VI. THE BOUNDARY OF PLACE
Not only is there a boundary of time, there is a boundary of place also. A boundary implies a distinction. The elders can do certain things in one place, but not in another. They can speak certain words in one setting, but not when the setting is changed. This is not being diplomatic; neither is it being deceitful. This is absolutely a distinction pertaining to a boundary.
Strictly speaking, only in the elders’ meeting can the elders speak openly and freely, without reservation and without concealment, about things pertaining to the brothers and sisters, the church, and the testimony of the Lord. Other than this, all the elders have to consider all the boundaries and must draw a clear line across all the boundaries. The elders cannot share the things discussed in an elders’ meeting with the deacons. They cannot discuss these things with the other brothers and sisters, much less with their families. Only in this way can the elders feel free to discuss the matters concerning the brothers and sisters in the elders’ meeting. Otherwise, it would do injustice to the brothers and sisters. In the elders’ meetings, anything related to the church and to the Lord’s testimony can be discussed. But when the setting is changed and the place changed, the same things cannot be discussed. This is the consideration of place.
VII. THE BOUNDARY OF BUSINESS AFFAIRS
The elders must also recognize the boundary of business affairs. There are certain matters that the elders cannot touch. Once they touch them, they trespass the boundary. There are other matters which the elders must look into, because they are within the jurisdiction of the elders. I often receive letters from brothers and sisters out of town. When I read them, I felt that they surely have a good heart and are surely for the Lord, for His work, and even the more for His church. But the way the letters were written tells me that they really do not recognize any boundary. They mix all the relationships up together and do not have any clear-cut distinction. This would easily cause trouble in the church.
The church is something long-lasting. It does not exist today and disappear tomorrow. It does not appear for a while and then subside in an instant. The church will be here on earth all the time. If the Lord delays His return, perhaps she will still be here in fifty or eighty years’ time. If a person becomes an elder at the age of forty or fifty, he will at least be an elder for another ten to twenty years. If you cannot distinguish the boundary of business affairs, in time all kinds of confusion will result. Therefore, you must constantly learn to draw a clear boundary line in all business affairs.
Please remember that the clearer you draw the boundary line, the more solid the church’s unity and coordination will be. Only then will the building of the church be properly brought onto the right track. Because the elders have learned proper lessons in drawing the boundaries in time, place, and business, they will know whose business each matter is. Whenever certain things come to their attention, they can immediately say, "This is the brothers’ business. Let us not touch it for now." Some other matters may come to the elders, and they can draw a clear line immediately, saying, "This is the sisters’ business. Again, we should not touch it for now." Still, when other things come to the elders, they can quickly draw the line and say, "This has to do with the Lord’s work; it has to do with the ministry," or, "This has to do with the co-workers." Only when you clearly draw the line in business affairs can you know what things are within the boundary of the elders. Only then will you be able to divide and to discern all things according to the boundary of the truth. You will be able to tell whether a matter has contradicted the truth or whether it is within the boundary of the truth. In this way, you will know whether or not you should touch a matter. Otherwise, you will always be doing what you should not do. All these things have to do with your understanding.
(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)