XII. THE UNIQUE RELATIONSHIP, FELLOWSHIP,
AND BLENDING OF ALL THE LOCAL CHURCHES
The unique relationship, fellowship, and blending of all the local churches should be as much as practicality allows, without boundaries of states, provinces, or nations. If we are divided by any kind of boundary, the church becomes no longer a Body; rather, it becomes a corpse. A divided body is a corpse. We have been unaware of the fact that in the past five years the testimony of the recovery has been very much weakened. This is why we have lost our impact. In nearly every locality the number is too small with a low rate of increase. We all love the Lord, and we are in the recovery. We all keep the truth and teach the truth. Nevertheless, there is very little increase among us.
We need to reconsider our way (Hag. 1:5, 7). We are rich in truth, and we are pure in following the Lord, yet our increase is too low. Nearly everywhere it is the same. Based on this one fact of the low rate of increase among us, we should all humble ourselves before the Lord. The rate of increase measures where we are.
Are the churches in every area willing to be blended together as one? There may be fifteen churches in a particular region, but the question is whether or not they would be willing to be blended together. We may like to be independent under the cloak of being local. I am not teaching that all the local churches should be united in a federation, like the federation of the fifty states of the United States. I am showing you that the Bible reveals to us that all the saints and all the local churches are one Body. No one can deny this.
All the local churches on the globe today should be one. Today, unlike in Paul’s time, travel and communication to nearly anywhere on the earth are very convenient. Because of this, the churches today should be blended much more than they were in Paul’s time. Not only according to the revelation of the Bible but also according to the modern conveniences, we should be one, and we should be blended together as much as practicality allows.
XIII. THE CLUSTERING AND THE MOVING TOGETHER
OF NEIGHBORING CHURCHES
The clustering and the moving together of neighboring churches should be as much as possible, without the abolishing of the local administrations in business affairs. Our blending together should not be in name only; we must take some action. The local administration still exists, but in the spiritual element all the churches should be blended together as one.
In Southern California, we have forty-nine churches. Some are very small with not more than fifteen saints; others have twenty-five, thirty, or fifty. Of course, some are over one hundred, two hundred, even three hundred. These churches are very close to one another, that is, in the same "neighborhood" with one another. If they would be blended together, they could do many things. They could still meet in their own locality during the week, but on the Lord’s Day they should come together to a central place. Spontaneously that meeting would be strengthened. If a number of these small churches would come together, they could have one hundred fifty in the meeting, and this would bring in some impact. They could also have a gathering for the reaping of the new ones.
Because some like their independence, they might not agree with this. They may say, "We are the church in this city, and you are the church in that city." In a geographical area of not more than twenty miles, there may be ten saints meeting here, another fifteen meeting there, and twenty meeting at another place. There may be several small churches meeting like this. Why would you not be blended together? We have to be blended into one practically.
We still should keep the local administration in business affairs, but we have to learn to be blended with other churches. There may be only fifteen saints in a certain locality, and they can have a group meeting there. They even have the freedom to declare that they are the church in that locality, but they must also learn to be blended together with the neighboring churches. When we are blended together as one church, we will have the impact.
With the unbelievers and with those who do not meet with us, we need the impact. A new one may come to our meeting and be fully disappointed because our number is small or because our meeting place is a garage. After he comes one time, he may never come back. If we have a proper meeting facility set up which can accommodate three hundred people, fifteen small groups of saints in the surrounding neighborhoods could all come together for a meeting. Then when people ask where you meet, you can give them the street location and a description of the building. When they come to the meeting, they can see that you look like a church. This will give people the proper impression. We must have a revolutionized mentality, and we have to reconsider our way.
(One Body and One Spirit, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)