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Old 01-12-2017, 07:06 PM   #11
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 595
Default Re: The Ministry Becomes the Lampstand - W. Lee

Originally Posted by least View Post
Thank you Indiana for sorting out a confusing situation. "The Work and the Church mixed". That's what happened.
Originally Posted by Nell View Post
Around 1974 in Austin, Texas there was an announcement about something new coming called “Ministry Station” meetings. This was being shared in all the churches. Until that time, there were no publications other than an occasional booklet called “The Stream”. There was no Living Stream Ministry publishing house and no meeting hall on West Ball Road. WL’s messages were recorded and the audio tapes were distributed to the churches. The brothers then digested WL’s messages and shared them in all the church meetings.

Coming soon! “Ministry Meetings” which would be shared, not in the meeting hall, but in a nearby rented facility. In Austin the meetings were held in a community room of a nearby shopping mall, near the rented hall in north Austin. George Whitington (the “most leading brother”) shared all the messages which were called the “Life Study of Genesis”. Each message later came out in booklet form and sold for $.25 each.

We were told that “the ministry” belonged to Witness Lee. It was HIS ministry and he could handle it any way he wanted because it belonged to him. The “ministry meetings” were NOT church meetings and were therefore NOT to be shared in the church meeting hall/s. The ministry was “for the church”. The church was not “for the ministry.” This was shared several times and the leadership in Austin was adamant that these “ministry meetings” should not be considered church meetings...hence the offsite location. The “ministry” was a help to the church, but was NOT the church.
The church in Austin did what was warned against by both W. Nee and W. Lee. Nell's opening post provides a clear view of Austin's deviation, which gives us a window into the movement commenced in the Local Churches in 1974 to "range themselves around a certain leader".

"The ministry should be for the church; the church should never be for the ministry."

There is a reason for keeping the ministry separate that relates to the keeping of the oneness in the Body. The apostles neither elevated their ministries nor themselves.

“Consider the local churches in Asia to whom [John] wrote: most of them were exceedingly weak; yet those churches were the lampstands, not the ministry of the Apostle John. John’s ministry was far more spiritual than the condition of those churches; yet he did not set up his ministry as a lampstand.” (W.L., 1964)


The Ministry Coming to the Foreground

Don Rutledge, a former well-respected elder relates: “The turn away from the vision Witness Lee had regarding the practice of the local church life began in January 1974 at the very first special elders and co-workers conference. This is when the concept of the work began. Few of the saints realize the magnitude of effect this meeting had on the churches. With charts and statistics, Witness Lee and Max Rapoport came forth to launch the movement. It was boldly declared that the churches would use Witness Lee as the exclusive source of teaching and Max would serve as the coordinator to bring the various churches, with their elders, into a unified movement. Two life-study messages a week were going to be given in Anaheim. Ministry stations were set up in various cities to repeat his messages through designated brothers. Some smaller churches consolidated to the larger localities where there was a ministry station. The official list of twelve men who could give conferences was announced. From that time on, the individual churches would be called to account if they were moving “independently.” In addition to coordinating the elders to act in a single direction, Max was charged to assist the various churches to be more effective with gospel preaching and outreach.

“He began to travel and, in particular, to meet with the elders. Those who would not be good movement men were pushed aside, if possible, or moved somewhere to be out of the way. On several occasions, Max told me that he was working to bring the elders and churches into one coordination for the purpose of carrying out the burden of Witness Lee. He told me several times that only he could “put the whole thing together”.

"I am not attempting to call into question the motive of Witness Lee or Max. During this time, Witness Lee did some very good teaching and Max did some very good gospel work. But what did happen the nature of the various “local churches” changed from being local in administration and spontaneous in actions to being directed from a center with clear administrative leaders and directors.

“Things were definitely not the same. Some were saying the time of blessing has passed, or we changed our vision, or the moving of the Spirit left the churches, or teaching, doctrine, and methods replaced life.

“This time ended with a split between Witness Lee and Max Rapoport after a power struggle between them. Both had their followers, and Witness Lee won out. It was at this time, the time of becoming a movement that opened the door to Philip Lee and set the stage for the current Blending Brothers.

“After the split with Max, there was a pause in the development of the movement. Witness lee began again to start up the movement consolidation in 1981. He bought property in Irving, Texas and began making plans to strengthen the movement. Benson Phillips and Ray Graver of Texas began traveling to the churches to promote Witness Lee, his ministry, and the office.

“In 1984 the first round of lawsuits had been won. Witness Lee declared that the boulders were off the road and the Lord’s recovery could proceed.” D. R.

“Consider the local churches in Asia to whom [John] wrote: most of them were exceedingly weak; yet those churches were the lampstands, not the ministry of the Apostle John. John’s ministry was far more spiritual than the condition of those churches; yet he did not set up his ministry as a lampstand. “ (W.L., The Vision of God’s Building), 1964)

"The ministry should be for the church; the church should never be for the ministry"

The Ministry Becoming the Lampstand
(Witness Lee, The Vision of God’s Building, 1964)

“All gifts and all gifted persons are for the building up of the Body; they are not for any work in itself. The practice of today’s Christianity is absolutely different in principle. Wherever there is a gifted person, a spiritual “giant” with a certain gift, that person will begin a work. He will build up a certain Christian organization or ministry, and possibly call it some worthy name. We are not opposing anyone, but we are against the wrong principles which damage the Body life. The Apostle Paul did not form any Christian organization; he did not set up any kind of work. For possibly thirty years, he just established local churches. And, he did not keep any work in his own hands. In reading the New Testament we can only find the churches which were built up by him.

“At the time the Apostle John wrote the book of Revelation he was greatly experienced and matured. Of the twelve apostles he was the only one remaining. Yet he did not build up anything as his work, his ministry. Consider the local churches in Asia to whom he wrote: most of them were exceedingly weak; yet those churches were the lampstands, not the ministry of the Apostle John. John’s ministry was far more spiritual than the condition of those churches; yet he did not set up his ministry as a lampstand. In fact, he did not set up his ministry as anything. All he did was to further the building up of those local churches as the lampstands. Oh, we all must learn this! We must be aware of the dangerous tendency for any local church to become a work, kept in the hand of some gifted person. If such is the case, that is a real degradation. However much the Lord may use a gifted person, however great his ministry may be, the local church must not become his work. God’s intention is not to build up the ministry of any person, but to build up His church. This is not a small matter.

“In the New Testament there are the titles, the “church of God” (Acts 20:28), the “church of Christ” (Rom. 16:16), and the “church of the saints” (1 Cor. 14:33; 1Thess. 1:1). There is never any “church of the apostles. The church belongs to God, to Christ, to the saints, not to any apostle.

“The greater our gift is, the greater is the danger that we will take over the church and keep it in our hands. This will greatly damage the church life. We must learn not only how to minister in the local church, but also how to keep our hands off the church. This is not easy. The local church is not our personal enterprise. The local church is the property of the local saints, not some worker’s business. Some gifted persons put a local church in their pocket. Oh, this is a real problem!

“All the local saints must realize that the local church is their church. If the local saints are not clear concerning this, they will allow a gifted person to take the local churches into his own hands and treat it as his personal property. Then the entire church life will be finished. The local churches belong to the local saints. The gifted persons are just the means to perfect the saints to function; they are only the instruments used by the Lord to build up the churches.

“Consider the situation in Christianity today. Look at the situation even from the time of the Reformation: four or five hundred years have passed, and it is still basically the same. Whenever a gifted person is raised up, a certain kind of work is established. I establish my work, you establish your work, he establishes his work. Then the church is gone. This is the source of all the divisions. However, if one gifted brother comes to build a local church, and a second gifted brother comes to build up the same church, there will be no division. All the work must be for the church, not for the workers. The ministry should be for the church; the church should never be for the ministry. We must be exceedingly clear concerning this principle. We must drop all wrong practices. A gifted brother should keep his hands off the local church. Although a gifted brother may sometimes not speak openly in a way of ministry, yet he still may quietly maneuver behind the scenes. Any such maneuvering damages the church. All gifts and gifted persons must be entirely for the local church. This is a tremendously vital matter.”

For more detail, see

Steve Isitt 12-12-2012
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