The Practical Expression of the Church, by Witness Lee


Ephesians 4:16 says, “Out from whom all the Body.” The supply comes out from Christ, into whom we have grown as our Head. We have grown into Him, and now something flows out from Him. The into in verse 15 goes along with the out from in verse 16. First, we must grow into Him; then out from Him will come something to build the Body. Out from Him the whole Body fitly joins together, the joints supply, and every part has a measure. This means that every member has a measure. That is why we must grow and grow and grow, and this is why we stress life again and again. We all must grow into the Head; then out from the Head we will receive something to minister to the Body for the building up of the local church.

We must forsake the concept that we are coming to the meeting simply to get help from the gifted persons. This is something from our background. If we are going to have a proper church life, we must give up the clergy-laity system, give up ourselves to let Christ take over, and give up the concept that we come to the meetings to receive help from those who are gifted. I should come to the meeting as a member of the Body who has grown into the Head so that out from Him I have something to minister to the Body. Then, while I am ministering to the Body, I will also receive the ministry from the other members. This is the function that builds up the church.


When I was in Pittsburgh in 1964, a brother said, “O Brother Lee, in this modern day we need experts in every business; so for the church service we also need experts. We need some brothers to be full time experts; the rest simply do not have the time to take care of the church service. We are busy with our education and occupations, and the sisters are busy with their families and homes. We do need some experts for the church service.” But I told this brother that this is the clergy of the denominations, not the priesthood of the local church.

Some may say, “It is too hard to be a member in the local church. You must give yourself to be captured by Christ and grow. You also must give up the concept of getting help from others but go to the meetings to minister something yourself. This is too much. I cannot go this way. I like to be an easy Christian. I work five days a week, and when Sunday comes I need to rest a while. I want to go to a church where I can sit to enjoy others’ ministry. That is the time for the experts to do their job and for me to enjoy their work. I do not like your kind of church. I must give up this and give up that; I have to do this, and I have to do that. It is simply too much.”

I sympathize with those who say this, but there is no other way. To them it is a hard job, but to us it is a real enjoyment. It is an enjoyment to give up ourselves; it is an enjoyment to be captured and gained by Christ; and it is an enjoyment to come to the meetings to minister something of Christ as life to others. Some may say that this is difficult, but we say that it is our best enjoyment. It all depends upon the concept we have, and it also depends upon the taste we have. If we have a taste for the organizational way of sitting and listening, we cannot have the proper church life. Our taste must be for the living function of all the members of the Body in the local church. When all of the members function, we will become a living organism, fighting the battle for the Lord’s recovery. Otherwise, we simply have a group of brothers and sisters as a kind of organization.

May the Lord be merciful to us so that we all may be so willing and aggressive to have the proper functions in the church.

(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 14, by Witness Lee)