THE SPREAD OF THE CHURCH
Locally, it is the increase; universally, it is the spread. The church needs the increase locally, and the spread universally. If the church in Los Angeles has been existing locally for ten years without any increase, and there is still only one church in this country without any spreading, we are wrong. The church must be spreading from city to city. I expect that in the near future, there will even be an expression in Mexico City.
Some may say that this is contradictory to what I have said about being concentrated. No, it is for experience that we are concentrated to be trained. We come together for the strengthening of the testimony and that we might be trained and experienced. Then at a certain time, we will migrate out to spread the church life from city to city.
If we read the book of Acts carefully, we will see that the spreading of the gospel had two lines. The first line was the migration of the saints—not the going out of the apostles. Acts 8:1 says very plainly that all the saints were scattered abroad, except the apostles. We have always thought that the apostles had to go out and the saints had to stay. But the Lord scattered all the saints and kept the apostles in Jerusalem. The sent ones stayed, and all the others were sent out. This was the first spreading of the gospel. It was not by the apostles going but by the scattering of the believers. This is what we call migration. The spreading of God’s kingdom really does not only depend on the apostles, but also on the believers migrating from city to city.
According to Luke 21:24, Jerusalem has been returned to the people of Israel. This is the strongest fact indicating that the time of the Lord’s return is very near. Therefore, locally we must have the increase, and universally we must have the spreading. As a local expression we must have many saints going out. We are not here for our interest; we are here for the Lord’s recovery. The time is near; the Lord is coming back. We must take care of His interest. We must look to the Lord that some will be burdened to go, and all of us should be willing to be burdened to go. We are the descendants of Abraham. Abraham was a stranger who continually sojourned on the earth. It is not right for us to be so settled in one place. We have to move from one place to another. We must be here for the Lord’s interest. If we are here as a local expression of the Lord’s Body without an increase locally and a spreading universally, we are wrong. We should not think that we are more spiritual than others. If we do, we are too proud. We must be so living and burning all the time for a certain amount of increase locally and for a measure of spreading universally.
We are living today in the richest country on the earth. Everything is so available, and we are in the very center of the populated world. It is exceedingly easy and convenient for us to go north, south, east, or west. We must spread the Lord’s testimony to many cities in this country and Canada, as well as to Mexico, Central and South America, and Europe. We must look to the Lord that we will have such an increase locally and such a spreading universally.
(The Practical Expression of the Church, Chapter 21, by Witness Lee)