Explanatory Fellowship to the Saints (a letter)
2019 Southern California Special Training on the Eldership
Beginning January 12, 2019, there will be a special training on the eldership for Southern California elders and responsible brothers. The burden of this training is to strengthen the present eldership and the responsible brothers in the churches, to perfect and raise up the next generation of elders and responsible brothers, and to gradually bring more younger brothers into a functioning role in an organic way. Whereas the International Training for Elders and Responsible Ones (ITERO) centers more on truth, vision, and life, this special training focuses on imparting a proper view of the eldership and on raising up the proper elders to oversee and shepherd the churches of God.
The training on the eldership will take place over at least three terms, each term being approximately six months in duration. Since it will consist of monthly corporate gatherings, weekly group fellowships, and weekly personal study, this training will involve a significant time commitment on the part of all participants. The first term will begin on January 12 and conclude on May 25. We ask all the saints to remember this training in their prayer. In particular, the saints are encouraged to pray:
- That the Lord will strengthen all the participants and become their perseverance and faithfulness to continually present themselves absolutely to this training;
- That an unprecedented one accord among the churches in Southern California will be ushered in as all the participants are attuned in the same mind and in the same opinion; and
- That the Lord will bless this training so that all participants will be perfected further for the sake of the Lord's testimony in Southern California and for the building up of the church, the Body of Christ.
As was revealed in the recent semiannual training, the Lord's need today is for an army of Nazarites to be raised up, trained, and equipped in order to fight for His testimony so that God can gain the ground on earth and have a people who are built up as His kingdom and His habitation. While God desires that all His people be Nazarites, the elders and responsible brothers must take the lead and be patterns to all the saints in living for nothing other than God and for His satisfaction.
The following portion from the ministry explains the importance of the elders:
The Importance of the Elders
If we read the whole Bible carefully, we can see that God's plan and His purpose are fulfilled in the church. Without the church, God's plan cannot be fulfilled, and God's desire cannot be realized. Hence, we can say that God's plan and His desire hinge upon the church. The Bible also shows that the focus of the church is the elders. If a local church has no elders, strictly speaking, it is as if there were no church. This can be compared to a country in the world that cannot be considered a nation because there are citizens, but there is no government. In the same principle, it does not matter how many brothers and sisters there are in a locality; if no elders are raised up, they cannot be considered a church. As a nation must have a legitimate government in addition to having citizens, so a church must have elders appointed in addition to having a group of saved saints.
I hope that the brothers and sisters would have a strong feeling concerning this matter. Not only does the Bible say this, but history also testifies to this, and our experience can also attest to it. Wherever there are strong elders, there are strong churches. Wherever there are spiritual elders, there are spiritual churches. Whether a church is strong or weak, spiritual or fleshly, absolutely depends on the elders. Wherever you go, the condition of the elders in that place determines the condition of the church. This is something very real.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, ch. 2)