no way to go on. Hence, all the saints, all those who love the Lord, who love the Lord’s recovery, and who love the Lord’s churches, should receive a burden to pray for the church in Taipei, particularly for the elders, calling on the Lord to raise them up and push them forward. If, as the crucial “first link,” they cannot get through or take action, then all our previous efforts in changing the system will be nullified, and we will not be able to get through in the matter of the new way.
(The Furtherance of the New Way for the Lord's Recovery, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)