The Meetings and Spiritual Exercise of the Local Church
Additional Quotes about the Local Church by Watchman Nee and Witness Lee
Witness Lee points out that the believers in the local churches serve one another:
First Corinthians 12:28b uses the term helps. This refers to the services of the deacons and deaconesses. These verses give us a clear view that the saints in the local church should take care of one another. If you need something, I should serve you. If I need something, you should serve me. The church life is not merely a matter of meeting. Serving one another should be a part of our communal life. In the early church life, the serving ones even took care of serving tables. Paul used the word helps in a very general way. This word covers everything. If a brother does not know where a barber shop is and you help him, this is the practical service and this is brotherly love. To help one another is the practice of the Body life in a communal way.
(Witness Lee, Lessons on Service, 96)
Watchman Nee discusses the way in which the whole Body should serve:
I hope the brothers and sisters will see that the ground of the church is based on locality and on the authority of the Holy Spirit. For the authority of the Holy Spirit to come in means that every person learns to reject his own ideas and submit to Gods authority. As everyone learns to serve, the church of God appears. As the church, it is not sufficient that our own personal opinions are denied. On the positive side, everyone must submit to the authority of the Holy Spirit. Once we submit to the authority of the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit immediately will direct and instruct everyone to serve.
I would ask the leading brothers, especially the leading ones in the home meetings, to excuse me for saying the following words: The minimum responsibility you have before God is to serve, but this is not enough. If you can only serve but cannot bring others into service, you have failed. The Holy Spirit is directing every person to serve. On the negative side, do not bring in your own ideas; on the positive side, let the Holy Spirit direct everyone to serve. The authority of the Holy Spirit means that the Holy Spirit can pass through everyone, the Holy Spirit can direct everyone.
Therefore, whoever can only serve by himself, but cannot commit things to others, is a failure. Whoever does not hold responsibility in his own hands, but distributes it to the brothers and sisters that they may share in the same work, is useful in Gods hand. We should not think that we must do everything when situations arise. Those who hurriedly finish things themselves, who hold things in their hands, and who will not assign them to others are hindering the work of the Holy Spirit. Responsibilities must be distributed; they should not be retained in our own hands. Retaining things in our own hands is a hindrance. Things should not get stuck to us. When the authority of the Holy Spirit is given full freedom in the church, it no longer is a matter of doing it or not, but it is a matter of letting the Holy Spirit have the freedom to release Himself. When the authority of the Holy Spirit works, moves, and is released in the whole Body, that is the church. The work must always be distributed. Distribution is a principle. Whenever a responsibility comes upon us, we should distribute it immediately. A thing may be done by one person, or it may be done by five persons. It is better, however, to distribute it among five persons. Always be involved and always involve others. If we practice this, we are training the brothers and providing them the proper guidance. In this way, everyone will learn to serve.
(Watchman Nee, Further Talks, 28-29)
The church needs to serve. Regarding this, Watchman Nee said:
In order for there to be a local church, the church must preach the gospel and the church must serve. Within the next few years, I hope to repeat these two phrases ten thousand times: The church needs to preach the gospel and the church needs to serve.
(Watchman Nee, Collected Works, Set 3, Vol. 51, 82)
Witness Lee comments on how opportunity should be given for the believers to learn to serve in the local churches:
The elders must labor continually and arrange everything with their own hands. Otherwise, with a large local church, not to say one with three or five thousand in attendance, even one with three to five hundred in attendance, it will not be easy to carry out the service. Not only will the service not be easy to carry out, but it will be impossible to produce new ones to come into the service. The reason for this is that there will be no opportunity for them to come in to learn to serve. Therefore, you have to manage to a point where all the services are continually turning, with the new ones turning toward the services all the time. The more people are saved, the more districts there will be; the more districts, the more business affairs there will be; the more business affairs, the more responsible ones and serving ones there will be. In this way, the whole thing will keep on turning.
(Witness Lee, Elders Management, 239-240)
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