The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, by Witness Lee


In the church no one should exercise lordship. Matthew 20:25-28; 23:8-11; and 1 Peter 5:1-3, 5 reveal that the rulers of the nations exercise lordship over the people, but in the church there is no exercise of lordship. We have the lordship but it is the lordship of the Lord Himself. No one in the church, regardless of how much responsibility he bears, how much life he ministers to the saints, or how much he has been afforded the Lord’s grace for the building up of the local churches, should ever exercise any lordship over others. We all are brothers (Matt. 23:8). We only exercise “brethrenship”; we do not exercise any kind of lordship.

The dear ones who take the lead in all the local churches and all the other brothers and sisters should never consider that there should be anything as a kind of human lordship exercised in the local churches. We do not have any kind of classes in the church life. We only have one class, the brethren. There are no upper and lower classes. I say again, one may be used very much by the Lord and may be full of the Lord’s presence, the Lord’s life, the Lord’s power, and even the Lord’s authority, but he should not exercise any lordship over others. To exercise any type of lordship over anyone is absolutely wrong. The Lord Jesus said, “Whoever wants to become great among you shall be your servant” (Matt. 20:26). The greatest one in the local churches is one who is a servant to all the brothers. We do not exercise lordship, but we do have volunteer slavery. We are not enslaved by anyone, but we like to be a slave to everyone. This is wonderful, and this is the church life. We do not have any human master (Matt. 23:8). We only have one divine master, the Lord Jesus.

Neither should we call someone father. To do so absolutely contradicts the Lord’s teaching in Matthew 23:9. We have only one father, our Father in heaven. There are no ranks in the church life. There are no high ones or low ones. All are on the same level and of the same rank. We all are brothers.


We do not exercise lordship, but we do exercise obedience. We obey one another. In 1 Peter 5:5 the Bible says, “Younger men, be subject to elders.” The Bible also says, “Being subject to one another” (Eph. 5:21). Not only the younger ones are subject to the elderly ones; even the elderly ones have to learn subjection. All are subject to one another. This is the balance. One-way traffic always goes to an extreme. We need two-way traffic. As an example, sometimes in a family, the little ones balance the parents. The children might say, “Daddy, why do you sleep so late? Mommy, now is the time for you to go to bed. Mommy, Daddy, why do you talk so much? Mommy, why do you love yourself so much? Why don’t you love Daddy? Daddy, don’t you see my uncle needs something?” At times our children are used by the Lord to speak something to us. We parents all need the balance of our children. We should never think, “I am the daddy, so everyone in the family has to listen to me.” We all need balance.

In the church life the brothers should never force the sisters to be subject to them. Some brothers in certain so-called local churches have declared to the sisters that based on 1 Corinthians 11:3 they are the head of the women and all the sisters must be subject to them. Surely this kind of head needs to be balanced. The brothers need the balance from the sisters. We all need to learn something from others. Learn to be subject to others. Without this kind of balance there will be only one-way traffic, and this always leads to an extreme.

In the church I may be one of the local elders; yet I still need to be subject to all the brothers, even to the sisters, and listen to them. All the elders must listen to others’ concepts, others’ sensations, others’ feelings, and others’ words. Then they should bring all the fellowship to the Lord and seek the Lord’s leading. Maybe the decision will be made, not according to what the elders felt, but partly according to what the brothers and the sisters feel and partly according to the Lord’s revelation. Then the church is kept in balance and can go on in a proper way.


We also must practice that all the members of the church are functioning members in the Body (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 14:24-26, 31-32). It should not be that only a few are the functioning members and the rest are passive. All must be active members. A serious degradation among Christians is that most of them are passive. Therefore, we must exercise the real Body ministry. Today when people speak about the Body ministry, they consider that two, three, or four ministering is the Body ministry. But the Body ministry is when all the members are functioning. If three hundred meet together, all three hundred must function.

Our body has many parts. When we walk or jump, every part of our body functions; not one part is passive. Every saint must be encouraged to enter into this practice. If we are about to call a hymn, it is better to help a younger one or a weaker one call it. Also we must help all the members to stand up and say something. Perhaps one may only say, “O Lord Jesus”; however, this may be the beginning of his functioning.

On the other hand, some are too active. These need to give opportunity to others and become active in helping others to function.

(The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)