THE WAY TO SPEAK FOR THE LORD OUTSIDE THE CHURCH MEETINGS
Speaking to the New Believers Who Have Not Yet Entered the Church Life
We must have a way for the church to be able to retain the new believers. According to our past experience in Taiwan, only about five out of one hundred people who were baptized remained. In other words, out of one hundred children who were born, ninety-five died prematurely and only five remained. This kind of result is frightening. We therefore picked up the burden to study how to nourish and bring to maturity the newly saved ones after they are baptized. We all know that after a child is born, he needs to be fed. Otherwise, he will die prematurely. At this time, both in the small groups and in the church life, we are all gaining people. However, the urgent need at present is to find a way to retain and feed the newly baptized ones so that they may be perfected and may grow in life.
Based on our past experiences and present observations, we realize that besides speaking for the Lord in the meetings to supply the saints, we also have to speak for the Lord outside of the meetings to retain and perfect the new believers. The way to speak for the Lord outside of the meetings is first to speak to the new believers who have not yet entered into the church life and to render them care. We must commit the newly saved brothers and sisters to the care of specific saints. For example, if we have fifty new ones baptized, we have to commit every one of them to the definite care of a certain brother or sister. For example, if twenty of these are new brothers and thirty are new sisters, then we must properly arrange for the brothers to take care of these twenty new brothers and also for some sisters to take care of the thirty new sisters. For each new one there should be at least one brother or sister who regularly meets and takes care of that one new one. Some who are more experienced may be able to take care of two new ones. Then you should charge them, saying, “This is your child, so you have to care for him properly.” In this way the responsibility will be clearly given to them.
Second, in our practice we must be flexible and not too rigid. In the past we were too rigid in our practice in Taipei. Everyone was going to meetings, especially those with some responsibility. They had meetings nearly every night of the week and morning watch every morning. Besides these meetings, there were various kinds of services. Consequently, these experienced and responsible ones did not have time to feed and take care of the new ones. All they could do was constantly exhort the new ones to attend the meetings. A newly baptized believer, however, cannot see the importance of the meetings. To illustrate, if you tell a newborn baby, “You have to eat,” he will not be able to comprehend. However, this was exactly what we did in the past—we were always asking people to do something. We asked them to come and listen to the gospel; after they listened, we asked them to believe and be baptized; and after they believed and were baptized, we asked them to come to the meetings. This was very difficult for those who were asked to do all these things.
The reason why we are changing the system is that we intend to change these situations. Of course, it would be best if the newly saved ones voluntarily and regularly came to the meetings after their baptism. According to our observation, however, most of the newly saved ones are not enthusiastic about attending the meetings. They may come this week and not come the next two weeks, or they may come for two weeks and then stop coming for the next three months. If we do not contact them within half a year, it is likely that they will never come again. Now we want to change the way we do things. In the past we would go to see the new believers in person or call them on the phone and repeatedly ask them to come to the meetings. As a result, they would get disgusted and refuse to take our calls because they felt that we were trying to force them to do something. Now we need to change this. We need to accommodate them by going to their homes to meet with them, once a week if possible. Whereas in the past we asked people to come to the meeting, now we need to go and meet with them. This can be likened to “guerilla” tactics, which are more flexible and effective.
For example, suppose we have fifty people who were baptized today. Thirty of them are sisters and twenty are brothers, so we commit the thirty new sisters to the care of thirty sisters, and the twenty new brothers to twenty brothers for shepherding. At this time, we should ask these thirty sisters and twenty brothers to use the methods of “guerrilla warfare” to lead and care for the fifty new ones. This means that in caring for the new believers they should not have a set formula. Rather, this may require the shepherding saints to go and fellowship with the new ones who are being shepherded in order to find out their real condition and, based on their real needs, to make appointments with them, finding opportunities to pray and read the Bible with them. After a while, such a habit will become their natural practice, and they will appreciate every meeting.
(Speaking for God, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)