The Practical Building Up of the Local Churches
Additional Quotes about the Local Church
The following quotes express Witness Lees understanding of the God-ordained way to build the church:
A local church should do a work to preach the gospel in order to gain new ones, take care of the young ones, feed them and perfect them, and build them up that they may speak for the Lord. We may consider these four things as a part of the work of the church. A local church should work to carry out these four steps.
(Witness Lee, Instruction, 28)
The practice of the God-ordained way in its four steps should be our experience. The first step is to fulfill the New Testament priesthood of the gospel. To preach the gospel is to get sinners saved to be members of the Body of Christ. The second step is to nourish and feed the new believers in the home meetings. The third step is to perfect the saints through the group meetings .The home meetings may be small, with two or three persons taking care of a new one. But the group meetings should take care of a group of believers. The fourth and last step of the God-ordained way is prophesying in the church meetings for the building up of the church, consummating in the organic building up of the Body of Christ. We should endeavor to build up the local church. Eventually, this building up will consummate in the building up of the Body of Christ.
(Witness Lee, Church Life, 82)
The Lords ministry today is not to build up big congregations. It is to build up the saints in the new way which involves: 1) Learning how to knock on doors, how to touch people with the high gospel within a short time, how to baptize them not only in water but also into the Triune God, and how to set up meetings in their homes. 2) Learning how to feed them the truths concerning the Triune God, concerning life, concerning Christ, and concerning the church, which means we have to learn how to teach the truths in homes. 3) Learning how to help all the new ones to grow in life. 4) Learning how to bring them into the full knowledge and practice of the church, the Body of Christ. This will be done not only by me or by some of you; this will be done by everyone. Every door-knocker will learn this.
After two or three years the saints will have another taste. They will tell you that they do not like to have the big meetings. They like to have the home meetings where they could preach the gospel by themselves and where they could teach the truths by themselves. They will not need any kind of organization. What elders have been in mainland China for the past fifteen years? You may say that is a mess, but I am glad for that mess. I like to see this kind of mess. If there could be such a mess, after fifteen years another fifty million will be converted. This would be wonderful.
(Witness Lee, Being Desperate, 16-17)
In this chapter we want to see how to have a definite beginning of the God-ordained way in a local church. We need a definite start, a definite beginning, of the God-ordained way the way of one man speaking and the rest listening, makes people lazy and idle. One speaker is hired to do the work of many. They are only required to give their offerings and listen to some speaking. But to take the God-ordained way makes everyone busy. All of the believers must be exercised to visit people with the gospel. The success of this God-ordained way has been fully proven, but there is the need of our faithfulness in offering our body as a living sacrifice to the Lord.
(Witness Lee, Eldership (2), 135)
My ministering on the God-ordained way has been like a coachs instructing of his players. At the present time there is the need for some to develop my teaching into a practical, detailed way. One of the points that I stressed repeatedly is that every local church should have one-third of its members going out in a regularly scheduled way to visit people for the gospel. In Taipei one brother picked up a burden for this matter. Within half a year he stirred up the entire church in Taipei, which has over five thousand regular attendants each Lords Day morning. Through this stirring up, one-third of the saints began to practice the regular going out for the preaching of the gospel. That was a great help to Taipei. Now Taipei has seventeen hundred people going out regularly in a scheduled way to gain people. If they do not gain one within a year, surely they will gain one within two years. If we would go to visit people according to a regular schedule, we cannot care for our climate. Whether we are happy or full of anxiety, whether we are victorious or defeated, we still must go. I doubt that many of us have ever practiced this way. We are all easily directed by our climate. Just a little rain and we stop going. We may intend to go out to contact people, but then something may happen to stop us. We do not go, because the weather is not good. This causes us to change our schedule .
As we have mentioned previously, the first item in the practice of the God-ordained way is the universal priesthood of the gospel (Rom. 15:16; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9). In the Bible the priesthood is the priesthood of the gospel, and the priesthood is also universal. That the priesthood is universal means that every believer shares in the priesthood. We have no clergy, nor do we have any laymen. We have only priests. Every brother and every sister is a priest to serve God. However, because of age or physical weakness or some other circumstances, many saints are unable to go out regularly to contact sinners. So, generally speaking, at least thirty percent of the saints in a local church are able to go out for the gospel. For this the elders must work on the saints and stir them up. The elders should not merely announce that one-third of the church members should go out to preach the gospel. The elders themselves must go out. Then they should contact all the saints who have the capacity to go out. These still may not have the heart to go out, so the elders need to fan their hearts into flame. They can ask some to be their partners in preaching the gospel. There must be such a beginning among us for the gospel preaching.
(Witness Lee, Church Life, 132, 135)
God created man, Adam and Eve, and said to them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it (Gen. 1:28). Man has multiplied and replenished the earth in a gradual way by means of small families. Our God is a God of patience. To Him one thousand years is as one day (2 Pet. 3:8). From the creation of Adam until today is about six thousand years. Mans multiplying and replenishing the earth has taken six thousand years, but according to Gods counting, these six thousand years are only six days. During these six thousand years, man has multiplied gradually. It seems that the speed is slow, but actually it is not.
If you say that nothing has happened or that nothing has been accomplished in our practice of the new way within the past three and a half years, this is altogether not true. First, there has been a success in Taipei. When I went to Taipei in October 1984, the regular attendance at the Lords table was about three thousand. After practicing the God-ordained way in only a partial way, there are now five thousand saints attending the Lords table in Taipei. Statistics are subduing and convincing. In the past the elders in Taipei had the hard task of getting one speaker to speak in each of their twenty-one halls. The hardest thing for an elder in a local church to take care of was the Lords Day morning message. Before October 1984 there were only twenty-one speakers every Sunday morning among about three thousand attendants meeting in twenty-one halls. But now in Taipei they are practicing the biblical way revealed in 1 Corinthians 14, the way of all speaking in mutuality for the building up of the church, and there are about one thousand saints speaking in the Lords Day morning meeting among about five thousand attendants every Lords Day morning.
(Witness Lee, Messages to the Trainees, 93-94)
Our burden is to fellowship concerning the practice of the Lords advanced recovery today. Beginning in 1984 I began to have a new study that lasted about four and a half years. The subject of my study was the New Testament way of Christian service. We needed to see how to serve God, how to meet together, how to function, how to carry out the work, and how to preach the gospel. We needed to investigate how to carry out these things according to Gods New Testament economy.
Actually, throughout the history of the church, some of the seeking saints saw certain things concerning how to serve, how to meet, how to function, and how to preach the gospel to save sinners. They saw the truth concerning such things as baptism by immersion and the administration of the presbytery, the eldership, in the church. A big advance concerning the practice of the church life was with Zinzendorf and the Moravian Brethren in the eighteenth century. Then in the nineteenth century, the Lord raised up the British Brethren to recover more. In the twentieth century, the Lord brought us in mainland China into His recovery through Brother Watchman Nee. He took the lead to read about the history of the church and to read the main writings of the seeking ones throughout the centuries. We put many of the things we saw into practice. Later, we found out that some of the things in our practice were not so fitting. In 1931 the Brethren sent some saints to visit us in Shanghai, and their visit caused a lot of trouble. Brother Nee went abroad to visit them in 1933, and he saw the real situation among them. Through that visit, he saw the shortages in the practice of the Brethren. Then he saw the boundary of the local church and the local ground of the church to keep the unique oneness of the Body of Christ. The Brethren did not see this. Later he saw the revelation of the meeting of the church as unveiled in 1 Corinthians 14. According to this revelation, when the whole church comes together, each saint should have something to share, so each one has (v. 26). Brother Nee called this kind of meeting a meeting of mutuality. This meeting is not according to the traditional way of meeting with one person speaking and the rest listening. Such a traditional way of meeting has become the major meeting and the major structure of the practice of Christianity. If the meeting with one person speaking and the rest listening were taken away from Christianity, the entire structure of Christianity would collapse. Brother Nee saw that this meeting was not scriptural, and he said that it was according to the customs of the nations (2 Kings 17:8 NASB).
(Witness Lee, Eldership (1), 133-134)
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