Submitted by: Chao-Chun Liu (Arcadia)
Greetings from the church in Arcadia, CA! The churches in this region are very much endeavoring to enter into the practice of the vital grousp and I would like to share something new that I saw concerning the practice of the vital groups. Two points that particularly struck me are:
1) ”The New Way Gains New Men, and the New Men Walk the New Way” (新路得新人，新人走新路).
This is a slogan from the late 1980s when brother Lee was carrying out the God-ordained way in Taiwan. This, however, has been for years ”misunderstood” by me (and perhaps many saints also) in that I thought the phrase ”the New Man Walk the New Way” simply means that we need to be ”new” in order to walk the new way. While this understanding is certainly true, this is not the emphasis of the slogan. The emphasis is this: we need to go out and gain some new ones, and as soon as we gain them, we need to help them to know and walk the God-ordained way right away!
This means that, after the new ones get saved, instead of merely trying to feed and shepherd them and wait UNTIL they have become somewhat ”mature” enough to hear about the God-ordained way and go out for the gospel and do what we do, the God-ordained way means that we should educate and help the new ones to know and take the God-ordained way and enter into the practice of the vital groups and contact people for the gospel regularly RIGHT AFTER their salvation.
This is what we see in Acts. The 3000 baptized on the day of Pentecost and the 5000 later didn’t wait until they have grown ”mature” enough to witness for the Lord and enter into the God-ordained way. Instead, we see them carry out the God-ordained way right away spontaneously because there is simply no other way. Acts 2:46-47 is all done by new believers, because everyone was new; there were simply no old believers (except perhaps the disciples or the 120). It is the new believers who formed the vital groups and carried out the God-ordained way.
2) Three key points of the vital groups that were emphasized this time:
To shift our focus
a. From the Meetings to the Persons (from taking care of the ”meeting” to taking care of the ”persons”) (從會到人)
b. From Big to Small (from big meeting to 2-3 gathering together) (從大到小)
c. From Coming to Going (from inviting people to come to going out to visit them) (從來到去)
However, in order to talk this way, every one needs a companion and needs to take the exercises seriously (the churches here are using some exercise sheets for the saints to fill out every week). This is to go against our natural life (which doesn’t like to have companions nor fill out exercise sheet) and to live by the divine life, by another Person in us.
Three very encouraging testimonies from Alhambra (4/3-4/9/2011):
1. Forming the Habit of Contacting the New Ones in the Church Life
To practice the vital groups, we need to take the exercise sheet seriously. At the beginning I was not used to it and felt like an elementary school student doing homework under some kind of pressure. But after three weeks, more and more I discovered more that I have formed the habit of contacting the new ones, and increasinlgy so week after week. And this is not done for the elders to see nor to carry out a duty; every word that I filled in on the sheet was seen by the Lord. And this is not only to exercise my person, but more so my inner man. At the beginning of the practice, often I contacted the new ones for the sake of filling out the exercise sheet, or maybe it was by the urging of the Holy Spirit. But gradually I had the sense within that to fill out the exercise sheet is not the goal but simply a way to exercise. The goal of the exercise is God’s heart’s desire, which is to gain more members to build up His house—that is, the church.
2. Can’t Go to the Gym Persistently without a Companion
I remembered last February I often joined many sport activities with a good friend. Later on we together became members of the Bally Total Fitness club. At the beginning, I was very enthusiastic, and three to four times a week I would go for jogging, swimming, and sauna, and it was very fulfilling and meaningful. And I felt that to be a long-term club member is so inexpensive and worthwhile. Thus I signed up for a three-year membership. However, happy days do not last long. That good friend of mine, who had lived comfortably by doing some stocks and small business from home for five or six years, all of a sudden, was invited to become the dean of the Chinese department at a medical college. Moreover, he, having assumed this new post, in order to adjust to the new job environment, often needed to work overtime during the weekend. As a result, I was left alone to go to the gym and, persisting in this way after about a month, I stopped going there. Later I called my friend an d found out that he too has stopped going there. From this, we see that to go to the gym persistently, we must have companions. It is the same with practicing the vital groups, visiting the new ones, or contacting the new ones. We all must have vital companions to encourage and exhort one other mutually, having morning revival, prayer time, and Bible reading together. Only by this can we have a real vital church life steadfastly.
3. Only by Pursuing the Lord’s Words Continually Can We Have Real Peace and Joy
A sister in the church and I was pursuing the Lord’s words regularly every week for several months and never was there a break. One time I had something that I needed to call the sister to postpone our reading and to resume it only if I had the time. Later, after I was done with the matter, I still had time to pursue the Lord’s words, but I thought: since I have called to postpone the reading already, I might as well just stop it for this time. Then, that evening, out of no reason, I got into a terrible argument with my husband (not a brother), which was really unexplainable. Not only so, my husband, who has always loved our son very dearly, lost his temper that night…. Next day I told that sister what happened, and I dare not be lazy again from that day on, for I know clearly in my heart: only by pursuing the Lord’s words continually and living a normal church life can we have real peace and joy.