Basic Principles for the Service in the Church Life, by Witness Lee


We do need the training in this matter, and we need the practice. What we have been talking about is mainly on the practical side. If you would take these matters and put them into practice, you will realize how much is involved here. Just this little word is enough for you to practice for your whole life. You will find that there is a nature within you that is always independent, a nature that is always secretive. You do not like to open yourself to others. Something in your blood always likes to be independent and to keep things secret, hidden from others. Some brothers and sisters are able to talk about many things without opening themselves to others. They talk, but they always keep themselves closed. You may serve the Lord with them for quite a period of time and still not know where they are.

If you would take this word to serve the Lord in a way of coordination, then you will find out where you are. By nature you are an independent person, a secretive person, even a person of mystery. You like to keep yourself hidden in yourself as a mystery. God caused the church to be hidden in Himself as a mystery in the Old Testament, but today you are keeping yourself as a mystery within yourself. It is not so easy for you to open yourself to others.

If there is no openness, this means that there is no brokenness. The more brokenness there is, the more openness there is, and the more openness, the more blending with others. Unless we learn the spiritual lesson of being broken, of being open, and of being blended with others, it will be impossible for us to have the church life. We can come together week after week, month after month, and year after year, but we can never have a church life. We can never be built up together to express Christ in a corporate way. We can never be blended as one in the spirit because our natural life, our soulish life, our human nature, has never been broken. There is only one way for you to experience the real brokenness of the natural life, and that is to be coordinated with others. You cannot merely close yourself in your room to read the Scriptures and pray and praise the Lord that you are broken. The more you declare in your room that you are broken, the more you are not broken. Whether or not you are really broken is tested by the coordination with others.

Suppose there is a sister who always likes to close herself in a room to seek after the Lord. She is very faithful to read the Word, to meditate, to kneel down to pray day by day. Her practice is very good, but the real test is whether or not this sister is really broken. It is possible for a person to be very spiritual alone with the Lord and yet never have the self broken.

Suppose that, under the Lord’s sovereignty, this sister is placed in some kind of coordination and put among seven sisters. Each of the seven is a Martha, and they simply do not know how to be quiet. In fact, all they know is work and more work, doing and more doing. Sovereignly these eight are put into a situation where there is so much that needs to be done that there is no time for this dear sister to seek the Lord alone in her room. This will become a real test to her. She may even lose her temper because she has no time for this. This is a proof that she has never been broken. After passing through such a testing, how could this sister close herself in her room in her old way and praise the Lord that she is broken? Actually, the sovereignty of the Lord brought her into such a situation to show her that she has to be broken in this very matter.

The teachings among today’s Christians place too much emphasis on individual spirituality, making Christians into antiques and showpieces instead of preparing them as materials for the building. God never intended that you should be individually spiritual. Individual spirituality spoils and does much damage to the building of the church. If you realize that God’s eternal purpose, God’s ultimate intention, is to have a Body, a corporate vessel to contain Christ and to express Christ, you will say, “Lord, save me; deliver me from my individual spirituality. I have to be broken even in this matter of individual spirituality. I need to be delivered from this kind of individuality. I need to learn the lesson to be broken so that I could be coordinated with others, so that I could be blended with others and become a real help to them.”

The proper way for such a spiritual sister to serve the Lord is to learn the lesson of brokenness, to learn how to be delivered by the Lord from her individual spirituality, to learn to go along with others. Then, gradually, the others will learn the same lesson, and this sister will be a help to them and minister the life of Christ to them in the proper way. All of these eight will then be built up together, and they will bring more and more people to be coordinated with them. Then they will be spiritual in a coordinated way, not in an individual way. Surely this is a much needed lesson.

We need to stress this matter so much simply because by experience we realize that if we would not learn this lesson, we can never have a real church life. Without this, our church life would be a false one. We can come together on the Lord’s Day and sing a hymn, have some prayer, and hear a message, but that is all. We can never have a church built up. We cannot have a group of believers built up together as a living corporate Body. We need to learn to serve in a way that we could be coordinated with others and others could be coordinated with us. There are many lessons here for us to learn.

Besides brokenness, you need to learn always to make it possible for others to coordinate with you. If you all would simply take this word and go on to serve the Lord in a way of coordination, there is no need for me to say anything more. There are many lessons ahead of you, but you should not give up. The more lessons you have, the more you need to learn, and the more you learn, the more the lessons will continue to come. This is the way the Lord builds up His church.

If three persons can do a particular job in the Lord’s service, you should not reduce the number to two. It would be better to have four or even five. Never reduce the number, but always increase it, because the more the number is increased, the more lessons there are for you to learn and the more the building will be realized.

Some brothers have said, “I simply cannot do anything if some sisters are here. If you would ask me to do something, you must tell these sisters not to come to me.” I am afraid that we may still have some brothers in such a situation. If you are such a brother, the Lord will send you more sisters; and probably, under His sovereignty, He will send you the most troublesome ones. The Lord will test you to show you where you are. You need to learn the lesson to do the work in the service in a corporate way. The church is a test to you, and the real service of the church is also a test.

We all should try to know the church. We need to practice to know the way of the church service, which is a service of coordination, never a service of an individual person. All the service in the church is a service of coordination.

Many times I like to fellowship with the brothers about my message before I deliver it. This is the best way. It is good to come together with the brothers to fellowship about the message you are going to give, taking the attitude of being open to others and being ready to be adjusted. If the brothers would give you just a little hint that they would not have you minister, you should be willing to take it. You should not act in an independent way. In everything, in every job, in every part of the Lord’s service, you need to try to open yourself to others to be coordinated with them, and to do everything in the service in a way of coordination. Then you will learn the lesson, and the church will be much profited in the matter of building up. Otherwise, we may have many meetings, but we could not have the real church life.

(Basic Principles for the Service in the Church Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)