V. FELLOWSHIP WITH ALL THE CHURCHES
Although the churches in all the localities are administered locally, and although the authority of oversight and administration is vested in the hands of the local elders, in their normal condition the elders should do their best to fellowship with all the other places. Taipei should fellowship with New York, Tokyo, Manila, Singapore, London, France, and Tainan. If the elders can do this, they will find that the benefits fellowship brings are very great. Your view will be expanded, and your isolation will be balanced. If you are better than others already, your fellowship will make you even better. You will receive a boost from the other places, and your time will not be wasted. Do not say that you have no time, and that as an elder in Taipei, already you do not have enough time to take care of the problems in Taipei, let alone take care of the fellowship with other places. Please remember, however, that if you do not have this fellowship, you will surely suffer. Hence, no matter how busy you are, you have to fellowship.
Sometimes it is good even to have some ordinary fellowship. For example, you can write to another church to tell them about the blessings you have, or about your weaknesses, with the hope that they can render some help. This is also good fellowship. Sometimes when problems arise, they cannot be solved locally. At such times, you can write to the brothers in other localities and tell them that there is such a problem and ask for their feeling. You can ask if they have encountered similar problems in the past. Sometimes you can fellowship a little in the matter of burden for prayer; you can tell the others the items that need prayer. Sometimes you can share a little concerning the light you have received. These are all excellent things to do, and they can render tremendous help to all the places.
The last time I went to the Philippines, the heaviest burden I felt was that the churches in Southeast Asia have suffered greatly because of the lack of fellowship with the churches in China for a long time. Thank the Lord that during these years, there is some recovery, but it is still far from enough. Some unnecessary news spreads very fast, yet the necessary fellowship is very lacking. Some have a wrong concept about The News of the Churches; they think that to write something there is to make a display of themselves. I think that those who think this way should condemn themselves first. Whether or not you are making a display of yourself is absolutely a matter of your intention. But whether or not you are making a display of yourself, one thing is certain: you need others’ fellowship, and others need to fellowship with you. You cannot do without this.
Brothers, the apostle Paul did expose himself considerably. Particularly in 2 Corinthians, he opened up himself completely without any reservation. If he had closed himself up, how much would the churches throughout the ages have suffered! For this reason we have to do our best to open up ourselves. If you want to condemn yourselves for making a display of yourself, you can do that. But you have to see that at the same time you need your brothers’ supply, and your brothers need your supply. If the brothers from Shilin had closed themselves up, where would the church in Shilin be today? If Peitou had cut itself off completely from outside influence, would there be a church in Peitou today? We have to admit that we are living a life of fellowshipping with others. We are living under the shade of the umbrella of others; we are carried along by others’ current. We cannot be proud, and we cannot be foolish.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 10, by Witness Lee)