PRACTICING THE GENERALITY TOWARD OTHER LOCAL CHURCHES
This is not only a principle for individuals; it is also the principle for all the local churches. We must not only be general toward individuals, but also toward other churches. We should not be so definite. We should not be so set. Every local church must learn to follow all the other local churches. For example, the church in Los Angeles followed the church in San Francisco in the matter of pray-singing. Neither was pray-reading started in Los Angeles. The church in Los Angeles, as also a follower of the other churches, learned the pray-reading from the church in Taipei and the pray-singing from the church in San Francisco.
We do not know what will happen tomorrow in the church in Seattle or the next week in the church in Moses Lake. There may be something new in Moses Lake that will be so helpful to all the local churches. If so, all the churches should take it. We all have to learn to be general. We should not say that a certain way is the best way to practice the church life, or that a certain way is the best way to have a local church. At the present time I and so many others feel that to exercise the spirit and to take care of the inner life by pray-reading and feeding on the Lord Jesus is the most profitable way for us to have the proper church life. But we are open to the Lord. We do not know how far the Lord will go on. We all have to admit that there is still a big field for us to explore. It may be that after two years something new will be discovered. We should not be so definite, so set. We should be open, and we should be general.
THE BETTER THINGS FOR BUILDING UP A LOCAL CHURCH
In the last two chapters I pointed out that teachings are not so good for the building up of a local church. I also stated that neither are the gifts so good for the building up of a local church. There is something better—the exercise of the spirit, the growth in life, the pray-reading, and the feeding on the Lord. These are the better things for the building up of a local church. I do not mean that teachings are absolutely of no use; neither do I mean that gifts are absolutely of no use. We have seen that a good number of people were raised up by the gifts, and a good number of saints were edified by the teachings. To say that the teachings and the gifts are absolutely of no use is wrong. However, to build the local church with life, with the growth in life, and with oneness is the better way. Nothing can surpass the way of life, the way of enjoying Christ for growth, and the way of oneness.
We should never try to adjust or correct other churches. If the church you visit were under your direction, you might do things differently. But when it is not under your direction, you should not do anything. It is the same as driving or riding a car. When you ride with someone, you should never say a word. That is his car under his driving. But if the car were turned to you, you may drive it another way. We should never be a back seat driver.
The problem, however, is that when we visit another local church, we may tell the saints there that the practice in the local church where we are is the right way. We may try to make the church in another city like the church in our place. We should not do this. We should never say the way in our church is the normal way. It is absolutely not right to correct others like this. Your way might be the worst. But even if it is the best, there is no need for you to try to convince others to take it. To try to convince others of your way will only cause division. If you think your way is the best and it indeed is the best, others will see it and will learn of it. If others do not care to learn of it, that is up to them.
Never be bothered by something different from your concept. If you hold the concept that the meetings have to be quiet, yet you get into a meeting that is noisy, do not be bothered. You have to learn to be general and go along with it. If your concept is to have a noisy meeting, a meeting that is full of praisings, and you come to a meeting that is quiet, do not be bothered. Be quiet with them. Be general.
By all means we have to keep the oneness. Do not make anything definite. Do not make anything specific. Do not have anything set. We should be open, we should be general, and we should be learning all the time.
(The Speciality, Generality, and Practicality of the Church Life, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)