The Normal Christian Church Life, by Watchman Nee


Some have asked, “Since you believe all God’s servants should trust Him for their daily needs, and since you have quite a company of fellow workers, why do you not become an organized faith mission?”

For two reasons: first, in God’s Word all association of workers is on a spiritual basis, not on an official one. As soon as you have an official organization, then you change the spiritual relationship which exists among the fellow workers into an official relationship. Second, dependence upon God alone for the meeting of all material needs does not demand as active a faith on the part of an official organization as it does on the part of individuals who are only related in a spiritual fellowship. It is much easier to trust God as a mission than to trust Him as an individual. In Scripture we see individual faith, but we see no such thing as organization-faith. In an organization there is bound to be some income, and every member is sure to receive a share, whether he exercises faith or not. This opens the way for people to join the mission who have no active faith in God. And in the case of those who have faith when they join, there is the likelihood of personal trust in the Lord gradually growing weak through lack of exercise, since supplies come with a certain measure of regularity whether the individual members of the mission exercise faith or not. It is very easy to lose faith in God and simply trust an organization. Those who know the frailty of the flesh realize how prone we are to depend on anything and anyone but God. It is much easier to put our expectation in remittances from the mission than in ravens from heaven. Beloved, is not this the truth? If I have said anything amiss, may God and men both forgive me.

Because of our proneness to look at the bucket and forget the fountain, God has frequently to change His means of supply to keep our eyes fixed on the source. So the heavens that once sent us welcome showers become as brass, the streams that refreshed us are allowed to dry up, and the ravens that brought our daily food visit us no longer; but then God surprises us by meeting our needs through a poor widow, and so we prove the marvelous resources of God. Organization-faith does not stimulate personal trust in God, and that is what He is out to develop.

I know that in an organized body many difficulties vanish automatically. Humanly speaking, it insures a much greater income, for many of God’s children prefer to give to organizations rather than to individuals. Besides, organized work comes much more to the notice of the children of God than unorganized. But questions such as these challenge us continually: Do you really believe in God? Must scriptural principles be sacrificed to convenience? Do you really want God’s best with all its accompanying difficulties? We do, and so we have no alternative but to work on the ground of the Body of Christ in spiritual association with all others who stand on that same ground.

But we wish to point out that, though we ourselves are not a mission, we are not opposed to missions. Our testimony is positive, not negative. We believe that in God’s Word the different groups of sent-out ones who were associated in the work all stood on the ground of the Body, and that no such group was organized into a mission. Still, if our brethren feel led of God to form such an organization, we have nothing to say against it. We only say, God bless them! For us to form a mission because others of God’s children do so would be wrong, since we see no scriptural ground for it, and have no leading of the Spirit in that direction. But whether we work in a fellowship whose relationships are only spiritual, or in an organization whose relationships are official, may God make us absolutely one in this, that we do not seek the increase or extension of the companies in which we work, but make it our one aim to work exclusively for the founding and building up of the local churches.

(The Normal Christian Church Life, Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)