X. THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN
THE CHURCH AND THE DENOMINATIONS
The distinction between the church and the denominations is also a big subject. I will just say a frank word: in Christianity, there are a few things which can give us a headache. One such thing is the saying that all churches are more or less the same. In some places, even the elders in the church say such a thing. Whenever I hear this, I would say to these ones bluntly, "If they are more or less the same, why do you come here to be an elder?" They may say, "This is the Lord’s leading, and it is the arrangement of the brothers. I cannot decline. But to me everything is more or less the same." Oh, brothers, an elder can never say "more or less the same"! If the answer is yes, say yes. If the answer is no, say no. Never say "more or less the same." If they are more or less the same, we should not be starting another group in addition to so many groups. The elders among us who bear responsibility in the various local churches must say that the difference is too great. What is a church, and what is a denomination? Here is a great boundary.
Some find it very hard to take such a word. When they hear it, they feel uncomfortable. But I want to say humbly to the brothers and sisters that all those who find it hard to hear such a word are those who suffer loss. If you cannot distinguish the church from the denominations, you yourself will be the first one to suffer. The suffering of the church will be secondary.
We can never acknowledge that any denomination is the church. We can only acknowledge that within those denominations there are our brothers and sisters, and people who are part of the church. They are elements of the church. They are members of the Body of Christ. But we cannot acknowledge that any denomination is the church. Otherwise, you will find it extremely difficult to take the lead in the church. I hope all the responsible brothers in all the local churches are clear about this matter. I also hope that no one who is confused about this matter will be appointed as an elder, because this will cause difficulty in the administration in the future. We can say that very many problems originate from this matter. In order to administrate the church, we must have a distinction here. Today, we can all distinguish the difference between the Catholic church and the Protestant churches, but we should not stop at this distinction only. We should distinguish also the difference between the various denominations and the churches that the Lord has established in each locality on earth. Either we do not talk about the administration of the church, or we must have a very clear boundary in this matter.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)