V. THE SEATING IN THE MEETINGS
The meetings in which we break bread to remember the Lord are not times for us to listen to messages. They are actually times for us to praise the Lord and serve Him. The singing of hymns and praying in these meetings should have such as their center. However, there are those who wonder what we are doing and come in to observe us; there are those who bring others in to observe; there are also those who come in by accident. The Bible tells us such situations do exist (cf. 1 Cor. 14:24). Nevertheless, the Bible does not tell us to invite others to come in to observe. Therefore, we can bring in whoever desires to break bread, but there is no need to bring in those who desire to observe.
In our midst there are two categories of brothers and sisters who do not break bread. One category are those who are born again, yet they do not break bread. They know they should break bread, yet they do not break bread with us. They only come to observe or listen to our sharing of God’s messages. The other category are those who are not sure of their salvation. If we ask these ones to sit with us, it would be inconvenient, for such mixed seating will cause great difficulties when we are passing the bread and the cup because we do not know whether the person next to us will eat the bread and drink the cup. If we all have to ask our neighbor whether or not he wants to break bread or whether or not he is saved, the meeting will be disturbed and become very noisy. Therefore, the best way is to separate the seating. Such separation of seating is different from the separation of seating in James 2:1-4 since the seats are not separated to differentiate between high and low ranks and rich and poor but only for the sake of facilitating the process of the meeting. Therefore, we specifically reserve the last rows of seats for the brothers and sisters who do not break bread with us. It does not mean that these two rows of seats are bad seats; in reality, all the seats are the same. The rest of the seats towards the center are for brothers and sisters who break bread. We, therefore, ask the brothers and sisters who want to break bread to sit as much toward the center as possible when they come in.
Concerning the brothers and sisters visiting from other localities, we ask our brothers and sister to inform them so that they will not misunderstand our differentiation of seats. Concerning the matter of receiving, we are not broad to the point that we receive anyone who comes in. We are only as broad as God is. Whomever God receives, we also receive.
VI. THE MATTER OF FINANCES IN THE CHURCH
Concerning financial matters, we have decided in yesterday’s prayer meeting to appoint Brother Chang and Brother Yu to manage the finances in the church. These two brothers also have the same feeling as ours. These two will take up the responsibility to manage the income and expenses of the church. As to how the funds should be distributed, any brother or sister can bring this matter up in the prayer meetings. There is another brother, Brother Tu, who is now in Shantung. We hope that he also can assist in the management of the offering on the Lord’s Days when he comes.
I want to mention that the funds of the work in Shanghai can be divided into three categories: (1) for the meeting’s use, (2) for the work, the books and magazines, and (3) for individual workers. These three categories are independent of each other. The funds from the offering box for the meetings are for the expenses of the meeting hall. If money is marked for the literary work, it will be used to print books, magazines, and tracts. If it is marked for the work, we will consider the needs. Sometimes we will use it on the literary work and sometimes on other individual workers. The work never uses the funds of the meetings. As for the personal expenses of the workers, the Lord touches people to send them funds; these must be marked for their personal use. The money that individual workers receive is the money that has been explicitly marked on a note for their personal use. The funds in these three categories are not mixed with one another. From now on we ask the brothers in the meetings to manage the funds designated for the meetings because the local meetings have been raised up. My co-workers and I will manage the funds designated for the work. There is, of course, no question as to the funds designated for our personal expenses.
Now I want to present our financial condition so that we all can be clear. In this building, the rooms on the floor below are used for the meetings and the rent is paid by the fund from the meetings. The top floor is for myself, and I am personally responsible for the rent. Room No. 250A is rented by Miss Lee, Miss Miao, and Miss Chang. Miss Wang is renting her own place. The Gospel Book Room rents only a small place to store the books. My personal need is supplied by God. The other co-workers also receive their supply from God. We do not need others to bear our burdens. At the present time, the local meetings only pay two or three hundred dollars for rent yearly. When there is an excess, we give the money to other workers or to the work of the Lord. Concerning the literary work, the expenses for the publishing of the gospel tracts, the magazines Notes on Scriptural Messages, The Present Testimony, etc., are borne by myself and a few sisters who co-labor with me; the supply for these expenses comes from God’s grace and His mercy, and through our prayers. This matter has no direct connection to you. It is something between us and the Lord. Therefore, we do not need to talk about it. Please pardon us.
Formerly we had some difficulty because the brothers were not clear about the truth of the church. (Please forgive me for saying this.) Therefore, we could only employ some temporary methods. We all met as believers, but there was no one to keep the accounting books. I myself do not know how to keep books. I cannot record clearly what is in and what is out. Therefore, I cannot manage the funds. If I had to keep the books, it would be very difficult for me. The sisters who work with us can no longer do it, and they should not be doing it. Several months ago, I was forced to do the bookkeeping temporarily.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), Chapter 22, by Watchman Nee)