THE RELATIONSHIP AMONG THE CO-WORKERS
Now I want to add a little word concerning the relationship among the co-workers. In the Scriptures, in Acts and in the Epistles, you can see many people working for the Lord. But they were not organized together. There was no organization for the churches or for the co-workers, the apostles. Peter and some brothers worked in Jerusalem, in Judea, and Paul and others worked in the different places of the Gentile world. There was no organization of the co-workers, and there was no central control over them. They were all sent by the Lord and all worked for the local saints, for the local churches. None was organized with others and none would keep any work in his hands. So there was no problem. As long as we have organization, the problems will come.
Peter worked for the Lord, and Paul also worked for the Lord, but they were not organized together. Sometimes Paul went to Jerusalem to help the church there, and sometimes Peter came to other places where Paul worked to help the churches there. Peter and Paul, however, never formed an organization. Of course, we realize that Peter had a group of co-workers with him, and Paul had another group of co-workers with him. But their grouping was not an organization. They just went together to serve the Lord. There was neither financial control nor central control. Paul received the supply from the Lord for his own living, and his co-workers received the supply from the Lord for their own living. They just took care of one another in love. Since there was no organization among them, everything was so clear, free, and simple.
As long as we do not have any kind of organization, everything will remain simple and without trouble. Suppose I go to a certain locality to work. Eventually, I leave the results of my work in the hands of the local saints there. Then another brother goes there and works in the same way, and a third brother goes there and works in the same way. The church in that locality is not in the hands of any one of us.
Furthermore, we three even do not have any kind of organization. We are just working together for the Lord. By the Lord’s guidance at the present time, we have to stay here to work together and go on together, but this is not an organization. I do not give either of them a salary, nor do they give me a salary. If you feel led by the Lord to work with me, let us go on together. If I feel guided by the Lord to work with you, let us go along together. If we do not have any guidance from the Lord to work together, we just go on with the Lord. It is so simple.
All the saints also come together on their own within their own jurisdiction to go on with the Lord. Maybe they feel they have to invite me to help them. Then they just do it. When they invite me and I feel guided by the Lord, I just go to them. Maybe they feel to invite another brother. Then they just do it, and this brother can go if he feels led of the Lord. So we see there is nothing organized and nothing is kept in the hands of the co-workers. All the results of the work are in the hands of the local saints meeting together as the local expression of the Lord’s Body. This is according to the New Testament teaching and pattern.
Finally, I would speak a little word concerning the ministry meetings. The ministry meetings are meetings of the ministry to help the saints and the local churches. These meetings are for the local churches, but they are not local church meetings and are not in the hands of the local churches.
According to the pattern set up in the book of Acts, there are three ways for the servants of the Lord to work and minister to the saints. One is that, as a servant of the Lord, you can go to any locality to help the church there. You can attend the church meetings and take the opportunity to minister to the saints.
Another way is that you can be in a place where there is a local church, yet at the same time you can rent a place for your ministry. Paul did this when he was in Rome. In Acts 28 we are told that while Paul was in Rome, for two years he rented a house for himself to work and "welcomed all those who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ" (vv. 30-31). Paul did not form another group by his ministry. The fruit of his ministry was for the church in Rome. Remember that you should not form anything of your own to keep the results of your ministry. All the results of your ministry must go to the local church.
The third way is that if you stay in a locality for a long time, spontaneously you become a member of the local church there and serve the Lord as a local member. Peter was an example of this. He stayed in Jerusalem for a long time, so he automatically served the Lord in the church in Jerusalem as a local member.
I hope this simple word may make the situation and the way clear to us.
(The Life and Way for the Practice of the Church Life, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)