VIII. THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE CHURCHES
There is also a boundary between the churches. True, all the local churches are in the Lord, and they should all fellowship with one another and do their best to help each other. But once a problem occurs, there is still the need to clearly draw the boundary. You must distinguish clearly whether a matter belongs to one local church or to another local church. Some elders are too good in their hearts. They feel that since they are not far from a church in their suburbs, they should help the other church, and they go ahead and make decisions for that church! This may be done out of a good heart, but often it damages matters. Do not consider this as unimportant. We must always learn to draw the boundary clearly. If this matter belongs to another church, even if it seems troublesome, we must still turn it over to them, informing their responsible ones of it and allowing them to take care of the matter. Although there should be fellowship between the churches and although they should help one another in the Lord, yet the boundary between the churches must be clear.
IX. THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN
THE CHURCH AND THE WORK
The boundary between the church and the work is a big subject. During the two thousand years of church history, there are two problems which have never been truly solved: one is the problem of receiving people, and the other is the relationship between the church and the work. How should we receive a person to be a brother? This problem still is not solved today. At the same time, the boundary between the church and the work is also a difficult problem; there are too many considerations involved, and it is difficult to distinguish them clearly.
However, if we return to the Scriptures without any personal subjective feeling or background of Christianity, and if we read the Word of God with a sober mind and an enlightened spirit, we will see that the boundary between the church and the work is very clear. On the one hand, the church encompasses everything; all the workers, including the apostle Paul, are in the church. When Paul went to Corinth, he was a brother in the church in Corinth. When he went to Ephesus, he was a brother in the church in Ephesus. When he went to Antioch, he was a brother in the church in Antioch. It was a different matter that he had a gift and could exercise and supply others. As a brother, he was a member of the church. Yet, on the other hand, as an apostle he was a worker, and he was responsible for a part of the Lord’s work. As such, his standing was altogether beyond the jurisdiction of the church. Otherwise, if the workers and the work were completely under the church, it would become possible for the church to have workers and to send out workers and direct them, or to initiate a work. This would altogether be beyond the teaching of the Scriptures. Therefore, we can see that as a brother, a worker is in the church, but as one who is commissioned by the Lord, he is apart from the jurisdiction of the church.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)