The Elders' Management of the Church, by Witness Lee


There is still another boundary we should know, the boundary of the truth. The matter of boundary is absolutely related to knowledge. The elders should have considerable knowledge regarding the truth. They must be able to draw a boundary on all truth. In this way, it will be very easy to find out the heresies and the wrong teachings.

The ones responsible for administration in the church do not necessarily need to use all the truth, but they need to know all the truth. It is like the pursuit of knowledge: some knowledge is for application, whereas other is to be used at some later date. The same is true with the understanding of the truth. What we use daily to supply the brothers and sisters and to apply in the church may only be a few very practical and spiritual items that are full of life; we may not need to use the other items in the same way. However, we still need to know about them, and we should keep them there for later use.

We know that nothing of what God has created is simple. Man is of course not simple, for he is composed of skin and flesh on the outside, and muscle and bone on the inside. In addition, there are the inward parts, the heart and the lungs, and many other parts. Even a watermelon is quite involved. When we eat a watermelon, we do not necessarily eat the whole thing. We do not eat the rind, we do not eat the seeds, and we do not eat the tissues in the meat. But the watermelon still needs these things. Without the seeds and the rind, the meat cannot grow. But what is useful is only the meat of the watermelon. The elders must know the truth in such a way. They must know the truth in all aspects. Although they will use only certain aspects of the truth, and will not use much of the other aspects, they should still keep them there. The latter will render a certain help and safeguard to our application. Therefore, all who administrate the church must know the truth in many aspects.

Classification is the prerequisite to the knowledge of any matter or to the truth. Regardless of what matter or truth we want to know, we must first classify it. You may not understand something at the beginning, but once you classify it, it will become clear. For instance, suppose a man gives a message today. How would you classify this message? Once you classify it, you will understand it. When you can really classify the truth, you will truly know whether or not a message is helpful to the brothers and sisters. You can also decide whether or not such a message can be accepted. Hence, this is absolutely related to the administration of the church.

If the elders cannot draw the line on the truth, the church will be put in jeopardy in receiving the supply of the ministry of the Word. Of course, with a small place like the one we have in Taiwan today, everyone is in fellowship with each other, and the situation is easier to handle. But in other places, it would be rather difficult. When everyone is separated one from another by great distances, and every place has to be responsible for itself, how should the church decide which ministry of the Word and which ministers of the Word it should take? This requires the elders to be able to draw the boundary concerning the truth. You cannot say, "Oh, since he is a preacher and what he says is based on the Scriptures, we can accept it." No. You must classify what he preaches and draw the boundary on it. You must ascertain the category his message comes under, and define its boundary. If you can draw the boundary and classify this way, you will be able to tell right away if the message is dangerous or helpful. This is a great safeguard to the church that you are administrating.

In some places, the condition of the church grieves me very much. The reason is that the responsible ones do not know how to draw the boundary in the truth and do not classify the truth. The church invites people to preach and teach in a loose way. The result is complete confusion, destruction, and division. These are big considerations in the administration of the elders.

(The Elders' Management of the Church, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)