II. THE BOUNDARY BETWEEN THE ELDERS
AND THE OTHER BROTHERS AND SISTERS
The boundary between the elders and the other brothers and sisters is also an important matter. It is true that we all are God’s children; the elders are God’s children together with all the other brothers and sisters. From this point of view, there certainly is no boundary. But from another point of view, the ones functioning as elders bear the heavy responsibility of the church. As such, there is a boundary between responsibility and no responsibility. This does not mean that there is a hierarchy and a high place, as if the elders are higher than the others. To have such a feeling is ugly. The boundary we are talking about here is absolutely a matter of responsibility.
For example, concerning certain matters, the elders should only talk to other elders about them; it is not convenient for them to talk these things over with the other brothers and sisters, because there is a question of responsibility involved. The same is true within a family. A family may have eight or nine brothers and sisters. The oldest brother and sister of course help in taking the responsibility. From the standpoint of the children, all of them are the same; there is no boundary. But from the standpoint of family responsibility, the oldest brother and sister share in the responsibility of the family. Matters of responsibility are known to them only. They can talk among themselves, but they should set up a boundary between them and their younger brothers and sisters. This is true even with a unit as small as the family. How much more true it is with a place as great as the house of God. Surely the elders cannot discuss freely with the other brothers and sisters everything that they know. If they do this, they have no boundary, and the result could be quite damaging.
Not only to the other brothers and sisters, but to the deacons, there is no need to confide many things. This is not to say that the church is divided into ranks. This is a question of responsibility and degree. There is a real need of consideration of boundary here.
Suppose a brother has difficulty with his wife at home. The matter can be brought up in the elders’ meeting, and the elders can discuss ways to help the situation. The elders can know about this, for they are the elders in the church, and they are responsible for caring for the brothers and sisters and shepherding them. But under different circumstances, and with other brothers and sisters present, the elders should not bring up the matter, for if others know about it, it will be unfair to the couple involved. Here is the need for the boundary. In order to administrate a church properly, there is the need to distinguish these boundaries.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)