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Old 09-15-2020, 08:10 AM   #1
Peter2020
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Default Where Should I Meet If Not At The Local Church?

I am a 28 year old male who attended Local Church for the past 7 years, I met them at the "Christians on Campus" while I was a student. I've been involved in various capacities, but then it gradually caused major divisions in my life, especially with my family and my girlfriend of 6 years who broke up with me, largely because of my involvement with the LC group.

I'm at a loss now, because I want to pursue the Lord and find a Church that is not as controlling as the LC but still allows members to be active in participation and "safe" from subtle brainwashing. I feel like Witness Lee had some very enlightening teachings, but the LC puts too much emphasis on him and discredits other teachers outside the LC ministry. I'm curious if there are Christian churches out there that draw from Witness Lee, but are not dependent on it for their sole ministry? Does anyone have any recommendations?
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Old 09-15-2020, 09:32 AM   #2
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Default Re: Where Should I Meet If Not At The Local Church?

Peter,

Thanks for coming to our forum and reaching out! One of the main reasons this forum exists is to put you in touch with some brothers and sisters who have been in your position.

I'm sure you will get a number of helpful responses. In the meantime, what I would tell you is that it will be very difficult to find such a group of people as you described. When I escaped from the Local Church of Witness Lee over 20 years ago, I desperately hoped and prayed that I could find such a church or group of saints that "draw from Witness Lee, but are not dependent on it for their sole ministry". Although I clearly saw the excesses and other problems in Lee's ministry, and in the LC movement as a whole, I was not ready to go "cold turkey" and just let everything go. I have heard from many brothers and sisters over the years who have had a very similar testimony.

I must be honest with you my brother. Sooner or later, you will find that it is not possible to cherry pick just the "good things" of Witness Lee/LSM/Local Church and leave the rest behind. Witness Lee taught his followers, in so many words, that one is "fully for him and the ministry" or "fully against him and the ministry". Of course this has always been couched in far more "spiritual" terms, such as being "absolute for the ministry" or "one with the ministry".

You are young. You have your whole life before you. God is faithful, and to be sure, he is "a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him". (Heb 11:6) Let me assure you that God has not left himself without a testimony among his people. They are all around you! Some meet in formal churches (even in...gasp...some denominational churches), some meet more informally in homes, and some are right there before your eyes - in line at the grocery store, or sitting on that park bench playing with their children, some are in your place of business, and yes, some are out here in in cyberspace - like on an Internet forum!

Peter, I will leave you with this for now. Please, please consider meeting with an evangelical Christian church (when this covid thing calms down) at least once a month. Pray that God will lead you to a place that preaches and teaches the genuine Gospel, and worship in spirit and in truth. Again, there are such places. Read some other non LSM/Lee material. My suggestion would be to start with authors like John Piper, Timothy Keller, D.A. Carson (quote of the day). Go and watch the YouTubes of these brothers and also those of people like the late Ravi Zaharias. Their words will seem somewhat strange and even hard for you at first....but God is speaking to the Body of Christ in their ministries, and in the ministries of so many other knowledgeable and godly men and women.

God is with you! He is for you. He WILL honor and bless your sincere heart and your seeking to worship him in spirit and in truth.

Your brother who unto Him, and is also for you, cheering you on!
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Old 09-15-2020, 09:37 AM   #3
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Default Re: Where Should I Meet If Not At The Local Church?

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I am a 28 year old male who attended Local Church for the past 7 years, I met them at the "Christians on Campus" while I was a student. I've been involved in various capacities, but then it gradually caused major divisions in my life, especially with my family and my girlfriend of 6 years who broke up with me, largely because of my involvement with the LC group.

I'm at a loss now, because I want to pursue the Lord and find a Church that is not as controlling as the LC but still allows members to be active in participation and "safe" from subtle brainwashing. I feel like Witness Lee had some very enlightening teachings, but the LC puts too much emphasis on him and discredits other teachers outside the LC ministry. I'm curious if there are Christian churches out there that draw from Witness Lee, but are not dependent on it for their sole ministry? Does anyone have any recommendations?
Welcome to the forum!

There are several former LC's which have split off, and I would consider them quite healthy. Besides them, the Lord has seekers every where.

But the bigger issue is your expectations. You were in the LC long enough to learn how to judge all other Christians, placing false standards on them. Inevitably any church you visit will cause those old criticisms to rise up in your heart. That happens to all of us. I am still a recovering "judgaholic" having left 15 years ago. WL and the Blendeds have trained us wrongly into thinking there is some ideal "recovered" church, and all others were "pitiful and degraded." Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing is perfect but Jesus our Lord. Actually their Laodicean pride has made them more degraded than most. This forum can be quite helpful to "purge out that old leaven" of errant LC teachings, and work thru many issues that may surface.

Assuming your GF was a Christian, where did she go to church? How about your family? Christian friends? It's usually easier to visit new churches when you know someone there.
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Old 09-15-2020, 11:25 AM   #4
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Default Re: Where Should I Meet If Not At The Local Church?

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Welcome to the forum!

There are several former LC's which have split off, and I would consider them quite healthy. Besides them, the Lord has seekers every where.

But the bigger issue is your expectations. You were in the LC long enough to learn how to judge all other Christians, placing false standards on them. Inevitably any church you visit will cause those old criticisms to rise up in your heart. That happens to all of us. I am still a recovering "judgaholic" having left 15 years ago. WL and the Blendeds have trained us wrongly into thinking there is some ideal "recovered" church, and all others were "pitiful and degraded." Nothing could be further from the truth. Nothing is perfect but Jesus our Lord. Actually their Laodicean pride has made them more degraded than most. This forum can be quite helpful to "purge out that old leaven" of errant LC teachings, and work thru many issues that may surface.

Assuming your GF was a Christian, where did she go to church? How about your family? Christian friends? It's usually easier to visit new churches when you know someone there.
I second that welcome, Peter2020! Brothers Ohio and UntoHim have both relayed some very good thoughts to you here.

For the past 20+ years, I have been meeting with a group that left the LC/LSM circle way back in the late 1980s. The open and participatory gathering style has remained, and is most rewarding to hear fresh things of Christ from each member. The legalism is gone too, and this is very refreshing - I have to "pinch" myself from time to time regarding this, as the freedom in Christ here is remarkable to me. We are also free to read or bring up any author that we think we have gained something of the Lord from. Very occasionally, this means someone might even bring up something from Witness Lee, or more frequently, Watchman Nee. But we all have the freedom to share as we are touched.

So, as Ohio said, there are groups out there who still have some of the basic practices - or as we like to say, have "not thrown the baby out with the dirty bathwater." I am aware of maybe a half dozen of these groups in the USA, with a few in the west and a few in the east - at least that I know of. People here (like Ohio) may be able to tell you of others near you.

Beyond that, I believe the Lord is faithful to honor the exhortation in Hebrews 10:25 to "not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.' That is, the life of Christ in us is a gathering life, and wants to be with other members of the body - this is both healthy and helpful. I have certainly been blessed with great fellowship with visiting other christian groups. It may surprise you how much of a touch with the living, indwelling Christ that some groups have! You might have to really seek and ask the Lord where they are, but according to my experience He is faithful to lead you where you need to be!

(now I also have had the judgmental experience in meeting with other groups . . . it's a natural function of the flesh to look for things not in-line with our "good" concepts. The Lord "learned" me that this judging was the fastest thing to cut off the blessing and fellowship with others. It can be an exercise, but eventually I was able to put this judgment off (like the "old man") and enjoy other believers, regardless of what they were practicing that was not according to some method. That is an experience of Christ to be treasured!)
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Old 09-18-2020, 08:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Where Should I Meet If Not At The Local Church?

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Originally Posted by Peter2020 View Post
I am a 28 year old male who attended Local Church for the past 7 years, I met them at the "Christians on Campus" while I was a student. I've been involved in various capacities, but then it gradually caused major divisions in my life, especially with my family and my girlfriend of 6 years who broke up with me, largely because of my involvement with the LC group.

I'm at a loss now, because I want to pursue the Lord and find a Church that is not as controlling as the LC but still allows members to be active in participation and "safe" from subtle brainwashing. I feel like Witness Lee had some very enlightening teachings, but the LC puts too much emphasis on him and discredits other teachers outside the LC ministry. I'm curious if there are Christian churches out there that draw from Witness Lee, but are not dependent on it for their sole ministry? Does anyone have any recommendations?
Welcome Peter2020!

Glad to see your post, and hope you can say more and engage a little.

I had a few thoughts when reading your post. These are coming from my perspective, or my filter, as someone who was in the LC for some time, born and raised into adulthood, and then realized how harmful and damaging it was for so long. So my responses come from that angle.....a careful, cautious angle, if you will.

I'm not sure if there is a church out there that we can plant a pole into the ground and raise a flag on that pole that says "SAFE"!!! It's possible for churches that are healthy to become unhealthy over time, so it's on each of us to be watchful, alert, and discerning no matter where we are. Satan is a crafty schemer, and wolves can arise from within the church. No place is truly safe for ever for all time. It's our responsibility to be an active member caring for the truth, and not a passive member. I'm not saying you're a passive member.....I'm just saying that from my experience going through the valley of the shadow of death in the LC that I now understand much better what all those exhortations, urgings, commands, and warnings in the Bible were about false apostles, false prophets, wolves in the eldership, systems of error, winds of teaching, etc. Our lives and our teachings need to be watched closely.

I hope that doesn't discourage you, because the flip side is that you really can relax a little. If you find a church that has sound, healthy teachings, and whose elders/pastors understand they are not God's deputy authorities but are called to serve and shepherd the flock, then you can surely lean in and enjoy and hopefully get some healing from your LC experience. All I'm saying is we just can't be blind and naive, and think "that can't happen here", that's all. I would say the way to be safe from brainwashing is to learn about brainwashing. It's hard to identify unless you have information about what it is. Steven Hassan's BITE model about behavior, information, thought, and emotion control is a good start. And as I've said to other posters, read books on spiritual abuse ("The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" by Johnson and Van Vonderen is a good one. I also found "Healing Spiritual Abuse" by Ken Blue to be particularly relevant to the LC experience). Those two topics will go a long way towards keeping you safe.

Regarding Witness Lee, unfortunately he is kind of a binary, all or nothing kinda guy. If you like Witness Lee and really espouse his teachings, by default you will espouse ONLY his teachings, because that's what's laced throughout his teachings and the churches associated with his teachings. If you see some of the real, concerning, disturbing problems with his teachings, then the majority of people realize the bad is not worth the good, and simply go find the good elsewhere without so much arsenic bad mixed in. So to find a church that reads Witness Lee, but relegates him to the back burner is almost an oxymoron, although I think a handful probably exist. Sons to Glory (a poster on this forum) seems to do a decent job of straining out the bad, but not everyone has that ability. The reason the LC puts too much emphasis on Lee and discredits other ministers is because Lee taught them to do that, so he's just not really someone you want to take in.

All I can say is there are tens of thousands of churches in the U.S., if that's where you are from (since you mentioned Christians on Campus). You may not get the kind of Sunday prophesying meeting participation you are used to, but many churches have their own version of home meetings where participation can happen in a more human way than occurs in the LC, (where participation is usually just going around in a circle, reading what Lee had to say, and then repeating what he had to say).

There are churches out there for you. It will just take some time and some hitting and missing. It's just a matter of visiting around (or, watching sermons online at the moment, I guess) and seeing/hearing for yourself what their focus is - knowing and loving God, or something else. Just put your search in God's hands as you look for a place. Start going to places nearby and visit around to a new place every week so you can get an idea of what's out there. Give it to Him. Tell Him you want to find a good, safe church. It may be a rough journey, but He'll walk with you on the journey.

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Old 09-18-2020, 08:33 PM   #6
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I second that welcome, Peter2020! Brothers Ohio and UntoHim have both relayed some very good thoughts to you here.

For the past 20+ years, I have been meeting with a group that left the LC/LSM circle way back in the late 1980s. The open and participatory gathering style has remained, and is most rewarding to hear fresh things of Christ from each member. The legalism is gone too, and this is very refreshing - I have to "pinch" myself from time to time regarding this, as the freedom in Christ here is remarkable to me. We are also free to read or bring up any author that we think we have gained something of the Lord from. Very occasionally, this means someone might even bring up something from Witness Lee, or more frequently, Watchman Nee. But we all have the freedom to share as we are touched.

So, as Ohio said, there are groups out there who still have some of the basic practices - or as we like to say, have "not thrown the baby out with the dirty bathwater." I am aware of maybe a half dozen of these groups in the USA, with a few in the west and a few in the east - at least that I know of. People here (like Ohio) may be able to tell you of others near you.

Beyond that, I believe the Lord is faithful to honor the exhortation in Hebrews 10:25 to "not forsake the assembling of yourselves together.' That is, the life of Christ in us is a gathering life, and wants to be with other members of the body - this is both healthy and helpful. I have certainly been blessed with great fellowship with visiting other christian groups. It may surprise you how much of a touch with the living, indwelling Christ that some groups have! You might have to really seek and ask the Lord where they are, but according to my experience He is faithful to lead you where you need to be!

(now I also have had the judgmental experience in meeting with other groups . . . it's a natural function of the flesh to look for things not in-line with our "good" concepts. The Lord "learned" me that this judging was the fastest thing to cut off the blessing and fellowship with others. It can be an exercise, but eventually I was able to put this judgment off (like the "old man") and enjoy other believers, regardless of what they were practicing that was not according to some method. That is an experience of Christ to be treasured!)
Is there a group Like that in New York area? I would like to join.
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Old 09-19-2020, 09:06 AM   #7
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Is there a group Like that in New York area? I would like to join.
Let me check with some brothers here and I will get back with you . . . or does anyone else know of something like this nearby? (and again, it doesn't necessarily have to be a group that was formerly associated with the LC . . .)

UPDATE: A brother texted me this just now when asked if anything in the NY area - "Only the (LC) church in New York, which I've been told is quite good. I heard more than once that they have a focus on the Lord's headship. But that was a few years ago. I believe they are (LC) affiliated, but give the Saints the liberty to find the Lord and experience the Lord without legalities." (Of course, this is secondhand information from this brother, and it is perhaps old or possibly inaccurate information.)

So you may have already been meeting with this LC group in NY, and that's why you are looking elsewhere . . . I couldn't tell from what you said earlier (in looking at the CNYC website, it looks pretty steeped in following WL! - so I know you will take that into account). Beyond that, there is a very good small group meeting in Raleigh, North Carolina. Ex-LCer Don Rutledge is there with around 20 saints. They, like here in Scottsdale, have no official affiliation with LSM/LC, but I know that's like 500 miles away.
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Old 09-22-2020, 02:06 PM   #8
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Thank you for your information. The church in nyc has changed Significantly since brother James passed away 3 years ago. Nowadays, the church’s life just like doing the work without enjoyment and love. In my opinion, they are more focusing on the knowledge of the Bible rather than personal relationship with God.
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Old 09-23-2020, 01:32 PM   #9
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Thank you for your information. The church in nyc has changed Significantly since brother James passed away 3 years ago. Nowadays, the church’s life just like doing the work without enjoyment and love. In my opinion, they are more focusing on the knowledge of the Bible rather than personal relationship with God.
You bet! The Lord be with you as you seek Him and fellowship with others!

What was James' last name?
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Old 09-24-2020, 07:28 AM   #10
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James Chu..............
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Old 09-25-2020, 11:30 AM   #11
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Hi all --

Sorry for the delay here, I really feel this blog is a “Recovery” from the Lord’s Recovery Movement and am thankful to receive so much support from you all. I do apologize in my delayed response, thanks for all for the insightful experiences, perspectives and wisdom.

UntoHim--

I agree, it’s difficult to go “cold turkey” and let everything go when you agree with parts of the ministry or enjoy certain hymns, or practices. Also, good to know it is not possible – or as others say very rare to “cherry pick” the good things of Witness Lee/LSM/Local Church and leave out the rest. I am young, and will continue to seek the Lord even if its not with the Witness Lee/LSM/Local Church, I am not convinced they have all the answers even though they try to convince other they do. I was raised in the Catholic Church and I am not convinced of that being the only Church either despite my family, ex girlfriend and many friends being strong, practicing Catholics. On a side note, I did not meet very many Catholics who met with the Local Churches though I was baptized again in the Local Churches.
I’m encouraged to hear that I can find Christian all around. I have developed a certain judgment towards belittling other Christians,but will learn how to take a step back to not only think about the Recovery Bible/Witness Lee/LSM/Local Church. Thank you brother!
I will look for an evangelical Christian church and try to meet at least once a month, maybe more and continue to pray that I am led towards a place that preaches and mentors the genuine Gospel, worshipping in spirit and truthfulness.
Also, really appreciate you sharing the authors of John Piper, Timothy Keller, D.A. Carson and Ravi Zaharias with me, I will definitely check them out, thank you.
Amen brother, I am thankful to have others cheering me on. God bless you!

Ohio--

I definitely shared the sentiment of feeling like Witness Lee/LSM/Local Church was the one and only, ideal “recovered” church and that others were pitiful and degraded because they are lacking in the divine, mystical, deep truths, therefore are missing the mark. I agree that has to do with their Laodicean pride, do you have a Bible you would recommend other than the Recovery version?

Yes, as I mentioned above my GF was Catholic as well as my family. My GF and I compromised and went to an evangelical, Presbyterian church because she did not want to meet with the Local Church. I have found the evangelical, Presbyterian church to be quite refreshing because of its focus on the word and its broader demographics. I do have friends who are Protestants and Catholics though I have only met Non-Denominational Christian in the Local Churches. What kind of church do you meet with?

Sons to Glory--

That is very refreshing to hear about how the legalism is gone in the church you have been going to for the past 20+ years. I do enjoy the participatory gathering style though I haven’t heard of many types of churches with that format, have you? That’s great you have the freedom in Christ at the church you attend and are not limited to a single author from Witness Lee/LSM/Local Church. I meet in the Mid-Atlantic area of the US.
Really appreciate you sharing your experience of Christ and how it was hard to put off judgment of other believers and churches, I know it will take time for me to undo the judging of other Christians which I was taught in the Local Churches.
Thank you for letting me know you can enjoy other believers, rather than according to some method. Great encouragement!

Trapped--
Thank you for your background from the perspective of a Local Church member raised into adulthood. I will be on the lookout within the church that I am led to, great advice to know that wolves can rise up within any church at any time. Those are very strong words about “going through the valley of the shadow of death in the LC” and fascinating that you noticed all of the warnings of “false apostles, false prophets, wolves in the eldership, systems of error, winds of teaching, etc.” within the Local Churches
Also, great to know that it’s possible to relax a little! I kind of wondered about that with keeping up to date with the latest messages from Anaheim on the recovery. The tone of many messages I’ve heard sounds like “God's deputy authorities.”
Appreciate you sharing with me the BITE model as well as “The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" and “Healing Spiritual Abuse," I will be sure to check those out. Being aware and not blind or naïve is definitely something I need to work on.

GREAT to know that Witness Lee is an all or nothing kinda guy. I always got that impression while reading him, but you saying that, growing up in the church, reinforces that idea. It sounds like Lee’s biggest sin was that he would discredit other ministers? Straining out the bad seems to exist but is very uncommon and takes a lot of work, but might exist in a few places around the country.

Haha I can very much relate to the participation of going around a circle and reading Lee what he had to say and repeating what he had to say was something I noticed. I often felt that what was coming out of my mouth was not really something I fully believed in, but what the Local Church group would approve of because it was related to the ministry.

You are right, now is a great time to be watching sermons online to see what’s out there as most churches have gone virtual in their format, that may be an effective way to seek out a God loving and knowing church. Also, thank you for giving me a heads up that it may be a rough journey as well, I did not think of that. Thank you brother!
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Old 09-25-2020, 01:03 PM   #12
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Ohio--

I definitely shared the sentiment of feeling like Witness Lee/LSM/Local Church was the one and only, ideal “recovered” church and that others were pitiful and degraded because they are lacking in the divine, mystical, deep truths, therefore are missing the mark. I agree that has to do with their Laodicean pride, do you have a Bible you would recommend other than the Recovery version?

Yes, as I mentioned above my GF was Catholic as well as my family. My GF and I compromised and went to an evangelical, Presbyterian church because she did not want to meet with the Local Church. I have found the evangelical, Presbyterian church to be quite refreshing because of its focus on the word and its broader demographics. I do have friends who are Protestants and Catholics though I have only met Non-Denominational Christian in the Local Churches. What kind of church do you meet with?
Good for you. Personally I believe "compromise" is one of the basic ingredients for all loving relationships. We have met with numerous churches. My wife and I are still working on our "compromise" church.

The RecVers is mostly derived from the ASV 1901 Version, which was a vast improvement over the KJV. So when you read other versions in that "family" of translations, they will seem familiar. For example the NASB or the WEB (World English Bible), which I like.

It's also good to read other methods of translation to provide a fresh perspective. One church we visit uses the New KJV. Many use the NIV, which is a little more "readable." I also have the NLT. The NT editor Phil Comfort was the minister when I was in the LC in Columbus. I got saved reading a paraphrase version, "The Greatest is Love."

I would suggest going with the version your new church uses. Get a Bible for your GF too. Using the Recovery Version in public raises eyebrows at times, since others think you are recovering from an addiction.

As you can see, the more versions the better! And I never threw away any of my Rec Versions. There is no perfect version or translation. Any version (except for the obvious heretical ones like Watchtower) that you or your family will read is the BEST version.
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Old 09-25-2020, 01:21 PM   #13
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Using the Recovery Version in public raises eyebrows at times, since others think you are recovering from an addiction.
Oh that's rich - never thought of that!
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