Local Church Discussions  

Go Back   Local Church Discussions > Writings of Former Members > Polemic Writings of Nigel Tomes

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-06-2017, 10:12 AM   #1
UntoHim
Grateful Servant
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,296
Default The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

************PDF Version is Attached at End of Document************

The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy?
Evidence from Google Trends 2004-2016

“Blessing in the 1st generation, Organization in the 2nd,...Degradation in the 3rd”—W. Nee

Watchman Nee had remarkable acumen. One example was his identification of a repeating cycle of restoration/ degradation in Christian history. Watchman Nee observed a pattern that:

“A person receives much grace and blessing from the Lord...After his generation passes away, the second generation remains somewhat good. But...men...say, ‘...We should form an organization to carry on and maintain this grace.’ By the second or third generation, organization comes in...They believe that God is the Giver of grace, but they do not believe that God is also the Preserver of grace...As a result, human... ways and means are introduced in an effort to maintain the blessing...This cycle repeats itself: blessing in the first generation, organization in the 2nd generation, and degradation in the 3rd generation.”—W. Nee1

Watchman Nee saw this pattern in Protestant Christianity and identified its fatal flaw. We ought to ask --Has the Local Church movement (aka the “Lord’s Recovery”) avoided this pitfall? The “Lord’s Present Recovery” began in the 1920s with W. Nee; the past 90-years encompass three generations. One could postulate that Watchman Nee represents the first generation, Witness Lee the second, and LSM’s “Blended Brothers,” the third generation. We ask—Has the Local Church movement replicated this tragic cycle from God’s blessing to human organization and its resulting degradation? Or has the “Lord’s Recovery” escaped this vicious cycle?

“I’m the continuation of Bro. Nee; I’d like to have a continuation of me...this needs a corporation”—W. Lee
One does not have to look very far to find indications of such a cycle in the “Lord’s Recovery.” LSM’s “blended brothers” are on record, reporting that, prior to Witness Lee’s departure, “In a meeting with the brothers [responsible] for Living Stream Ministry, Brother Lee said,
‘My burden is for the recovery based on the interpretation of Brother Nee and me. I am the continuation of Brother Nee; I would like to have a continuation of me, and this needs a corporation...The Living Stream corporation will continue this ministry’ (notes of a meeting of Living Stream, July 12, 1996).”2
Notice that this statement refers to three stages or generations; W. Lee said, “I am the continuation of Brother Nee; I would like to have a continuation of me...” Watchman Nee was the first, ‘founding’ generation of the “Lord’s Present Recovery.” Witness Lee asserts that he is “the continuation of Brother Nee,” i.e., the second generation. The ‘third generation,’ is not an individual or even a group of people (as one might expect); rather, W. Lee asserts “a continuation of me...needs a corporation...The Living Stream corporation will continue this ministry.” Hence, ‘the ministry’ is transmitted from W. Nee to W. Lee, then to LSM; from two ministers of God’s Word to an organization, the LSM Corporation. We note that the formation of “an organization to carry on and maintain this grace” is exactly the degradation which Watchman Nee warned against. Indeed, this crass statement by Witness Lee ought to be a source of embarrassment; we suspect it was only made public in order to legitimate LSM’s blended brothers’ claim to be Witness Lee’s successors.3

Evolution—from Organic to Organizational
Ironically, after ministering for decades on “the organic Body” and insisting that Living Stream Ministry was simply a Levitical service with limited functions, Witness Lee ultimately gave primacy to a human organization---the LSM Corporation. Almost a decade earlier, in July 1988, Witness Lee resolutely declared that:

“The Living Stream Ministry office is only a business office to serve my ministry for two things: to publish the messages in book form and to distribute these messages in both video and audio tapes. That is all the ministry office should do and nothing else...The ministry office has always had this specific function and no other function. This little office is a Levitical service serving my ministry to put out the word of God in print and through video and audio tapes...We do not have any organization. No one can control the local churches. No one can control anything because we do not have organization among us. I do not control, and the Living Stream office would not control.”—Witness Lee4

Evidently a dramatic evolution occurred between the time these words were spoken and Witness Lee’s passing. In 1988 he adamantly asserted that “we do not have organization among us.” Yet, ironically, the very next year Witness Lee founded a key component “institution...the Living Stream Bible Truth & Church Service Training, commonly known as the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA),” to quote Prof. Paul Chang.5 Acting Assistant Professor Chang (UC Riverside) documents its “remarkable success,” saying
“In 1989... Witness Lee (Li Changshou) founded [the FTTA] that is now [in 2015] one of the largest post-graduate theological institutions in the US. The school [FTTA] currently enrolls well over 300 full-time equivalents. Bucking national trends, it shows healthy signs of growth...Furthermore these...are only one national manifestation of a larger phenomenon. Internationally, there are about a dozen such schools [FTTs] representing every inhabited continent, all of which trace their founding to the same Chinese-American minister...[the] major Asian-American theological figure”--Witness Lee.6

The covert trend of institutionalization meant that, by 1997, LSM was no longer (if it ever was) a “little office... a Levitical service serving my ministry...in print and...video and audio tapes.” As Witness Lee contemplated “finishing his course,” he asserted that “the Living Stream Corporation will continue this ministry” as the “continuation of me.” With these words Witness Lee finally acknowledged the “die that had been cast” a decade earlier. Against this backdrop Watchman Nee’s words seem prophetic, “men...say, ‘...We should form an organization to carry on and maintain this grace’.” In this case, the organization is the Living Stream Ministry [LSM] Corporation, including the FTTA and other LSM affiliates. W. Nee also identifies the underlying human failure—“They believe that God is the Giver of grace, but they do not believe that God is also the Preserver of grace. They believe in God's blessing, but they cannot believe in God's continual blessing. As a result, human ...ways & means are introduced.”7 In Watchman Nee’s view, relying on an organization (e.g. LSM) represents a departure from God’s way. It repeats the “sin of Uzzah,” using man’s methods to further God’s move.8

LSM’s Globalization of Chinese Christianity
Two decades have elapsed since W. Lee’s passing; what has been produced? Prof. Paul Chang chronicles LSM’s success story, “Since his death, Lee’s followers have continued to propagate & practice his theology. They have now established local congregations in every state in the U.S...Lee and his teachings have raised up indigenous leaders and congregations in many different countries, making him rather unique in Chinese Christianity...And finally, the institution...the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA), is [a]...remarkable success.”9

Another sympathetic assessment is entitled “The Globalization of Chinese Christianity: A Study of Watchman Nee & Witness Lee's Ministry.” The author, Dr. Yi Liu of Shanghai University, China, states that globalization of ‘the ministry’ was W. Lee’s goal; “As an heir of Watchman Nee...[W. Lee] pushed the global expansion of the ministry to every main continent,”10 Professor Yi Liu writes. Specifically, “It is in the US that Witness Lee solidified his vision and purpose in building a global ministry.”11 Dr. Liu says the human institutions—the LSM Corporation—and its Asian affiliate, the Taiwan Gospel Book Room--facilitated the process of “a Chinese church becoming globalized.”12 “Under the direction of Taiwan Gospel Book Room [TGBR] and Living Stream Ministry,” says Dr. Yi Liu, “this originally Chinese ministry has developed a global network of Local Churches across the five continents. It is a rare example of an Asian Christianity assuming global significance.” This rare success story, the “globalization of Chinese Christianity,” in the form of “W. Nee and W. Lee's Ministry” Dr. Liu attributes not to God’s move through the Local Churches, but to the human organizations—LSM and its Taiwan affiliate. We ask: Is this a triumph or a tragedy? Wouldn’t Watchman Nee view LSM’s ‘triumph’ as a tragedy?

Substantiating LSM’s ‘Success Story’
What evidence substantiates LSM’s successful globalization? Dr. Liu appeals to meagre statistics. He says,13 “There are no exact statistics, but it is estimated that there are about 80,000 to 100,000 followers in mainland China.” Elsewhere, “In total, there are about 3,500 churches and 500,000 believers.” Although, “The statistics may not be reliable,” Dr. Liu, asserts, “one thing is sure: Local Churches are found in every continent. The fact itself is amazing: a church from the non-Western world has become globalized.” Dr. Yi Liu’s ‘bottom-line,’ in terms of the evidence of LSM’s globalization, is that the Local Church has representation in all five continents.

Is it really “Global”?
Dr. Liu’s thesis is that Witness Lee’s ministry is “global” having spread to all 5 continents. However, we ask: is LSM’s Local Church really global? Take Africa for example. Dr. Liu reports that “there are 1,500 [LSM Local Church believers] in Ghana, 800 in Nigeria, and 200 in South Africa.”14 Is that all? No other African countries are listed. Plus the number for Ghana (1,500) is highly suspect.15 The grand total for the whole continent of Africa is 2,500 Local Church members! Global data indicate there are 487M Christians in Africa.16 So, in Africa, LSM’s Local Church members represent one-in-every-200,000 Christian believers. Africa has ¼ of the world’s Christians & the highest Christian growth rate among continents. Can we really claim that LSM’s Local Church, with a microscopic share, a token presence in a handful of African countries, has a “global representation”?

Is it really “Local”?
Dr. Liu also contends (without offering any evidence) that “following the principles of the ‘Local Church,’ the converts in every locality are mainly people of local origin rather than Chinese immigrants.”17 I am not aware of any comprehensive data; however, anecdotal evidence suggests that in many countries outside Asia, Local Church membership is not representative of the local population. In many North American cities, LSM’s “Local Churches” are not “local” in the sense of being composed “mainly [of] people of local origin.” People of Asian-ethnicity & immigrant-origin are typically disproportionately over-represented. Caucasians (euphemistically called “typical Americans”)18 and Blacks (e.g. US Afro-Americans) are typically disproportionately under-represented in LSM’s Local Churches. Plus these imbalances are more evident in the larger Local Church congregations in major cities.19 Anecdotal evidence suggests this situation also exists in many LSM “Local Churches” in Western Continental Europe (e.g. Paris). So we ask, when the local population is severely under-represented, are they really “local churches”? Aren’t they merely western branches of an Asian church?

Evidence from Google Trends 2004-2016
The statistics offered by Dr. Yi Liu are inadequate to substantiate the global triumph of W. Lee’s ministry. A comprehensive analysis of these issues requires extensive data which is not immediately available to us. In the interim we offer some preliminary indications using Internet search data, specifically Google Trends.20

Google Trends allows users to track the relative number of internet searches for key terms, phrases or topics conducted using the Google search engine over the period 2004 to the present. Interactive graphs and maps are generated depicting monthly figures relative to the highest month (scaled to 100). Hence the number of searches is presented relative to the peak month over the period. Multiple terms can be graphed, relative to the peak month of the most popular search item. Data can also be filtered by the origin of the search inquiry in terms of worldwide, specific countries, etc, plus state, metro-area and city origin, if sufficient data is available.

Previously we used Google Trends to document the declining Internet interest in the ministries of Watchman Nee & Witness Lee.21 We update that study by adding 24-months of new data for 2015-16. Plus, given Dr. Yi Liu’s emphasis on the role of LSM and its affiliates, we also examine Google searches for “Living Stream Ministry (non-profit corporation).” Google Trends’ analytical tools have also been updated making them more useful. Specifically we analyse “Watchman Nee” & “Witness Lee” as search topics and not merely search terms. Google “search terms” show matches for all terms in the query, only in the language given. A search “topic” is a group of terms sharing the same concept, in any language. So the topic ‘Watchman Nee,’ includes searches by his Chinese name, Ni Tuosheng (倪柝声) and related items, for e.g., his books ‘Spiritual Man,” “Sit, Walk, Stand,” and “Spiritual Authority” (in Spanish, Portuguese, Korean, etc) plus W. Lee’s biography of W. Nee.

Lastly we note that Google is the dominant search engine. Globally 74% (Feb. 2016) to 82% (Dec. 2016) of Internet searches used Google. Bing is a distant second (6% to 12%). There are, however, notable exceptions; Google’s share of Internet searches is tiny in mainland China [Search engine market shares: Baidu: 55%; Qihoo 360: 28%; Sogou: 13%] South Korea [Naver: 77%; Daum: 20%] and (of course) N. Korea. Plus Google is a minor player in Russia [Yandex: 58%; Google: 34%] Hence our “global” results approximate the world minus mainland China22 and South Korea—an important caveat. (Google data from these countries is still included in the worldwide results, since they represent ‘valid’ Google searches.)

The Role of Living Stream Ministry (LSM)
Living Stream Ministry is a non-profit US corporation with various affiliates (e.g., Taiwan Gospel Book Room [TGBR]). It publishes Watchman Nee’s & Witness Lee’s books in many languages; its ‘lead product,’ the Recovery Version Study Bible, contains W. Lee’s extensive footnotes. LSM also conducts conferences & trainings promulgating W. Lee’s teachings. These include semi-annual 6-day trainings plus the “Full-time trainings” (FTT) for one or two years.23 It also acts as a central HQ from which LSM’s “blended brothers” direct the global network of Local Churches. Dr. Yi Liu‘s recent article states that.24 “under the direction of Taiwan Gospel Book Room and Living Stream Ministry based in Anaheim, CA, this originally Chinese ministry [i.e., “W. Nee & W. Lee’s Ministry”] has developed a global network of Local Churches across the 5 continents.” Thus LSM & its Taiwan affiliate [TGBR] are credited with directing the globalization of ‘the ministry.’ We ask: Does Google’s Internet data provide evidence of such “globalization” and indicate LSM’s role in that globalization?

We postulate that ‘W. Lee’ and ‘W. Nee’ are more likely search topics for people making initial contact with LSM’s Local Church. Since Watchman Nee is widely recognized and respected among evangelical Christians, his name is often used by Local Churches as an opening gambit when introducing “the Lord’s Recovery”25 to other Christians. Witness Lee is then introduced as a “faithful co-worker” of W. Nee. Curious newcomers may follow-up their initial contact with the Local Church movement via a Google search for the names ‘W. Nee’ &/or ‘W. Lee.’ Yet W. Nee’s ministry has a widespread & abiding appeal, independent of W. Lee and LSM, hence only a fraction of ‘W. Nee’ searches reflect interest in W. Lee & LSM’s Local Church. On the other hand W. Lee wrapped himself in W. Nee’s mantle, presenting himself as his successor, so there is a link. We suggest searches for ‘W. Lee’ are more closely related to inquiries into LSM’s Local Church than ‘W. Nee’ searches.
We posit that “Living Stream Ministry” is a more likely search item for existing members, already affiliated with the Local Churches. As the elders & members of the Local Churches seek to align themselves with LSM in order to be “one with the ministry” and “closely follow the ministry,” this generates Google searches for “Living Stream Ministry.” Local Church members inquiring about publications (e.g. HWMR), conferences & trainings (including the FTTA, FTTJ, etc) are more likely to search for ‘LSM.’ Plus workers, church-elders, trainees and translation teams laboring on behalf of ‘the ministry’ in various countries may communicate extensively with the LSM HQ and its affiliates as they carry out LSM’s mission. We argue that Google searches for ‘LSM’ reflect LSM’s Corporation role as “the continuation of Witness Lee.” Meanwhile, searches for “Watchman Nee” and “Witness Lee” (especially the latter) more often reflect initial contact with LSM’s Local Church. Plus ‘W. Lee’ searches are likely more closely connected with LSM’s Local Church movement, than searches for ‘W. Nee.’

Global Results
Figure 1 (below) gives global results for Google search topics “Living Stream Ministry (non-profit corp.),” (in blue) “Watchman Nee” (red) & “Witness Lee” (yellow) for the 13-year period, Jan. 1, 2004 to Dec. 31, 2016

‘LSM,’ ‘W. Nee’ and ‘W. Lee’ are all Declining
The most striking observation from the Figure is that all three measures--LSM, Watchman Nee and Witness Lee—display a similar pattern—peaking early in the era and declining thereafter (with fluctuations around that downward trend). We ask, looking at the “big picture” presented here, is this suggestive of a ‘success story’? Certainly if these graphs represented (say) the total sales of a business, plus its major products, there would be serious cause for concern. Indications of declining interest in the ‘lead products’ of the LSM-corporation—“Watchman Nee & Witness Lee”—do not portend a bright future. Graphics like these generally depict “mature markets” for older products with heyday long-passed and characterized by declining market share. In this case, they suggest the days of growth are numbered for LSM’s ministry; LSM’s global success story is about to sour.


Declining Interest in the LSM Corporation

The world-wide Google data indicate that search interest in LSM peaked in Jan. 2005 and declined thereafter. Over the 13-year period interest averaged 56% of the peak; for the past 7 years (since Sept. 2009) interest has been below that average and declining. For the past year, Internet interest in ‘LSM’ has been consistently below 40% of the peak. At the end of the period (Nov./Dec. 2016) interest in LSM was only 35% of the peak.

https://www.google.ca/trends/explore...,%2Fm%2F01lmcg

Interest in “Watchman Nee” continues to Decline
Interest in the topic “Watchman Nee,” (red) as measured by the Google metric, peaked in early 2004 and then declined. Over the entire 13-year period searches for ‘W. Nee’ averaged only 50% of its early peak. More strikingly, since March 2013 interest has been consistently below that level, on a declining trend. At the end of our observation period (Nov./Dec. 2016) “Watchman Nee” searches were less than 30% of the 2004 peak.26

Interest in “Witness Lee” is declining
Over the whole period Google searches for the topic “Witness Lee” average 30% of those for “Watchman Nee;” ‘W. Lee’ searches (yellow) peaked in Sept. 2004. In the interval 2004-16 search interest in ‘W. Lee’ averaged only 37% of the peak. Since Jun. 2014 it was consistently below 37%. In 2016 interest averaged below 25% of its peak. The decline in Internet interest in both ‘W. Nee’ & ‘W. Lee’ has occurred roughly in parallel, with the result that ‘W. Lee’ has approx. 30% of the search traffic as ‘W. Nee’ throughout the period. Both have declined. Nevertheless the longevity of Watchman Nee’s appeal, some 65 years after his active ministry ended, is striking. Without establishing his own institutional legacy, with a ministry that ended 50 years before W. Lee’s finished, Watchman Nee still ‘out polls’ Witness Lee, in terms of Google searches, by a ratio of 3:1. That’s impressive!

‘LSM’ Internet Interest dwarfs ‘W. Nee’ & ‘W. Lee’
The left-hand-side bar-graph conveys a second striking fact--Internet searches for “Living Stream Ministry (non-profit corporation)” (the blue bar) dwarf searches for the topics, “Watchman Nee” (red bar) & “Witness Lee” (yellow bar). Watchman Nee searches are ½ (52%) of those for LSM; Witness Lee searches are 16% of LSM. In a pair-wise comparison, W. Lee searches are 30% of those for W. Nee; this is a recurring statistic.

Throughout the period by this metric LSM’s Internet presence dominates that of the two ministers whom LSM promotes; an organization has eclipsed its ministers! Globally, over the 13-year period (2004 to 2016) Google searches for ‘LSM’ outnumber those of ‘W. Nee’ plus ‘W. Lee’ (combined) by a factor of 1.5. Worldwide, searches for ‘LSM’ occur twice as often (1.93) as for ‘W. Nee,’ more than six times as frequently (6.44) as for ‘W. Lee.’ The dominance of ‘LSM’ searches may reflect the abundant resources LSM devoted to promoting these two ministers, especially W. Lee. Yet, the fact that all three measures display a protracted declining trend suggests that LSM (despite its best efforts) has failed to offset an underlying decline in interest. This does not portend a bright future for LSM & its Local Churches; rather it presages slower growth, stagnation or decay.

Cross-Country Comparisons
Google data indicate the origin of searches. 58 countries have sufficient data on one or more index for country-specific analysis. ‘LSM’ searches register on Google’s ‘radar’ in 50 (86%) of these countries; ‘W. Nee’ in 39 (67%), & ‘W. Lee’ in 13 (22%). Notably 8 countries (14%) in two major zones--central Africa & Central America, register for ‘W. Nee,’ but not ‘LSM’ or ‘W. Lee;’ here interest in ‘W. Nee’ seems independent of LSM & W. Lee.

Of the 50 ‘LSM’ countries, in 17 (34%) cases only ‘LSM’ appears; for 20 countries (40%) only ‘LSM’ & ‘W. Nee’ register, while 11 countries27 (20%) yield data on these plus ‘W. Lee,’ so all 3 indexes are reported. In two cases (4%)--Taiwan & Japan--only ‘W. Lee’ and ‘LSM’ register. This is striking--‘W. Lee’ never registers above Google thresholds in the absence of ‘LSM.’ This suggests ‘W. Lee’s’ prominence in a country is dependent on LSM’s support and promotion. In contrast, ‘W. Nee’ registers in five countries across Africa (Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya) & three Central American countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica), where ‘LSM’ does not register. This suggests ‘W. Nee’ has significant appeal independent of LSM and W. Lee.

In Global trends (Figure 1) the three measures are positively correlated—they move in the same (downward) direction. However, looking across countries a different pattern emerges. In some major areas--South America (e.g., Brazil, Chile, Venezuela), Central America (e.g. Costa Rica, Guatemala) & Africa (e.g. Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, & Ethiopia)28 search frequency for ‘Watchman Nee’ exceeds that for ‘LSM.’ Elsewhere, ‘LSM’ searches generally exceed ‘W. Nee’ (e.g. US, UK, Phil., Mex.). So, across countries, interest in ‘W. Nee’ & ‘LSM’ appear inversely related. Again, in no single country does ‘W. Lee’ exceed ‘LSM.’ Plus, every country where ‘W. Lee’ searches register, ‘LSM’ also registers on Google’s ‘radar.’ Hence, ‘W. Lee’ appears dependent on ‘LSM,’ and has also been eclipsed by the ‘LSM Corporation,’ which W. Lee created to be the “continuation of me.”29 Does this represent successful globalization? LSM’s professed goal is to promote W. Lee’s teachings; it ought to raise his profile, not its own. “Witness Lee must increase and LSM must decrease” ought to be LSM’s mantra.

Global Variations
Looking across countries, the most dramatic result is that the small Baltic country of Latvia dominates as the source of ‘LSM’ searches (see below). The 2nd ranked country is Taiwan with 16% of Latvia’s volume. ‘LSM’ searches originate from all continents—Asia (China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Japan, India), Australia/NZ, Europe (Latvia, Poland, Germany, France, Spain, Belgium, UK), Scandinavia, Africa (S. Africa, Nigeria), N. America (Canada, US, Mex.) & S. America (Columbia, Argentina, Brazil). LSM also registers in predominantly Muslim countries, e.g. Turkey & Pakistan. Gauged by Google Trends the LSM Corporation has a global presence.

W. Nee’s Ministry is Global; W. Lee’s is Not Global
Nigeria generates by far the highest interest in “Watchman Nee.” The countries, Columbia, Brazil & Mexico, each had 10-15% of Nigeria’s search interest in ‘W. Nee.’ The US originated about one-tenth (9%) of Nigeria’s search level. Canada (6%), India (3%) & UK (3%) also registered as search origins. Looking at global cities, Africa gains focus— Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Abidjan (Ivory Coast), Accra (Ghana) & Lagos (Nigeria) rank 1-2-3-4, then Nairobi (Kenya) in East Africa. This ‘cut of the data’ also adds Singapore to the mix.30 The net result is that Google searches for the topic “Watchman Nee” are widely distributed around the globe; this suggests that, 45-years after his passing, Watchman Nee’s ministry still has global appeal, although it is diminishing.

In this global three-way comparison, Internet searches for the topic, “Witness Lee” register above Google’s threshold only for the US (in top spot) & Brazil (at 90% of US level).31 But, viewing individual countries adds 11 more—Columbia (S. America), Canada & Mexico, Germany & UK (Europe), Nigeria, China, Taiwan, Japan, Philippines & India (Asia). Google searches for ‘Witness Lee’ appear more concentrated than LSM or W. Nee.32 These results raise the issue—does Witness Lee’s ministry have global appeal? There is little interest in Witness Lee’s ministry from vast areas of major importance to global Christianity like Black Africa (from Ivory Coast/ Ghana to Ethiopia/Kenya). Among Central African countries with sufficient data, only in Nigeria does ‘W. Lee’ register on ‘the radar,’ and then only just.33 This confirms our doubts about Dr. Liu’s statistics for Africa. We ask--if W. Lee’s ministry does not generate significant interest across Black Africa, can it be considered ‘global’?

In W. Europe, ‘Witness Lee’ only registers on Google’s ‘radar’ for the UK and Germany (the latter only just). Meanwhile ‘W. Nee’ registers in these 2 countries plus Netherlands, France, Italy & Spain. ‘LSM’ registers in all these W. European countries, plus 7 more. However, LSM’s activities don’t appear to have generated significant interest in Witness Lee outside the UK & Germany. Here again search interest in Witness Lee appears limited.
While Watchman Nee’s ministry generates global interest, W. Lee’s much less so. China, India & Philippines display interest. But, only in two Asian countries—Japan & Taiwan—do Google searches for ‘W. Lee’ exceed those for ‘W. Nee;’ and, as far as global Christianity is concerned, these two nations are minor players.34

Riga, Latvia--Hotbed of LSM Internet Activity
An interesting sidebar is results for the small Baltic country of Latvia. The premier source of worldwide Google searches for ‘LSM’ is Riga, the capital of Latvia. If Riga, Latvia is ranked highest, at 100% in terms of ‘LSM’ searches, Lublin (Poland) rates 21% of Riga’s level, followed by Da’an District, Taipei (Taiwan) at 14%,35 Cape Town & Johannesburg (S. Africa) at 13% & 12%, Montreal (Canada) 10%. These results seem bizarre, until we realise that Riga (Latvia) is LSM’s center for its Russian-language work.36 Likewise Lublin is LSM’s Polish center and Taipei’s Da’an district is site of the Church in Taipei Hall #3 (FTTT). Riga’s top ranking could be due to LSM’s Russian activities involving extensive use of LSM’s resources at their US HQ & LSM’s communication with representatives (‘full-timers,’ church-elders & local churches) throughout the Russian-speaking world. Figure #2 graphs the Google results for “LSM (non-profit corp.)” 2004- Jan 2017 for Latvia:37

https://www.google.ca/trends/explore...,%2Fm%2F01lmcg

The graph of Google search activity suggests that Riga, Latvia assumed its role as the hub of LSM’s Russian project from 2013 onwards. These results, linking ‘LSM’ searches with LSM’s centers—Riga Latvia and Da’an District, Taipei (Taiwan)--support our conjecture that this item reflects the organizational activity of people within the Local Church movement (including LSM’s & TGBR’s own personnel), rather than new ‘contacts.’
These results suggest that LSM continues to devote a huge proportion of resources to its Russian-language activities. In terms of countries LSM-related Internet searches linked to Latvia dwarf those from the rest of the world by a factor of 50%.38 We deduce from this that the LSM Corporation continues to invest considerable resources to maintain its Russian-language activities. Indeed, if these Google results are indicative of LSM’s overall resource allocation, the Russian work (based in Riga, Latvia)39 is receiving a disproportional share of resources. Yet Google Trends data suggest that the returns on this investment are meagre. In Eastern Europe (including Russia) the topic “Witness Lee” never registers on Google’s radar. In Russia, Poland, and Ukraine40 ‘LSM’ and “Watchman Nee” transcend Google’s data threshold; but “Witness Lee” does not.

US Google Search Trends
Figure #3 (below) presents the US results for 1/1/2004 to 12/31/2016 with LSM (in blue), W. Nee (red), & W. Lee (yellow). If we focus on the US a similar picture emerges to the global results. The left-hand-side bar-graph indicates that LSM (the blue bar) received the most Google searches, followed by W. Nee (red bar; ~85% of LSM), then W. Lee (yellow bar; 25% of LSM). A pair-wise comparison shows the search volume for W. Lee is only 30% of that for W. Nee; this ratio is the same as the global figure (see Figure 1 above).

https://www.google.ca/trends/explore...,%2Fm%2F01lmcg

‘LSM,’ ‘W. Nee’ & ‘W. Lee’ all in Decline
US Google searches for LSM (non-profit corporation) (in blue) reach an annual peak in July at LSM’s training; the highest peak was in July 2006. Since then it has trended downwards. Over the 13-years, interest averaged half the peak (47%). Since Aug. 2013 Internet interest has been consistently below that average. For the past year (2016) it has fluctuated around 1/3 of the peak. This suggests declining US search interest in ‘LSM.’

The data indicate that US Internet interest in all 3 search topics—’LSM,’ ‘W. Nee’ & ‘W. Lee’—is declining. Since all three have declined roughly in parallel the ratios are (overall) little changed. Over the past 13-years interest in the search topic ‘W. Nee’ was 83% of that in ‘LSM,’ and searches for ‘W. Lee’ have averaged 25% of LSM. W. Lee searches were 30% of those for W. Nee. I see little in these results to encourage LSM-adherents. Perhaps a glimmer of hope it lies in the mid-2012 up-tick in W. Lee interest. By June 2o12 W. Lee searches dipped to 42% of their average. Then from June to Sept. 2012 the index rose to 180% of its average—a fourfold increase. But after this dramatic up-tick W. Lee searches resumed their downward trend, ending 2016 at 2/3 the average; Hence, in retrospect, it was a temporary pause in the decline, not a reversal of the overall declining trend.

Impact of US Congress’ Recognition
The US Congress officially recognized both, Watchman Nee & Witness Lee, the former July 30 2009, the latter Sept. 27, 2014. Do the Google data indicate any impact? Recognition might have had a short-term effect. From July to Aug. 2012 Google searches for W. Nee rose by ~12%. However, the following month they fell 22%. The impact of W. Lee’s recognition is similar—a one-month boost, offset by the next month’s decline. No doubt there was an effect on the morale of LSM’s Local Church, but we can’t detect any lasting effects on our metrics.

US Geographic Variations
The regional distribution of ‘LSM’ searches is unsurprising; CA, WA, & TX rank 1-2-3. When sorted by city, Los Angeles & San Diego, CA. take the top two spots, in a virtual tie, followed by Dallas & Houston, TX; then SF, NYC and Chicago round out 7 US cities that register on Google’s ‘radar.’
Google searches for ‘W. Nee’ are widely distributed across the US, roughly matching the distribution of evangelical Christians. Twenty-one US states—including the most populous—register. Interest is highest in the SE states (Virginia to Florida), Texas follows, plus the mid-West states. On the West coast, CA & WA register, plus AZ & CO. The NE also registers (PA, NY, NJ, MD, MA). About 18 Metropolitan areas distributed across the US, led by Charlotte, NC, register as origins for ‘Watchman Nee’ searches, suggesting widely-dispersed interest.

Again the picture for “Witness Lee’ searches is more concentrated; only four states CA, TX (72% of CA), NY (33% of CA) & VI (28% of CA) among 50 states, register above the threshold. Only six metro-areas: Sacramento
(100%), LA (89%) San Fran./San Jose (52%) Dallas/Fort Worth (48%) DC (32%) & NYC (21%) register.

High Interest in W. Nee linked to Low Interest in LSM/W. Lee
When examining ‘LSM’ and ‘W. Nee’ jointly, an interesting pattern emerges. For the whole US ‘LSM’ searches exceed ‘W. Nee’—100% to 83%. Of the 27 US states that register, 15 states exhibit greater search interest in Watchman Nee than in LSM; these 15 are concentrated in the SE (VI to AL, LA, FL, & TN) plus the line of states from PA to CO (excluding IL). Elsewhere, for 12 states ‘LSM’ searches exceed “W. Nee;” these include the US West Coast, TX, & the North East, plus Midwest states—WI, IL, MI. Thus there are regional differences, with the US SE, the “Bible Belt,” more interested in W. Nee’s ministry than LSM. Looking at ‘W. Nee’ searches by Metro area, Raleigh/Durham (NC) ranks #1, (100%), Columbus (OH) ranks #2, (95%) followed by Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX #3 (89%), Atlanta, GA (84%) & San Antonio, TX (82%). These Metro-areas traverse the “Bible Belt.” Here again there’s a suggested inverse relation—a high interest in W. Nee linked with a low interest in ‘LSM.’

Turning to “Witness Lee” as a US search topic, while 24 states register for ‘LSM’ searches, only four register for ‘W. Lee’—CA, TX, NY & VI. These 4 also register for ‘LSM,’ hence there is no state where ‘W. Lee’ registers, but not ‘LSM,’ and no state where ‘W. Lee’ searches exceed ‘LSM.’ Again this suggests dependence—interest in W. Lee is dependent upon LSM’s support & promotion. Yet some regions where interest in LSM is high (e.g. the NW41) fail to register for ‘W. Lee;’ here it seems LSM has failed to generate interest in W. Lee. Prof. P. Chang observes “Lee’s followers...have now established local congregations in every state in the U.S.”42 Yet Google data suggests that in many states there is merely a token presence of LSM’s Local Church. In 46 states searches for the “major Asian-American theological figure”--Witness Lee--fail to register on Google Trends’ radar.

‘W. Lee’ is searched only 3o% as frequently as ‘W. Nee.’ In some respects regions of high search interest for W. Nee or W. Lee are disjoint. The SE US states exhibit a high level of interest in ‘Watchman Nee.’ Meanwhile, the SE states don’t register above the threshold for ‘Witness Lee.’ Plus 8 Midwest US states register for ‘W. Nee,’ but not for ‘W. Lee.’ Apparently in some US regions—for example, the SE & the Midwest—the two ministries are considered as alternatives, rather than as complements. Witness Lee always claimed to be Watchman Nee’s continuation, but these US regions don’t seem to treat him as such; rather a greater affinity for Watchman Nee seems associated with disinterest in Witness Lee.

US vs. the Rest-of-the World
A major difference between the US and the global results (above) is a lower level of US Internet searches for ‘LSM’ relative to those for ‘W. Nee’ & ‘W. Lee.’ Globally, combining the searches for W. Nee and W. Lee equal approximately two-thirds (65%) of the ‘LSM’ search level. In the US the combination exceeds 100% (~110%) of the LSM search level. Stated differently, Google searches for ‘W. Lee’ were around 15% of ‘LSM’ searches world-wide; that number is almost double (26%) in the US. Likewise, the search topic, ‘W. Nee’ was around 50% (53%) of LSM searches globally; in the US, this number is around 80%. Hence, Google’s Internet data imply that, outside the US, the LSM-corporation assumes a more important role than the ‘one ministry’ of W. Nee & W. Lee. In the US the opposite is true— Google searches for ‘W. Nee’ or ‘W. Lee’ are more important relative to ‘LSM.’ Despite this contrast, W. Lee’s importance relative to W. Nee is the same—30%--for the US & the globe.

US—LSM vs. Titus Chu
Before leaving the US let’s take a moment to analyse the effects of LSM’s October, 2006, public quarantine [excommunication] of Titus Chu, a worker among the Great Lakes Area [GLA] Local Churches. Figure 4 (below) reproduces the graphs for the US adding the Google search term,43 “Titus Chu” (in purple) to the three series tracked in Figure 3. It also extends the data by including Jan. 2017.

The graph for “Titus Chu” (in purple) tracks below the other series and also has an overall declining trend. Over the entire period “Titus Chu” was searched one-fifth (18.75%) as often as “W. Lee,” and only 6% of “W. Nee’s” search frequency. Interest in “Titus Chu” peaked in Oct./Nov. 2006, the date of LSM’s “quarantine,” declining thereafter. In recent years US Google search interest in ‘Titus Chu’ appears to be minimal and sporadic.
What were the effects of LSM’s quarantine? We divide the data into pre- and post-quarantine. Before LSM’s quarantine, interest in ‘T. Chu’ was about 30% (28.6%) of ‘W. Lee,’ and about 15% (12.9%) of ‘W. Nee.’ After LSM’s quarantine (Oct. 2006 onwards), ‘T. Chu’ fell by one-half (to 14.3%) relative to ‘W. Lee,’ and by two-

https://www.google.ca/trends/explore...ee,Titus%20Chu

thirds (to 4.3%) relative to ‘W. Nee.’ Clearly in these data, quarantine seems to have had a sizeable negative effect on ‘Titus Chu.’ But this is not the whole story. The same data partition shows a negative effect on ‘W. Lee.’ Before LSM’s quarantine, search frequency for ‘W. Lee’ was 45% of ‘W. Nee’s’ frequency; after LSM’s quarantine, ‘W. Lee’ fell to 30% (29.5%) of ‘W. Nee.’ We conclude that LSM’s actions damaged both “brands”—that of ‘Titus Chu’ and also that of ‘W. Lee.’ Yet, the effect on Titus Chu appears greater—while ‘W. Lee’ fell by one-third (relative to W. Nee), ‘Titus Chu’ fell by two-thirds. W. Nee’s ‘brand’ appears unscathed.44 We believe these asymmetric effects are due (in part) to LSM’s strength in terms of money, manpower & legal resources.

Brazil—LSM vs. Editora Arvore da Vida
Brazil’s situation is worth a closer look in view of the on-going conflict between Witness Lee’s LSM-corporation and Yu-Lan Dong’s Arvore da Vida [‘Tree of Life’] organization.45 LSM’s ‘blended brothers’ also quarantined [excommunication] Yu-Lan Dong (along with Titus Chu of the US Great Lakes area) in Oct. 2006. In 2009 they further revoked Árvore da Vida’s right to translate W. Nee’s and W. Lee’s writings into Portuguese.
The search term “Editora Arvore da Vida” [Editor Tree of Life] is used to proxy Yu-Lan Dong’s organization.46 Figure 5 (below) displays 4 items—“LSM” (in blue), the topics ‘W. Nee’ (red), ‘W. Lee’ (yellow) and the search term “Editora Arvore da Vida” [EAdV] (in green) for Brazil. In a pattern now familiar to us, all four series peak early in the period (2004-5) and decline thereafter. Overall, as shown by the left-hand-side bar-graph, the most popular search topic in Brazil is ‘W. Nee,’ (red bar) followed by ‘LSM’ (blue bar, ~75% of W. Nee), “EAdV” (green ~60%) and ‘W. Lee’ (yellow bar, ~45% of W. Nee). The first half of Figure 4 is an interwoven profusion. However, later a clear ‘leader’ emerges. We note that comparing the last 5 years to the prior period, searches for ‘Watchman Nee’ have increased relative to both ‘LSM’ & “W. Lee;” thus the red line—‘W. Nee’--emerges above the others on the right-hand-side of Figure 5. Meanwhile the ‘W. Lee’ series ‘bounces along the bottom.’

The rival organizations—’LSM’ (blue) & “EAdV” (green)—have remained stable relative to one another, while both have declined. We suspect the on-going conflict between W. Lee’s LSM-Corp. & Yu-Lan Dong’s Editora Arvore da Vida has damaged both their “brands.” Unfortunately, the “saints,” are treated as the “spoils of war” in this conflict between Yu-Lan Dong & LSM’s ‘blended brothers’ over who is W. Lee’s legitimate successor.

https://www.google.ca/trends/explore...re%20da%20vida

Interest in ‘W. Lee’ has declined from about ½ of ‘W. Nee’ (47% 2004-10) to about 30% (32% 2011-16) which suggests damage to “W. Lee’s” brand from the conflict; thus the “spoils” accruing to LSM’s ‘blended brothers’ are less than anticipated. Meanwhile, Watchman Nee’s “brand,” which existed prior to both Yu-Lan Dong and LSM’s ‘blended brothers,’ is more resilient and has emerging relatively unscathed. These findings for Brazil are consistent with those related to Titus Chu in the US (above). Perhaps these two cases help explain why Witness Lee’s ‘brand’ displays only a fraction—typically 30%--of W. Nee’s search interest. We find that LSM’s predatory actions against T. Chu & Y-L Dong have damaged the ‘W. Lee brand.’ This suggests that Witness Lee’s prior predatory47 initiatives—e.g. his ‘one publication’ policy vs. Bill Freeman (Seattle, 1986) & Fermentation of the Present Rebellion (~1990) vs. John Ingalls, Bill Mallon, John So, Joseph Fung—also damaged his own ‘brand.’

Conclusions
20 years after his passing, academics recently discovered Witness Lee.48 In their euphoria they declared the globalization of W. Lee’s ministry via his LSM Corporation & its affiliates (e.g. FTTA) an unparalleled success story. Their writings will be trumpeted among LSM’s Local Churches as a vindication of the “Lord’s Recovery.” Such celebration would be misplaced and premature. While announcing LSM’s “success story,” these scholars recognize the “globalization of W. Lee’s ministry” is the globalization of an institution--the LSM Corporation. Watchman Nee, the Recovery’s “founding father,” eloquently warned against repeating the cycle of “blessing in the first generation, organization in the 2nd generation, and degradation in the 3rd generation.”49 Yet, Witness Lee not only repeated this cycle, he formally established it, saying, “I am the continuation of Brother Nee; I would like to have a continuation of me, and this needs a corporation...The Living Stream Corporation...”

We analysed Google Trends data to examine the scholars’ globalization hypothesis. We posit that searches for “LSM (non-profit corporation)” largely represent the activities of LSM & its affiliates (TGBR, trainees, elders, translators, etc) as it directs its personnel and interacts with existing Local Church members. The finding that ‘LSM’ searches identify Riga, Latvia and Da’an District, Taipei, Taiwan as LSM hubs supports this contention. We graphed Google search topics—Watchman Nee & Witness Lee--against the LSM data. Our key findings are:

1. Globally and for the US, Google searches for ‘LSM’ exceed those for ‘W. Nee,’ which (in turn) exceeds ‘W. Lee.’ All 3 series display overall declining trends (with fluctuations). These trends are not LSM’s friends.

2. Latvia is a notable exception--Google searches for ‘LSM’ rose sharply. It is the hub for LSM’s Russian work

3. Only in two small Asian countries—Japan & Taiwan—does search interest in W. Lee exceed that of W. Nee.

4. In all the countries with sufficient data, both Watchman Nee & Witness Lee manifest declining search interest. There is not one significant country where Google search interest for these 2 topics is growing.

5. We find evidence of globalization: Both LSM & W. Nee display a global presence. However, ‘W. Nee’ is not dependent on ‘LSM.’ ‘W. Nee’ search interest registers in Africa (Ghana, Ivory Coast, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya) & C. America (El Salvador, Costa Rica, Guatemala) where ‘LSM’ doesn’t register on Google’s ‘radar.’

6. The volume & dispersion of ‘W. Lee’ searches is much more limited. ‘W. Lee’ registers in only 13 (26%) of LSM’s 50 countries. There is no country where ‘Witness Lee’ registers where ‘LSM’ does not; this suggests dependence. The results suggest LSM’s globalization has not generated a global interest in “Witness Lee.”

7. 65 years after his active ministry ended W. Nee retains his global appeal. He never established his own institution to perpetuate his legacy, yet W. Nee still ‘out polls’ W. Lee by a ratio of 3:1. Despite establishing the LSM Corporation as his continuation, ‘W. Lee’ searches are only 30% of ‘W. Nee,’ globally & in the US.

8. Witness Lee’s ministry has not been globalized, despite LSM’s global reach. Black Africa fails to register significant search interest in ‘Witness Lee.’ Plus Witness Lee’s appeal in continental Europe is minimal.

9. The 3 time-series are positively correlated (all exhibit downward trends) yet, across countries & US regions ‘W. Nee’ & ‘W. Lee’ seem inversely related; areas of high W. Nee appeal have low interest in W. Lee. W. Lee’s repeatedly claimed to be W. Nee’s continuation, but Christian ‘consumers’ do not treat him as such.

10. Google Trends’ data suggests that LSM’s predatory behavior—quarantining Titus Chu (US Great Lakes) & Yu-Lan Dong (Brazil)--has damaged the reputations of those attacked. However, it has also damaged W. Lee’s reputation (relative to W. Nee). Meanwhile W. Nee’s reputation has emerged relatively unscathed.
We are well aware that “statistics do not speak for themselves,” as Milton Friedman, Nobel Prize Economist, famously said; they require interpretation. While alternative theories are possible, we offer the following, guided by the principle of “Ockham’s razor”--simpler explanations are preferable to more complex ones.50

We suggest reasons for the decade-long decline in the three metrics: LSM & its affiliates offer only two “product lines”—the ministries of W. Lee and W. Nee. These define LSM’s “brand;” LSM’s own teachings preclude them from ‘expanding their product line.’ W. Lee’s theology was “canonized in 1997;” his entire corpus has now been translated & published online & in print. It is fixed like the law of the Medes & Persians (Dan. 6:8, 15). W. Lee’s teachings define Local Church orthodoxy and its orthopraxy. Practices W. Lee endorsed are accepted; those he condemned are rejected. Contemporary Christian music & drama videos, for e.g., are anathema to LSM and its Local Churches.51 They have ‘painted themselves into a corner’ in terms of innovation & future development. LSM’s Local Church is a “one-trick pony;” it has W. Lee’s teachings and nothing else. No new hymns or worship songs were produced, besides unsingable “banner songs”--W. Lee’s slogans set to music.52 LSM’s unchanging ‘product’—Witness Lee’s teachings--in the context of a changing society is a recipe for decline.

Witness Lee claimed his ministry was ‘Joseph’s storehouse’ in the midst of Christianity’s ‘famine.’ 53 Our analysis belies this myth. We find no evidence of a huge pent-up demand among ‘starving Christians’ for W. Lee’s teachings. Only in two Asian countries, both with small Christian populations—Taiwan & Japan—do we find interest in ‘W. Lee’ surpassing that of ‘W. Nee.’ Elsewhere, despite LSM’s concerted efforts to promote his ministry, search interest in Witness Lee falls far short of Watchman Nee, both in volume and global reach. Without established his own institution to perpetuate his legacy, W. Nee still achieves a level of influence far greater than W. Lee. Conversely, despite establishing the LSM Corporation as his continuation, Witness Lee’s influence is substantially less than W. Nee—‘W. Lee’ searches are only 30% of ‘W. Nee,’ globally and in the US.

LSM’s Widening ‘Relevance Gap’
LSM’s teachings & practices haven’t changed for two decades. Meanwhile, the issues confronting Christians have changed; the “relevance gap” between LSM’s publications and Christians’ concerns has widened. LSM’s publications do not address issues raised by Islam & radical jihad, for e.g.54 where does radical Islam fit in LSM’s prophetic scenario? To cite another e.g., searching LSM for “environment, climate change, global warming,” produces no significant results. Homosexuality,55 gay rights, and same-sex marriage are never addressed; yet these are ‘hot topics’ which Christians in 21st-century N. America are being forced to address.

Neither W. Lee nor W. Nee addressed these issues, since they were not ‘front and center’ during their era. Perhaps the indexes’ declining interest reflects the principle espoused by Watchman Nee—“David served his own generation [Acts 13:36], he could not serve two.”56 If W. Nee and W. Lee were indeed “ministers of the Age,” that “age” was the 20th century, not the 21st. Their destiny is decline, a destiny which organized institutions, like Witness Lee’s LSM Corporation, can temporarily forestall, but cannot prevent long-term.

Nigel Tomes,
Toronto, CANADA,
January, 2017


Notes
Thanks are extended to those who commented on earlier drafts. The author alone is responsible for the contents of this piece. The views expressed here are solely the author’s and should not be attributed to any believers, elders, co-workers or churches with which he is associated.
1. W. Nee, Messages for Building up New Believers, Vol. 3, Ch. 11, Sect. 7 (emphasis added). The quote in context reads: “Another phenomenon among Protestants is this cycle: A person is raised up during a certain generation. This person receives much grace & blessing from the Lord; much blessing is manifested in his generation. After his generation passes away, the 2nd generation remains somewhat good. But by the end of the 2nd generation, men begin to pay attention to other things. They begin to say, ‘We have received so much grace from the Lord; we should think of some means to preserve this grace. We should form an organization to carry on & maintain this grace.’ By the 2nd or 3rd generation, organization comes in. Sometimes organization comes in even by the end of the 1st generation. They believe that God is the Giver of grace, but they do not believe that God is also the Preserver of grace. They believe in God's blessing, but they cannot believe in God's continual blessing. As a result, human creeds, regulations, & ways & means are introduced in an effort to maintain the blessing. When the fountain is closed, the water in the pool dries up sooner or later; the water level no longer rises. By the 3rd generation, the condition becomes quite dead, & everything reverts to the same condition as before, a condition which they originally came out of. Then God has to go to another person or to a few persons who will seek new vision, new blessing, new separation, & new grace. This will bring in another period of revival. This cycle repeats itself: blessing in the 1st generation, organization in the 2nd generation, & degradation in the 3rd generation.” [W. Nee, Messages for Building up New Believers, Vol. 3, Ch. 11, Sect. 7]
2. The quote in context reads: “... In a meeting with the brothers to whom he committed the responsibility for Living Stream Ministry, Brother Lee said, ‘My burden is for the recovery based on the interpretation of Brother Nee and me. I am the continuation of Brother Nee; I would like to have a continuation of me, and this needs a corporation ...The Living Stream corporation will continue this ministry’ (from unpublished notes of a meeting of Living Stream, July 12, 1996). He placed the direction of this corporation for the continuation and publication of the ministry in the hands of a group of blended brothers, who labor to fulfill this charge before the Lord...” [Emphasis added] This quote might be considered an embarrassment to Witness Lee & LSM’s “Blended Brothers.” However, LSM’s “Blended Brothers need this statement (or something similar) to establish the validity of their claim to be the legitimate successors of Witness Lee & his ministry.
3. Witness Lee always claimed his ministry was the same as Watchman Nee’s, that they had the same ministry. For e.g. W. Lee said, “In the Lord's recovery today there is not only my ministry but also Brother Watchman Nee's ministry. These are not two ministries; they are one ministry and one speaking.” [W. Lee, Crucial Principles for the Proper Church Life, Ch. 4, Sect. 2] He also asserted that “It is also a devilish, subtle lie to say that...Witness Lee is different from Watchman Nee...We need to see...the real ministry that the Lord has given us through Brother Nee. His [W. Nee’s] ministry was... the ministry of Christ for the church...eventually this becomes our ministry.” [W. Lee, History of the Church & the Local Churches, Ch. 8, Sect. 8]
4. W. Lee, Timely Word, Ch. 3, Sect. 3 & also Elders' Training, Bk. 9: Eldership & the God-Ordained Way (1), Ch. 5, St. 5 (emphasis added)
5. Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” Journal of Asian/North American Theological Educators (JANATE) Vol. 2, #1 (2016) p. 97
6. Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” Journal of Asian/North American Theological Educators (JANATE) Vol. 2, no. 1 (2016) p. 93. The quote in context reads: “In 1989...Witness Lee (Li Changshou) founded [the FTTA] that is now one of the largest post-graduate theological institutions in the US. The school currently enrolls well over 300 full-time equivalents. Bucking national trends, it shows healthy signs of growth, recently opening an extension campus in Boston to complement its main campus in S. California. Furthermore, these N. American campuses are only one national manifestation of a larger phenomenon. Internationally, there are about a dozen such schools representing every inhabited continent, all of which trace their founding to the same Chinese-American minister...a major Asian-American theological figure.” [Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” Journal of Asian/North American Theological Educators (JANATE) Vol. 2, no. 1 (2016) p. 93] Regarding the FTT “full-time training: in addition to Taiwan [FTTT], other centers were established in the Philippines in 1984; Anaheim, California in 1989; Moscow, in 1992; Hamilton, New Zealand, in 1993; Jakarta in 1995; Seoul in 1996; and London in 1997,” writes Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity:,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 106
7. W. Nee, Messages for Building up New Believers, Vol. 3, Ch. 11, St. 7
8. Concerning the case of Uzzah (2 Sam. 6:6-11), W. Nee says, “God did not allow man to uphold errors with fleshly hands. Perhaps you think that your idea is better than God's ways. But God will not allow you to change anything. You can only work according to God's design.” [W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 37, Ch. 34, Sect. 4] In this context W. Lee says, “David was indeed wrong in moving the ark according to the worldly way...” Then he asks, “Is your way by ‘the cart,’ or by the priests carrying the ark? Are you proceeding according to the worldly system, or according to God’s revelation?” [W. Lee, Vision of God's Building, Ch. 10, Sect. 2] This question ought to be asked of LSM’s role.
9. Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” JANATE, Vol. 2, #1 (2016) p. 97
10. Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity:,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 108
11. Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 111
12. Dr. Yi Liu writes “Witness Lee’s journey exemplifies a Chinese church becoming globalized as a result of political, religious and international changes in the latter half of the 20th century.” (Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 97)
13. Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 110. Elsewhere Dr. Liu writes, “The Local Church Movement initiated by Watchman Nee (1903-1972) & Witness Lee (1905-1997), is one of few Chinese Christian churches, which went global...” writes Dr. Yi Liu of Shanghai University, China. [Yi Liu, “Building a Global Network of Local Churches: Vital Group, Home Meeting, & Corporate Body,” International Journal of Sino-Western Studies (English translation of the Chinese abstract)] Regarding the statistics reported by Dr. Liu, he reports that in “the author’s communication with some leading persons of the [LSM] movement, there is no exact statistics of its members. Sometimes, they do not even know where these numbers come from.” [Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 110, note 27]
14. Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 110
15. About 5 years ago the author visited & ministered among the non-LSM local churches in Ghana (e.g. Accra, Kumasi, etc). During that 3-week visit, this author saw no evidence for the presence of significant LSM-linked local churches in Ghana. The local churches in Ghana were raised up by Brother Ransford Ackah. After the 1980s “turmoil” [John Ingalls (US), Bill Mallon (US), John So (Germany), Joseph Fung (HK) were excommunicated (‘quarantined’)] Ransford & the local churches in Ghana were “cut loose” by W. Lee & LSM, suspected of being too closely related to these 4 brothers. These local churches are the ones this author visited; they are not affiliated with LSM & reject such links. W. Lee & LSM have never restored their level of influence in W. Africa or (for that matter) Germany. We suggest that the number for Ghana is one case where “they [LSM] do not even know where these numbers come from” (n. 13 above).
16. “Status of Global Missions, 2012...” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol., 36, No. 1 (Jan. 2012) p. 29
17. Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 110 (emph. added)
18. W. Lee said, “The Lord did not want me to work among the Chinese immigrants. Rather, He wanted me to bring His recovery to the typical Americans.” [W. Lee, Rising up to Preach the Gospel, p. 22 (emphasis added)]
19. Even among the non-LSM Great Lakes Area ‘local churches,’ in many places the Asian presence is predominant. Among those I am somewhat familiar with, the “Church in Naperville” (IL.), the “Church in Ann Arbor” (MI), the “Church in Mississauga” (ON, Canada) & the “Church in Montreal” (PQ, Canada) are all essentially “Chinese-churches,” largely composed of people of mainland Chinese- (or more generally Asian-) origin. In these “Local Churches,” “Chinese-speaking meeting” attendants often outnumber the “English- (or French-) speaking meeting;” the latter being composed mainly of 2nd–generation, young people of Asian ethnicity. Moreover, these churches operate within an Asian-cultural milieu.
20. https://www.google.ca/trends/?hl=en
21. See my: “Signs of Decline in LSM’s ‘Recovery’” http://localchurchdiscussions.com/vB...ead.php?t=5263 It is important to note that the present piece is not merely a replication & up-dating of the previous article. Google Trends’ analytical tools have been significantly enhanced. Plus here we analyse the role of the LSM Corporation.
22. Google Trends generates charts for China. However, given the tiny fraction of searches conducted via Google it is highly unlikely that Google data is representative of the country as a whole (e.g. foreign nationals are likely over-represented). Similarly charts can be generated for S. Korea, but are they representative of the whole country? “Worldwide” results incorporate the un-representative samples from China & S. Korea (They are legitimate parts of Google’s global searches for our indexes). Since these Google samples are unlikely to be representative of China (or S. Korea) as a whole we forgo any discussion of the Google country-specific results for China or S. Korea (we include them in country-counts).
23. Officially known as the Living Stream Bible Truth & Church Service Training, but, commonly known as the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA), the Full-Time Training in Jakarta, Indonesia (FTTJ) etc..
24. Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity: A Study of Watchman Nee & Witness Lee’s Ministry,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016) p. 96
25. Professor Paul Chang notes Watchman Nee’s widespread reputation when he writes, Witness “Lee’s message [was] derived from [W.] Nee’s... In the context of the Cold War, Watchman Nee’s imprisonment was something of a cause célèbre in the evangelical subculture.” [Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” Journal of Asian/North American Theological Educators (JANATE) Vol. 2, no. 1 (2016) p. 94]
26. These observations are based on a Google Trends pair-wise comparison of ‘W. Nee’ & ‘W. Lee’ (without ‘LSM’). That figure is not reproduced here)
27. The 11 countries where all 3 indexes are above Google Trends’ thresholds are: [1] Americas: Canada, US, Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, [2] Europe: UK, Germany [3] Elsewhere: Nigeria, India, Philippines, China (Google data not representative for China). Surprisingly some countries (e.g. those with FTT trainings—NZ, Indonesia, etc) are not on this list.
28. These observations are based upon analysing Google Trends for individual countries, rather than world-wide (global) results. The data thresholds imposed by Google Trends [indicated by “insufficient data”] appear lower for individual countries than what is displayed for various countries (in maps) when the data is analysed on a global basis. Due to these data thresholds Google Trends does not indicate the presence of Google searches for countries (cities, etc) where the search level is low. We don’t interpret this latter phenomenon as indicating the total absence of searches for LSM, W. Nee &/or W. Lee. Rather, we interpret it as representing only a “token presence” or “token level of interest.”
29. If we add “Recovery Version (book)” as a search term [Figure not displayed here], its global search frequency equals that of ‘W. Lee,’ even exceeding it for the last 5-years (2012-2016).
30. Relative to the top-ranked city -- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (100%), Accra, Ghana (89%) & Lagos, Nigeria (75%), other cities registered include Nairobi, Kenya (30%), Singapore (13%); No city in the Americas registers over 10%.
31. This last statement based upon extending the data into Jan. 2017. Data for W. Lee searches by city is not available at this global level. (A fact that is indicative of a low level of search interest relative to Google Trends thresholds.)
32. Our previous study--“Signs of Decline in LSM’s ‘Recovery’”--found a similar pattern “Globally the top source of searches for “Witness Lee” is the US followed by Brazil (90% of the US figure) and UK (half the US figure). The metro-areas of LA, New York & London (UK) are the top 3 cities ranked by search origin.” It appears that Google has raised the data threshold required to report by city in 2016; so corresponding figures through 2016 aren’t available.
33. In Nigeria the relative ranking is “Watchman Nee” (15); ‘LSM’ (4); “Witness Lee” (1). W. Lee only just registers on Google’s ‘radar.’ ‘W. Nee’ searches are triple the sum of ‘LSM’ plus ‘W. Lee.’ Looking at Nigeria’s urban centers, W. Lee’ only registers for Lagos (at ~10% of W. Nee), whole ‘W. Nee’ registers both for Lagos & the Federal Capital Territory/ Abija. Looking at the African continent, only in South Africa does LSM’s presence register significantly; the relative rank there is: ‘LSM’ (14); “Watchman Nee” (8); “Witness Lee” (0)
34. Obviously the total population of Japan is not small, however the Christian population of Japan is small (2.3%). One might expect ‘W. Lee’ to ‘out poll’ ‘W. Nee’ in the Philippines given Witness Lee’s history of laboring there. However, this is not the case with these data. The 3 indicators’ relative importance is: LSM (17); W. Nee (11); W. Lee (8). Thus W. Nee’s level of search interest is 65% of LSM, and W. Lee is about ½ (47%) of LSM. Witness Lee’s search interest is about ¾ (73%) of Watchman Nee in this time period.
35. Note also that this same location-- Da’an District (Taipei, Taiwan)--emerges for Google searches of “Recovery Version (book);” For this search term, if top-ranked Taiwan is scored at 100%, the US is 6% on this metric. When sorted by global city, Da’an District (Taipei, Taiwan) ranks 100 & LA (US) 14% for Google searches of “Recovery Version (book)”
36. If we take a closer look at Latvia, at the country level, 3 Latvian locations of LSM-searches emerge—Riga (75%); Jelgava (100%) & Liepajas Pilseta (49%) on Latvia’s west coast. Note: Examined at a finer-level, Jelgava emerges top-ranked.
37. Neither “Watchman Nee” nor “Witness Lee” register above Google Trends’ thresholds for Latvia.
38. Searches for ‘LSM’ by country: Latvia (100%), Rest of the world, combined (67%). In Google searches sorted by global city: searches linked to Riga, Latvia equal about 90% of searches from all other global cities combined. Both these statistics imply a huge proportion of LSM’s Internet resources allocated to Riga, Latvia.
39. The website of “The Local Church in Riga, Latvia,” https://churcinriga.wordpress.com/author/jurisbergs/ contains an item: "’The Collector of Biblical Books’ –[is] a non-profit organization, whose main objective - the publication of the ministry of Watchman Nee and Witness Lee in Russian. Following in the footsteps of these two servants of the Lord Jesus Christ, who faithfully kept serving legacy received the church of the Lord, we see it as our goal is to spread the riches of Christ, supplying all believers with spiritual food that will give them the growth in the divine life for the sake of building up the Body of Christ.” [Translated from Russian to English] http://kbk.ru/
40. For the country of Ukraine for the whole period (2004-2016) ‘LSM’ searches exceed ‘W. Nee’ by a ratio 5:2. However, during the last 5 years (2012-2016) Internet searches for ‘W. Nee’ exceed those for ‘LSM.’ [‘W. Nee’ (10); ‘LSM’ (7)]
41. WA ranks second (~90%) only to CA (100%) in LSM searches for the US.
42. Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” JANATE, Vol. 2, no. 1 (2016) p. 97
43. The fact that “Titus Chu” is entered as a Google search term (rather than topic) probably leads to an underestimation of Google searches since it excludes Google searches based upon Titus Chu’s Chinese name. (Google Trends does not offer the option of “Titus Chu” as a search topic, which would include searches in Chinese.) In contrast “W. Nee” & “W. Lee” are included as Google “search topics.” With the current data this appears to be the best we can do. [The inclusion of “Witness Nee” in Fig. 4 is a simple means to generate the “Titus Chu” graph in purple (rather than green, for Yu-Lan Dong in Fig. 5)] It might be relevant to point out also that since 2007 a major portion of Titus Chu’s work has been conducted in mainland China. Evidently he feels the response to his ministry is greater there than elsewhere (North America, Taiwan, etc). Worldwide results (equivalent to Fig. 4) are essentially the same as Fig. 4 (scaled down). Titus Chu does not register on Google Trends for Canada, Ghana, or Taiwan (areas with past links to T. Chu.)
44. These results appear plausible. Obviously Watchman nee had no involvement in LSM’s quarantine. LSM’s “blended brothers” repeatedly appealed to W. Lee’s 1986 “One Publication” policy decree to justify their own (Summer 2005) “one publication” policy decree aimed at Titus Chu & Yu-Lan Dong. As W. Lee’s presumptive successors LSM’s “blended brothers” adopted the stance—“whatever W. Lee did, we can now do.” They also quoted (in their ITERO denunciation meeting-- Whistler, BC, in Oct. 2006) Witness Lee’s private criticisms of Titus Chu, thus implicating W. Lee in their actions. Moreover LSM’s “blended brothers” extensive speaking, & publications (in print & on the Internet) against Titus Chu & the GLA churches quote Witness Lee extensively. In our view, it is not surprising therefore that “Witness Lee’s brand” was damaged as a result of LSM’s campaign against T. Chu & Yu-Lan Dong of Brazil (see below).
45. That conflict involved LSM’s ‘blended brothers’ quarantine [excommunication] of Yu-Lan Dong (along with Titus Chu of the Great Lakes area) in late 2006. This was followed by the revocation of the right of Editora Árvore da Vida to translate W. Nee & W. Lee’s writings into Portuguese. LSM Portuguese reported that: “For many years Editora Árvore da Vida (EAdV) had permission from Living Stream Ministry (LSM) to translate, print, & distribute the ministry materials of Brothers Watchman Nee & Witness Lee as published by LSM. ...On December 21, 2009, LSM sent the letter below revoking these permissions to the brothers who oversee EAdV.” [http://www.lsmportugues.org/eadv-en.html}
46. We can’t use “Arvore da Vida” [Tree of Life] the title of Yu-Lan Dong’s periodical because “Tree of Life” [Arvore da Vida in Portuguese] is the title of a 2011 epic, Academy Award-nominated, film starring Brad Pitt & Sean Penn. A Google search confounds Dong’s publication with the Portuguese version of this film. It is likely that the Google search term, “Editora Árvore da Vida” underestimates searches related to Yu-Lan Dong’s institutions in Brazil (e.g. it does not include his publication “Alimento Diario [Daily Food],” roughly equivalent to LSM’s HWMR.
47. We use the term “predatory” in a social science sense. The manner in which a business organization seeks to monopolize a certain market (excluding competitors by various means) in order to reap economic profits can be described as “predatory economic behavior.” So, W. Lee’s “one publication” policy (of 1986) sought to exclude other ministers/writers from distributing their publications among the Local Churches (e.g. Bill Freeman of Seattle, WA), thereby creating a “monopoly” for his own publications, can equally be described as “predatory behavior.” The same applies to the 2005/6 application of the “one publication” policy to prohibit T. Chu, Y-L Dong & others from publishing books, articles, etc., by LSM’s “blended brothers.” There is no Scriptural precedent for such a self-swerving policy.
48. We refer to the 2 published papers referred to above: [1] Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” Journal of Asian/North American Theological Educators (JANATE) Vol. 2, #1 (2016) [2] Yi Liu, “Globalization of Chinese Christianity: A Study of Watchman Nee & Witness Lee’s Ministry,” Asia Journal of Theology, Vol. 30(1) (April, 2016). Note Prof. Paul H. B. Chang’s use of the term “success” in the following quotes: “Witness Lee & his teachings are not going away. Since his death, Lee’s followers have continued to propagate & practice his theology. They have now established local congregations in every state in the U.S., and may now have more active members than any other Christian group on the Taiwanese island. Lee and his teachings have raised up indigenous leaders and congregations in many different countries, making him rather unique in Chinese Christianity and even among Chinese religious leaders more generally. And finally, the institution referred to at the beginning of this essay, the Living Stream Bible Truth & Church Service Training, commonly known as the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA), is [a] almost completely unknown, despite its remarkable success.” [Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” JANATE, Vol. 2, #1 (2016) p. 97] “Part of the success of the FTTA is due to its extensive integration into a larger network of churches...the success of the FTTA is also due to the fact that it is not meant to produce professional clergy.” [Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” JANATE, Vol. 2, #1 (2016) pp. 98-99]
49. W. Nee, Messages for Building up New Believers, Vol. 3, Ch. 11, Sect. 7. Prof. Paul Chang notes that Witness “Lee argued that ‘Actually, according to God’s New Testament economy, there should not be any organization in the church. The church is not an organization but an organism.’ He went on to explain his understanding of the difference...: ‘An organism is an entity entirely of life. Nothing in our body is produced by organization. In contrast, in an organization nothing is living; every piece is dead. Everything in an organization is a human work arranged by human hands’.” [Witness Lee, Crucial Principles for the Christian Life & the Church Life, pp. 72-73 quoted by Paul H. B. Chang, “Multiple Invisibilities of Witness Lee,” JANATE, Vol. 2, no. 1 (2016) p. 95]
50. Stated differently “Ockham’s (or Occum’s) razor” is the principle that "when you have two competing theories [explanations] that make exactly the same predictions, the simpler one is the better." http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/physic...ral/occam.html
51. For more on this, see my article “WWBLD—What Would Brother Lee Do? LSM’s Modus Operandi” posted on www.LocalChurchDiscussions.com
52. The last incident of creativity with regards to hymns & songs within the “Lord’s Recovery” that this author can recall is a set of songs from Howard Higashi & others of the Church in Long Beach, CA during the 1980s. The “Long Beach Song Tapes” were widely circulated among N. America’s local churches. That endeavor was terminated in 1986 ITERO when W. Lee instituted his “one publication” policy. Two of the Long Beach elders—Dick Taylor & Howard Higashi—publically apologized for the “Long Beach Song Tapes.” Evidently nothing, not even some innocuous Song Tapes, was allowed to “compete” with Witness Lee’s ministry. Since then musical creativity has been stifled among LSM churches.
53. W. Lee, Guidelines for the Propagation of the Lord's Recovery, Ch. 1, St. 4
54. LSM’s English publications refer to “Islam” about 85 times, “Muslim” about 70 times, the “Koran” less than 40 times & Mohammad 35 times—a very small number of citations given LSM’s voluminous publications. The term “jihad” never appears in LSM’s publications.
55. Watchman Nee writes as if homosexuality does not exist. He says, “The stimulation one receives from the same sex is much less compared to that from the opposite sex...[So] people of the opposite sex are more approachable than those of the same sex. This kind of inclination is common, natural, and inherent.” [W. Nee, Collected Works, Vol. 13, Ch. 13, Sect. 4] The first sentence defines heterosexual attraction; homosexuality (the converse of this statement) is not even considered. We emphasize this to high-light the fact that this issue was simply ‘not on the agenda’ when W. Nee wrote.
56. The piece, ascribed to W. Nee, says: “David served in one generation [Acts 13:36], his own. He could not serve in two! Where today we seek to perpetuate our work by setting up an organization or society or system, the Old Testament saints served their own day and passed on. This is an important principle of life. Wheat is sown, grows, ears, is reaped, and then the whole plant, even to the root, is plowed out. God's work is spiritual to the point of having no earthly roots, no smell of earth on it at all. Men pass on, but the Lord remains. Everything to do with the Church must be up-to-date and living, meeting the present--one could never even say the passing--needs of the hour. Never must it become fixed, earth-bound static. God Himself takes away His workers, but He gives others. Our work suffers, but His never does. Nothing touches Him. He is still God.” [Watchman Nee, "A Table in the Wilderness," Dec. 31]
__________________
Now Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24)
UntoHim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 10:24 AM   #2
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
“A person receives much grace and blessing from the Lord...After his generation passes away, the second generation remains somewhat good. But...men...say, ‘...We should form an organization to carry on and maintain this grace.’ By the second or third generation, organization comes in...They believe that God is the Giver of grace, but they do not believe that God is also the Preserver of grace...As a result, human... ways and means are introduced in an effort to maintain the blessing...This cycle repeats itself: blessing in the first generation, organization in the 2nd generation, and degradation in the 3rd generation.”—W. Nee
Those who refuse to learn from history (in this case Lee not learning from Nee) are doomed to repeat it.

I remember a comment a former co-worker in Cleveland (CD) once told me -- "No Christian group in history has enjoyed the Lord's blessing more than 25 years."
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 10:30 AM   #3
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
LSM’s Globalization of Chinese Christianity
Two decades have elapsed since W. Lee’s passing; what has been produced? Prof. Paul Chang chronicles LSM’s success story, “Since his death, Lee’s followers have continued to propagate & practice his theology. They have now established local congregations in every state in the U.S...Lee and his teachings have raised up indigenous leaders and congregations in many different countries, making him rather unique in Chinese Christianity...And finally, the institution...the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA), is [a]...remarkable success.”
I remember the great boasts the Blendeds provided after Lee's death -- the recovery spreading around the globe, blessed by the Head of the body.

Since then LSM has cut off all association with the "Shouters" in mainland China, excommunicated all of Brazil, and attempted to dismantle nearly every GLA LC.

And their surrogates are claiming success? I would like to see accurate statistics on the FTT grads.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 11:40 AM   #4
OBW
Member
 
OBW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: DFW area
Posts: 3,931
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Watchman Nee saw this pattern in Protestant Christianity and identified its fatal flaw. We ought to ask --Has the Local Church movement (aka the “Lord’s Recovery”) avoided this pitfall?
Maybe the more important question is to first determine if it is the right question.

Is organization simply a fatal flaw?

Is the fact that there is the perception of "decline" more of an observation in the fact that the natural human exuberance surrounding events, such as realization of something new, is not a forever thing. That does not mean that the realization is in decline, but that we now understand it as true rather than have the realization that we learned something new.

I will admit that it is quite possible to enshrine history and worship that rather than what it brought us. Or to revere the "great truths" that we can no longer enumerate.

But as a trends go, there is evidence that Christianity is in decline. At least in terms of percentage of the rapidly-growing whole. But it also appears that older groups are declining to the benefit of new groups. The uptick at the start of a new movement is that "new" attracts people while the older it is, the more the people who simply want something new (whether that is really important) are susceptible to jumping ship for the next new thing.

We want the spiritual equivalent of new love every day of our lives. But no matter what verbiage is used for it, love is not simply like "new love." And new love is not always the most stable or abiding love. We have grown accustomed to understanding love like it is portrayed in movies. It is extreme then it "goes away." (I was thinking of a scene in Willow, but probably not enough know the movie.)

Not really. We just don't know how to deal with everyday love of the kind that the Bible is full of. The kind that brings loyalty rather than poetry. The kind that causes us to go out and obey, not just follow around with our mouth hanging open.

Not saying there never is poetry, or awe, or other times of exuberance. But if that is what we seek, then we will never be happy anywhere for very long — unless they manage to manufacture the feelings over and over with less and less really worth being so upbeat about.

I know it sounds like I put in a gripe at the beginning of too many of Nigel's essays. Don't get me wrong. I think he is doing a great service to the state of things in the LRC. But sometimes I wonder how much he, and we, tend to live as if we are trying to prove to ourselves that we really should have been involved in that group all those years ago. For me, it doesn't matter. I am not there now and have no desire to return.

No, no, no, no, no, I'll never go back anymore.
__________________
Mike
I once thought I was. . . . but I may have been mistaken — Edge (with apologies)
OBW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 12:50 PM   #5
Terry
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Renton, Washington
Posts: 3,158
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Those who refuse to learn from history (in this case Lee not learning from Nee) are doomed to repeat it.

I remember a comment a former co-worker in Cleveland (CD) once told me -- "No Christian group in history has enjoyed the Lord's blessing more than 25 years."
For the North American local churches, the 25 years would place it at 1987. Although in my opinion, the blessing ended by 1973 with Daystar.
__________________
"Even a neutral has a right to take account of facts, even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or close his conscience."- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Terry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 03:53 PM   #6
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
This cycle repeats itself: blessing in the first generation, organization in the 2nd generation, and degradation in the 3rd generation.”—W. Nee1

Watchman Nee saw this pattern in Protestant Christianity and identified its fatal flaw.
No, there is nothing wrong with having organization. You can be full of life and spontaneity and also have organization. They are not mutually exclusive.

The issue is not whether you have organization or not. The issue is whether you are obedient to God. Organization is tool just like anything else. Some organizational models are beneficial, and some are detrimental. The unquestioned dictatorship organizational model the LCM operates under is quite detrimental.

"Organization" is just another LCM boogy-man.
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 04:26 PM   #7
Koinonia
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 529
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

I disagree with this. The word "organization" may be an LSM boogy-man (like "opinion" and other words), but the concept has merit. According to John 3:8, those born of the Spirit are like the wind. In my experience, a lot of manmade apparatus just boxes people in and makes predeterminations about what the activity of the Spirit should and should not look like.
Koinonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 04:26 PM   #8
Freedom
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,428
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
Maybe the more important question is to first determine if it is the right question.

Is organization simply a fatal flaw?

Is the fact that there is the perception of "decline" more of an observation in the fact that the natural human exuberance surrounding events, such as realization of something new, is not a forever thing. That does not mean that the realization is in decline, but that we now understand it as true rather than have the realization that we learned something new.
I agree about the issue not being organization. For the LCM to have followed a 'pattern' that Nee warned about is more a matter of irony than anything else. As I see it, the true "fatal flaw" of the LCM (besides their ever-willingness to blindly embrace extremes) is something Nigel mentions later on in his paper, that is, the canonization of Lee. They have eliminated the ability introduce anything new, any kind of considerable change, and also make it perfectly clear that nothing can be thrown out. Additionally, only practices which WL endorsed are accepted.

So the LCM finds itself in a state lacking any ability to adapt, at a time when change is so desperately needed. How can a group reasonably expect to survive in such a state? Obviously, this is something the LCM can’t come to terms with. They blame their condition and decline on things like 'opposition'. From their point of view, they mainly rest their hopes in the notion that someday people at large will begin to discover WL's supposed 'storehouse' in the midst of the ‘famine’. In their minds, this hypothetical scenario makes up for whatever lack of success they face at present.

I find it hard to really qualify how 'beneficial' WL's ministry actually was, and I think the answer is different for everyone. There are things I thought were useful, which I later decided were toxic, and there are also things that still think were probably were helpful. Needless to say, twenty years after WL's death, given there hasn't been a substantial interest in WL’s ministry outside the LCM, I think it’s fair to say that the case is closed. Whatever true benefit there was has already been seen, and whatever it is that was in WL's 'storehouse' has definitely gone stale by now.
__________________
Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
Freedom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 05:48 PM   #9
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
No, there is nothing wrong with having organization. You can be full of life and spontaneity and also have organization. They are not mutually exclusive.

The issue is not whether you have organization or not. The issue is whether you are obedient to God. Organization is tool just like anything else. Some organizational models are beneficial, and some are detrimental. The unquestioned dictatorship organizational model the LCM operates under is quite detrimental.

"Organization" is just another LCM boogy-man.
I agree with this completely.

Looking at both Brethren and Recovery history, it was never organization which caused the loss of blessing, neither was it persecution from outsiders. Rather it was the works of the flesh manifested as immorality, abuse, back-biting, power struggles, lording it over the saints, violating scriptural truths, playing god with the saints' lives, etc.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 05:58 PM   #10
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
I disagree with this. The word "organization" may be an LSM boogy-man (like "opinion" and other words), but the concept has merit. According to John 3:8, those born of the Spirit are like the wind. In my experience, a lot of manmade apparatus just boxes people in and makes predeterminations about what the activity of the Spirit should and should not look like.
Paul "organized" the churches under the leadership of elders and deacons (and deaconesses). John gave specific instruction to older men, young men, and children in Christ. Organization in itself never frustrated the Spirit. But we must differentiate between good and bad leaders.

It is very much like saying that parents are bad for families. God has ordained "organization" for every family. Good parents do not stifle the children's gifts, rather coach them and help their talents grow. Just because bad parents too often exist, doesn't make family organization a bad thing.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 06:03 PM   #11
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Great points Freedom.

One only has to look at the Exclusive Brethren, who long ago canonized John Darby, to see how the Spirit of God has become straightjacketed in the movement.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 06:14 PM   #12
Koinonia
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 529
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Organization in itself never frustrated the Spirit.
I respect everyone's viewpoints and do agree that organization is not the only problem, but I do not agree with this. Religion is full of stale forms and sacred cows that place parameters on the Christian experience with the justification that "there is nothing wrong with it."
Koinonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 06:20 PM   #13
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
I respect everyone's viewpoints and do agree that organization is not the only problem, but I do not agree with this. Religion is full of stale forms and sacred cows that place parameters on the Christian experience with the justification that "there is nothing wrong with it."
Well, make your case, I for one am listening.

After my last post, I tried to think of scripture which warns us of organization. Can you think of some?

Let me explain my views. I lived through the anti-religion, anti-organization, anti-eldership, anti-forms, anti-traditions movement in the LC's back in the mid-70's. It produced nothing positive. It bred only the works of the flesh, manifested in rebellion, disrespect, and fleshly challenges to older saints in Christ. I bought into the whole program because it fit my personality at the time. Today I am a firm believer that people, young and old, thrive in structured environments. There has to be some sort of organization.

Koinonia, what does "organization" mean to you? Give it a little description, so at least we are working with the same dictionary here. You said, "Religion is full of stale forms and sacred cows." Do you see organization the same as religion? I also used to consider religion as evil, based on Lee's ministry, whereas now it is neutral in connotation to me.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.

Last edited by Ohio; 02-21-2017 at 07:49 PM.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 08:07 PM   #14
Freedom
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,428
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Great points.

One only has to look at the Exclusive Brethren, who long ago canonized John Darby, to see how the Spirit of God has become straightjacketed in the movement.
The LCM's appreciation and uplifting of Lee is linked to the notion that his ministry had so many 'riches'. I guess it's not surprising that they attempted to 'preserve' this for generations to come, but they really only succeeded in joining the multitudes of other groups who attempted to preserve the legacy of their respective leaders.
__________________
Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
Freedom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 08:19 PM   #15
Drake
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 1,199
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Tomes) "Global Results
Figure 1 (below) gives global results for Google search topics “Living Stream Ministry (non-profit corp.),” (in blue) “Watchman Nee” (red) & “Witness Lee” (yellow) for the 13-year period, Jan. 1, 2004 to Dec. 31, 2016"

Oh my.

There could be many explanations for Google Trends trends other than the one that Nigel Tomes offers. But then, so what?

Yet for the moment lets humor Nigel. Let's say he is right. Let's pretend that Google Trends is the definitive statement. Let's act like GT is really important and that it suggests what Tomes says it does.....

I Google Trended "Nigel Tomes" and got this response:

"Hmm, your search doesn't have enough data to show here"



Now, why should anyone care what Tomes thinks given he is not even a blip on Google Trends? As far as Google Trends is concerned Nigel Tomes is nonexistent.

On the other hand I Google Trended "Drake"... Wowie zowie am I popular or what!!

Drake
Drake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 08:26 PM   #16
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drake View Post
Tomes) "Global Results
Figure 1 (below) gives global results for Google search topics “Living Stream Ministry (non-profit corp.),” (in blue) “Watchman Nee” (red) & “Witness Lee” (yellow) for the 13-year period, Jan. 1, 2004 to Dec. 31, 2016"

Oh my.

There could be many explanations for Google Trends trends other than the one that Nigel Tomes offers. But then, so what?

Yet for the moment lets humor Nigel. Let's say he is right. Let's pretend that Google Trends is the definitive statement. Let's act like GT is really important and that it suggests what Tomes says it does.....

I Google Trended "Nigel Tomes" and got this response:

"Hmm, your search doesn't have enough data to show here"



Now, why should anyone care what Tomes thinks given he is not even a blip on Google Trends? As far as Google Trends is concerned Nigel Tomes is nonexistent.

On the other hand I Google Trended "Drake"... Wowie zowie am I popular or what!!

Drake
If he looks like a drake, talks like a drake, walks like a drake, then ...
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 08:37 PM   #17
Freedom
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,428
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drake View Post
Now, why should anyone care what Tomes thinks given he is not even a blip on Google Trends? As far as Google Trends is concerned Nigel Tomes is nonexistent.

On the other hand I Google Trended "Drake"... Wowie zowie am I popular or what!!

Drake
I remember there being discussion about the Google trends the last time that Nigel made reference to it. I don't think everyone here was on board with him using those numbers.

But that aside, the burden of proof lies with those making the claim that the LCM is a globalized movement.

I think he makes his case much better with statements like this:
The grand total for the whole continent of Africa is 2,500 Local Church members! Global data indicate there are 487M Christians in Africa.16 So, in Africa, LSM’s Local Church members represent one-in-every-200,000 Christian believers. Africa has ¼ of the world’s Christians & the highest Christian growth rate among continents. Can we really claim that LSM’s Local Church, with a microscopic share, a token presence in a handful of African countries, has a “global representation”?

That is a point he has made worthy of response. What evidence is there to suggest that the LC is a truly globalized movement? Having churches on every content means nothing when the mostly exist unbeknownst to the outside world.
__________________
Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
Freedom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 08:44 PM   #18
UntoHim
Grateful Servant
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,296
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Last time I checked, Nigel Tomes wasn't saying he was the only person on earth speaking as God's oracle since 1945. Last time I checked none of the people around him have ever called him the one minister with the one ministry for the age. Last time I checked he wasn't under oath saying that he is not to be considered an apostle, and then had his minions demand that everyone consider him "an apostle of the first kind". (aka: "Super-Apostle") Last time I checked....

Witness Lee and his followers have claimed some pretty big things about the man. Of course Drake claims that he "doesn't recognize" this Local Church of Witness Lee...but DeNile ain't just a river in Egypt.
...and you can Google that one too....
-
__________________
Now Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24)
UntoHim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2017, 09:02 PM   #19
Koinonia
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 529
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Well, make your case, I for one am listening.

After my last post, I tried to think of scripture which warns us of organization. Can you think of some?

Let me explain my views. I lived through the anti-religion, anti-organization, anti-eldership, anti-forms, anti-traditions movement in the LC's back in the mid-70's. It produced nothing positive. It bred only the works of the flesh, manifested in rebellion, disrespect, and fleshly challenges to older saints in Christ. I bought into the whole program because it fit my personality at the time. Today I am a firm believer that people, young and old, thrive in structured environments. There has to be some sort of organization.

Koinonia, what does "organization" mean to you? Give it a little description, so at least we are working with the same dictionary here. You said, "Religion is full of stale forms and sacred cows." Do you see organization the same as religion? I also used to consider religion as evil, based on Lee's ministry, whereas now it is neutral in connotation to me.
Let me try it this way...

Earlier in the month, OBW made a post in which he said the following:

Quote:
For sure try to quickly get over things like:
  • sitting in pews
  • having a band leading the singing in worship
  • joining the choir (or the band) (I do both in two different types of service)
  • having communion with little separate cups (or dipping a wafer in a bowl of juice/wine) (and even calling it "communion")
  • "going to church"
  • praying for "low" things like the health of Aunt Susie or your own need of a job or reduction in back pain
  • tacking "in Jesus name" on the end of prayers
  • doing responsive readings in a meeting or reciting a creed
The list goes on an on.

Be willing to talk with the pastor or another leader about problems you are having.
But why would I, for example, want to be satisfied with any of this (not meaning to take issue with every single item on that list)?

The attitude that says, "This is good enough" or "This is the best there is" is the same attitude that keeps people in the LC! Witness Lee added layer upon layer upon layer of custom/tradition/form/practice/interpretation/obligation to the simple Bible-based paradigms like "grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone" and having a "one another" life. So, why would I want to leave his version of "organization" and "religion" just to immerse myself in someone else's?

Now I see the Christian life simply as "Christ in you" and church life simply as "love one another." So, I guess by "organization" and "religion," I mean the whole monstrous apparatus of associations and denominations and conferences and 501c3s and pastors and theology schools and schedules and meetings and services and offerings and tithes and pews and bands, etc., etc., etc. Not all of it is evil, but all of it is extra.
Koinonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2017, 02:03 AM   #20
Drake
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 1,199
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

UntoHim)"DeNile ain't just a river in Egypt."

Clever. That is what they said every time Pharoah took a dip in the river. "He is in DeNile".

Yet, I prefer Keith Green's satirical "He is DeVine, and you are DeBranch".

But I DeGress.

Look, you get a downward trend result if you Google Trend "Jesus Christ", or "Baptist", or "Christian" or "Theology". Therefore, perhaps Brothers Nee and Lee are in good company. Or perhaps Google Trend doesn't indicate what Tomes says it does. Maybe Tomes is grasping at straws and misapplied the GT data to fit his narrative.

Maybe all of DeAbove.



Drake
Drake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2017, 06:57 AM   #21
UntoHim
Grateful Servant
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,296
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Here is the bottom line - and the main thrust of Nigel's thesis:

Quote:
Witness Lee claimed his ministry was ‘Joseph’s storehouse’ in the midst of Christianity’s ‘famine.’ Our analysis belies this myth. We find no evidence of a huge pent-up demand among ‘starving Christians’ for W. Lee’s teachings. Only in two Asian countries, both with small Christian populations—Taiwan & Japan—do we find interest in ‘W. Lee’ surpassing that of ‘W. Nee.’ Elsewhere, despite LSM’s concerted efforts to promote his ministry, search interest in Witness Lee falls far short of Watchman Nee, both in volume and global reach. Without established his own institution to perpetuate his legacy, W. Nee still achieves a level of influence far greater than W. Lee. Conversely, despite establishing the LSM Corporation as his continuation, Witness Lee’s influence is substantially less than W. Nee—‘W. Lee’ searches are only 30% of ‘W. Nee,’ globally and in the US.
__________________
Now Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24)
UntoHim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2017, 09:35 AM   #22
OBW
Member
 
OBW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: DFW area
Posts: 3,931
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

In another thread, I posted the following:
Quote:
For sure try to quickly get over things like:
  • sitting in pews
  • having a band leading the singing in worship
  • joining the choir (or the band) (I do both in two different types of service)
  • having communion with little separate cups (or dipping a wafer in a bowl of juice/wine) (and even calling it "communion")
  • "going to church"
  • praying for "low" things like the health of Aunt Susie or your own need of a job or reduction in back pain
  • tacking "in Jesus name" on the end of prayers
  • doing responsive readings in a meeting or reciting a creed
The list goes on an on.

Be willing to talk with the pastor or another leader about problems you are having.
To which Koinonia has moved to this thread and replied . . .
Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
But why would I, for example, want to be satisfied with any of this (not meaning to take issue with every single item on that list)?

The attitude that says, "This is good enough" or "This is the best there is" is the same attitude that keeps people in the LC! Witness Lee added layer upon layer upon layer of custom/tradition/form/practice/interpretation/obligation to the simple Bible-based paradigms like "grace alone by faith alone in Christ alone" and having a "one another" life. So, why would I want to leave his version of "organization" and "religion" just to immerse myself in someone else's?

Now I see the Christian life simply as "Christ in you" and church life simply as "love one another." So, I guess by "organization" and "religion," I mean the whole monstrous apparatus of associations and denominations and conferences and 501c3s and pastors and theology schools and schedules and meetings and services and offerings and tithes and pews and bands, etc., etc., etc. Not all of it is evil, but all of it is extra.
The point is not about being "satisfied." It is about determining whether there is anything in them that is a matter of being "settled" or "satisfied." Or is it about constantly needing to scratch and itch and something new and/or exciting will always be necessary.

My question to everyone (including everyone in the assembly with which I meet) is "what is our reason for being here?" "Here" meaning in the particular assembly with the particular people following the particular practices and traditions (new or old) what we engage in.

Is our goal is novelty or to have a feeling concerning what we would like to think is the "experience of Christ?" Or is it about learning the truth so that we live the truth? The former is about me. The latter is about Christ.

And in worship:
  • Is our goal to be uplifted? Or to lift up Christ?
  • Are our songs about me? Or about Christ?
  • Does our study lead us to Christ? Or to my blessing?
  • Do I follow Christ? Or Command and manipulate Christ? (I hope none of us are in these places.)
You can think of others. I am not saying that there is nothing of me in worship. I am not saying that songs cannot have any reference to the individual, the sinner, the people, the congregation, etc. But is that the purpose of the time of worship. Or only the purpose of a time within worship?

For my understanding, whether you sit in pew, folding chairs, or nice arena seating is irrelevant. Whether your "table" meeting follows one pattern or another is irrelevant as long as you portray/remember the Lord's death. If you are accompanied by a piano only, or plus an organ, or with one or more other instruments of any nature, or no instruments at all is not truly relevant to any meeting.

It is the heart of the worshipper, not the form of the worship that matters. Anyone that says different is selling something.
__________________
Mike
I once thought I was. . . . but I may have been mistaken — Edge (with apologies)
OBW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2017, 10:29 AM   #23
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
Now I see the Christian life simply as "Christ in you" and church life simply as "love one another." So, I guess by "organization" and "religion," I mean the whole monstrous apparatus of associations and denominations and conferences and 501c3s and pastors and theology schools and schedules and meetings and services and offerings and tithes and pews and bands, etc., etc., etc. Not all of it is evil, but all of it is extra.
Surely I can also relate to this. Remember, I spent my best 30 years in the LC's being "wrecked" for Christianity, so I really don't fit in any congregation any more. Many wife and I have attended numerous churches, looking for the good in each, yet having the same difficulty dealing with all the "extras." Of course, it was all the "extras" that helped us depart from the LC's. I'm still a recovering "judgaholic," and probably always will be one. Perhaps I should start every post with the following, "My name is Ohio, I am a judgaholic. Here is my "Recovery" version to prove it."

Though I never served in the military, often I feel like a Christian "VFW," a veteran of foreign wars, always fighting wars for someone else. I was always defending WL, basically because of all the stupid things he taught, and required us to do. It was not the "good fght." I finally decided to leave during the run up to the GLA quarantines. Both sides tried to enlist me, saying "brother Ohio, you need to stand for the truth, we need your help to 'fight for the truth.'" Eventually, one sister summarized it best, "I see it as two ministries fighting, and it should NOT affect the churches."

Well it did. And the only way to escape was to leave, and to look for greener pastures. And I have found many. But, after dining there awhile, it becomes time to move on, and continue the journey.

So, in a nutshell, I would consider "organization" to be the necessary structure in order to expedite the church's mission. Your definition includes what I would call leaven, vain traditions, etc.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2017, 11:19 AM   #24
Koinonia
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 529
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by OBW View Post
In another thread, I posted the following:
To which Koinonia has moved to this thread and replied . . .
The point is not about being "satisfied." It is about determining whether there is anything in them that is a matter of being "settled" or "satisfied." Or is it about constantly needing to scratch and itch and something new and/or exciting will always be necessary.

My question to everyone (including everyone in the assembly with which I meet) is "what is our reason for being here?" "Here" meaning in the particular assembly with the particular people following the particular practices and traditions (new or old) what we engage in.

Is our goal is novelty or to have a feeling concerning what we would like to think is the "experience of Christ?" Or is it about learning the truth so that we live the truth? The former is about me. The latter is about Christ.

And in worship:
  • Is our goal to be uplifted? Or to lift up Christ?
  • Are our songs about me? Or about Christ?
  • Does our study lead us to Christ? Or to my blessing?
  • Do I follow Christ? Or Command and manipulate Christ? (I hope none of us are in these places.)
You can think of others. I am not saying that there is nothing of me in worship. I am not saying that songs cannot have any reference to the individual, the sinner, the people, the congregation, etc. But is that the purpose of the time of worship. Or only the purpose of a time within worship?

For my understanding, whether you sit in pew, folding chairs, or nice arena seating is irrelevant. Whether your "table" meeting follows one pattern or another is irrelevant as long as you portray/remember the Lord's death. If you are accompanied by a piano only, or plus an organ, or with one or more other instruments of any nature, or no instruments at all is not truly relevant to any meeting.

It is the heart of the worshipper, not the form of the worship that matters. Anyone that says different is selling something.
OBW, I fully agree with this. The Lord looks on the heart, and I want to learn the same. Thank you.
Koinonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2017, 11:20 AM   #25
Koinonia
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 529
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Surely I can also relate to this. Remember, I spent my best 30 years in the LC's being "wrecked" for Christianity, so I really don't fit in any congregation any more. Many wife and I have attended numerous churches, looking for the good in each, yet having the same difficulty dealing with all the "extras." Of course, it was all the "extras" that helped us depart from the LC's. I'm still a recovering "judgaholic," and probably always will be one. Perhaps I should start every post with the following, "My name is Ohio, I am a judgaholic. Here is my "Recovery" version to prove it."

Though I never served in the military, often I feel like a Christian "VFW," a veteran of foreign wars, always fighting wars for someone else. I was always defending WL, basically because of all the stupid things he taught, and required us to do. It was not the "good fght." I finally decided to leave during the run up to the GLA quarantines. Both sides tried to enlist me, saying "brother Ohio, you need to stand for the truth, we need your help to 'fight for the truth.'" Eventually, one sister summarized it best, "I see it as two ministries fighting, and it should NOT affect the churches."

Well it did. And the only way to escape was to leave, and to look for greener pastures. And I have found many. But, after dining there awhile, it becomes time to move on, and continue the journey.

So, in a nutshell, I would consider "organization" to be the necessary structure in order to expedite the church's mission. Your definition includes what I would call leaven, vain traditions, etc.
Brother, I relate to everything you wrote here 100%. Thank you.
Koinonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2017, 01:47 PM   #26
Terry
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Renton, Washington
Posts: 3,158
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Eventually, one sister summarized it best, "I see it as two ministries fighting, and it should NOT affect the churches."
My analogy is to compare the two ministries to that of a political office. They claim to represent the people, but really represent their own agendas.
Much is the same in the NW as possibly all of the west coast. Instead of serving the churches, it's the churches serving the ministry. Sure they may call it "fellowship" or "coordination", but I call it hierarchy. It's the decision making within the hierarchy that determines "the flow".
__________________
"Even a neutral has a right to take account of facts, even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or close his conscience."- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Terry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 02:22 PM   #27
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
I disagree with this. The word "organization" may be an LSM boogy-man (like "opinion" and other words), but the concept has merit. According to John 3:8, those born of the Spirit are like the wind. In my experience, a lot of manmade apparatus just boxes people in and makes predeterminations about what the activity of the Spirit should and should not look like.
I'm sorry but I see no indication in the Bible that organization is by definition a bad thing. God's universe is organized. You might say that the organic is somewhat spontaneous, but it is also organized. And the inert aspect of the universe is by necessity completely dependent upon organization. There are rules to how the universe works. There must be.

Can a human organization stifle the Spirit? Yes. But so can many other things. In the end, however, the problem is never organization or opinion or this or that. The problem is, always and ever, fallen human nature, unrenewed minds.

Complete spontaneity may be an aspect of perfection. Then again, maybe not. We don't know for sure. But it doesn't matter now because we aren't perfect now, and so we need some organization. Attacking organization simply because it is organization is naive.

I'm sure Nee was a bit jealous of the organizational sophistication of the denominations. Lee certainly was. Remember when he praised the Mormons for their preaching campaigns?

And look at the flag ship of the Recovery--the FTT. They are absolutely nothing if not organized. Isn't it hypocritical for the LCM to deride organization and then have the seedbed of their future be so genuflective to organization and structure? The double-mindedness is off the charts. But then, that's the LCM.
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 02:46 PM   #28
Evangelical
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 3,225
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Watchman Nee wrote that church is a "spiritual organization". He was against "human organization" which means "worldly organization". Obviously Lee was not against all types of organization.
Evangelical is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 03:04 PM   #29
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evangelical View Post
Watchman Nee wrote that church is a "spiritual organization". He was against "human organization" which means "worldly organization". Obviously Lee was not against all types of organization.
W. Nee ran the "spiritually organized" church with his own "humanly organized" agency called "The Work."

"Worldly organizations" are defined by the means they use, like exacting money from member churches, demanding all member churches to buy and use their materials, forcing them to sign on to frivolous lawsuits, requiring them all to attend their trainings, mandating their agendas, etc.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 03:13 PM   #30
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Evangelical View Post
Watchman Nee wrote that church is a "spiritual organization". He was against "human organization" which means "worldly organization". Obviously Lee was not against all types of organization.
Right, and they got to define what was "spiritual" and what was "worldly." So the LCM was always "spiritual" and everyone else "worldly," by definition.

What else is new?
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 05:14 PM   #31
Koinonia
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 529
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
I'm sorry but I see no indication in the Bible that organization is by definition a bad thing. God's universe is organized.
The universe is "organized" by God, not man. That is the difference between the universe and religious systems.

Quote:
Isn't it hypocritical for the LCM to deride organization and then have the seedbed of their future be so genuflective to organization and structure? The double-mindedness is off the charts. But then, that's the LCM.
Yes, it is hypocritical. But their hypocrisy is not a justification for anything else.
Koinonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 05:28 PM   #32
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
The universe is "organized" by God, not man. That is the difference between the universe and religious systems.
Yes, it is hypocritical. But their hypocrisy is not a justification for anything else.

Again I see no scriptural basis for saying human organization is necessarily bad. I think it is just an LCM bias that they put into us that we accepted as truth.
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 05:54 PM   #33
Koinonia
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 529
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
Again I see no scriptural basis for saying human organization is necessarily bad. I think it is just an LCM bias that they put into us that we accepted as truth.
All you need to do is ask yourself, what is the church, and then consider everything extra added to that by the genius of man's organization.
Koinonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 06:01 PM   #34
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
Again I see no scriptural basis for saying human organization is necessarily bad. I think it is just an LCM bias that they put into us that we accepted as truth.
But ... Igzy ... if we use Nee's definition in Tomes' article and Koinonia's understanding of "organization," then I can see the dangers and pitfalls of man-made organizations in the church which seem to eventually overlay the truths in scripture.

I view organization kind of like tradition. Apostle Paul did instruct us to hold to certain traditions learned from him (II Thess 2.15), yet traditions over time seem to take on a life all to themselves, and eventually make void the word of God. (Mark 7.13)
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 06:52 PM   #35
Terry
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Renton, Washington
Posts: 3,158
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
Right, and they got to define what was "spiritual" and what was "worldly." So the LCM was always "spiritual" and everyone else "worldly," by definition.

What else is new?
The term I always heard brother Lee use in respect to his ministry is it's not an organization, but an organism.
__________________
"Even a neutral has a right to take account of facts, even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or close his conscience."- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Terry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 07:05 PM   #36
Terry
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: Renton, Washington
Posts: 3,158
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by NigelTomes View Post
Evolution—from Organic to Organizational
Ironically, after ministering for decades on “the organic Body” and insisting that Living Stream Ministry was simply a Levitical service with limited functions, Witness Lee ultimately gave primacy to a human organization---the LSM Corporation. Almost a decade earlier, in July 1988, Witness Lee resolutely declared that:

“The Living Stream Ministry office is only a business office to serve my ministry for two things: to publish the messages in book form and to distribute these messages in both video and audio tapes. That is all the ministry office should do and nothing else...The ministry office has always had this specific function and no other function. This little office is a Levitical service serving my ministry to put out the word of God in print and through video and audio tapes...We do not have any organization. No one can control the local churches. No one can control anything because we do not have organization among us. I do not control, and the Living Stream office would not control.”—Witness Lee4
This quote from Witness Lee, I see it in a different light that the intent Nigel has. Almost like in an Obamaesque way, Witness Lee is speaking positively, but really he's not. Consider the time it as spoken, There were concerned and sincere brothers regarding the actions of LSM co-workers. There's things happening behind the scenes, from an elder's perspective local autnonomy is being undermined. Thus Witness Lee deemphasized LSM's role in speech only.
Which brings me to the question:
Blessing in the first generation. Which years did that cover?
Organization in the second generation. Which years did that cover?
Degradation?
__________________
"Even a neutral has a right to take account of facts, even a neutral cannot be asked to close his mind or close his conscience."- Franklin D. Roosevelt
Terry is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 08:58 PM   #37
UntoHim
Grateful Servant
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,296
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
All you need to do is ask yourself, what is the church, and then consider everything extra added to that by the genius of man's organization.

Wait a second, Koinonia, this sounds like something from your wife....are you holding back on us this time?

Seriously, this kind of statement is what this forum is all about. Wondering out loud, and attempting to answer one of the most profound questions for Christians over the past 2,000 years. "What is the Church?" I agree with Koinonia that "everything extra added to that by the genius of man's organization" is not something fully of God or of God's will.

The problem is that most of what we know as "the Church" (many teachings and practices) has been "added" since those saints gathered on that day of Pentecost, and the Holy Spirit filled them all. If this is to be considered as the first meeting of the Church, then everything that happened after that is suspect to being something "extra added to by the genius of man's organization".

By the time of the departure of the apostle Paul, the Lord Jesus' prophesy of "false prophets coming in sheep's clothing" had already been fulfilled. False prophets, false apostles and various charlatans, along with certain Judaizers, were already taking their toll on the infant Church before the close of the first century. The earliest of apostles: Peter, John and Paul, and the other original apostles, had done their best to warn and inoculate the flock. But it was too late. "The genius of man's organization" already had a death grip, so it seemed, on the infant Bride of Christ. By the dawn of the 2nd century all sorts of forms, traditions and regulations of man had infiltrated the Church.

Fast forward to February 23rd, 2017. Are we any worse off (or better off) than those dear saints to whom the original apostles were writing? In many respects we have more. We have those writings of the apostles in full, and we have the Gospel in full. And yes, we still have the false prophets coming in sheep's clothing. We still have false apostles and various charlatans, maybe even a few Judaizers hanging around. But we have the ultimate weapon of war against them - the Word of God, in full, the Gospel in full and the very same Holy Spirit that fell upon those in the original meeting of the Church on the day of Pentecost.
We've got it made in the shade guys.

-
__________________
Now Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24)
UntoHim is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2017, 09:06 PM   #38
Evangelical
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Posts: 3,225
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
All you need to do is ask yourself, what is the church, and then consider everything extra added to that by the genius of man's organization.
one example is this:

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

"you are all one in Christ Jesus" - that is the church.

Gender distinctions in the church are an addition of man's organization.

However it is a practical necessity to differentiate between men and women in the church. So there is a basic level of "extra added" that we must accept.
Evangelical is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 06:28 AM   #39
OBW
Member
 
OBW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: DFW area
Posts: 3,931
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Terry View Post
Which brings me to the question:
Blessing in the first generation. Which years did that cover?
Organization in the second generation. Which years did that cover?
Degradation?
The problem I have with this whole inquiry is that with respect to the so-called Local Churches in the U.S., does this apply? Or does it apply only to the people who were captured by the second or third pass through this same problem for a group that had seen some of this occur in China, then be repeated in Taiwan, and then again in America.

Never entire generations. Maybe a few years at each level.

But at least in the U.S., was there ever a blessing on the "Local Churches" or only on those who were seeking God who happened to be in that place and had not yet been gathered into the next rendition of Nee's vision which was now "improved" by Lee?

Is there a way to separate what was positive in our personal experiences from what was likely little more than a set-up for the nonsense to come?
__________________
Mike
I once thought I was. . . . but I may have been mistaken — Edge (with apologies)
OBW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 09:43 AM   #40
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
But ... Igzy ... if we use Nee's definition in Tomes' article and Koinonia's understanding of "organization," then I can see the dangers and pitfalls of man-made organizations in the church which seem to eventually overlay the truths in scripture.

I view organization kind of like tradition. Apostle Paul did instruct us to hold to certain traditions learned from him (II Thess 2.15), yet traditions over time seem to take on a life all to themselves, and eventually make void the word of God. (Mark 7.13)
Right. I get that. But "tradition" and "organization" are not the same thing. There may be some overlap, but they are not the same.

Certainly a sclerotic organization is going to be a problem to any freshness, spiritual or secular. But simply indicting "organization" as some kind of evil is painting with too broad a brush. And it's hypocritical, because we all rely on some organization in our lives, no matter how spiritual we are.
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 09:52 AM   #41
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
All you need to do is ask yourself, what is the church, and then consider everything extra added to that by the genius of man's organization.
That's invalid thinking. The church is made up of people. People generally need to organize to do anything productive in a collection fashion. That's just the nature of what we are. It's not a product of the fall. No where does the Bible say that before the fall everything was completely spontaneous with no need for organization.

The fact that people need to organize does not make organization bad any more than the fact that people need to communicate makes communication bad.

Yes, if the organization stifles the Lord's leading then that's a problem. But from my observation it doesn't have to be a problem.
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 10:06 AM   #42
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Imagine you feel led to help an elderly couple in your neighborhood with meals. So spontaneously you prepare a meal and take it over to them. Good for you. The wind blew and you followed it. That's the Church.

Now suppose you feel led to help more elderly people in your area. You realize you need to plan ahead, go shopping ealier and plan the route you will take to deliver the food.

Now you realize you need some help. So you ask your spouse to do the shopping and your kids to help pack up the meals and put them in the car. You have to schedule time, money and effort. Guess what, organization is entering into your spiritual effort.

Now you feel led to expand more, you get more people involved, communication protocols become important, you have to plan more, you have to ensure efforts are efficient and coordinated. More organization is needed.

Finally you realize God is calling you to a full-time feeding ministry. You need office space, supplies, volunteers, fund raising, even employees.

Now you are feeding 100 times more people than when you started. And you have a full-fledged organization. There is no way to do what you feel led to do at the scale you feel led to do it without the organization.

Please tell me. What is wrong with that? And what is the alternative? Are you saying God wants no spiritual effort on the scale that requires an organization?
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.

Last edited by Igzy; 02-24-2017 at 11:05 AM.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 11:20 AM   #43
Koinonia
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 529
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
The church is made up of people.
Exactly.

Quote:
The fact that people need to organize does not make organization bad any more than the fact that people need to communicate makes communication bad.
Yet, just as communication in your example does not equal people, "the church" (which you rightly identify as people) does not equal all of the organization that people invent to characterize/contain/define the church. That's "invalid thinking."
Koinonia is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 11:24 AM   #44
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
Imagine you feel led to help an elderly couple in your neighborhood with meals. So spontaneously you prepare a meal and take it over to them. Good for you. The wind blew and you followed it. That's the Church.

Now suppose you feel led to help more elderly people in your area. You realize you need to plan ahead, go shopping ealier and plan the route you will take to deliver the food.

Now you realize you need some help. So you ask your spouse to do the shopping and your kids to help pack up the meals and put them in the car. You have to schedule time, money and effort. Guess what, organization is entering into your spiritual effort.

Now you feel led to expand more, you get more people involved, communication protocols become important, you have to plan more, you have to ensure efforts are efficient and coordinated. More organization is needed.

Finally you realize God is calling you to a full-time feeding ministry. You need office space, supplies, volunteers, fund raising, even employees.

Now you are feeding 100 times more people than when you started. And you have a full-fledged organization. There is no way to do what you feel led to do at the scale you feel led to do it without the organization.

Please tell me. What is wrong with that? And what is the alternative? Are you saying God wants no spiritual effort on the scale that requires an organization?
Well .. not to belabor the point here, but let's try to understand Koinonia's genuine concerns here, and take your example of feeding the elderly to the "2nd or 3rd generation," as Nee's quote implies.

We arrive on scene late on Saturday afternoon. Couple guys in the phone room are laughing and mocking those who argued with them about donations. Volunteers down in the kitchen just threw rotten veggies in the pot of stew, and all the available drivers just took off for a Lady Gaga concert. A couple long-time volunteers bemoaned the situation, and reminisced the early days serving the community.

Perhaps these two very different stories can help explain our two very different understandings of "organization" on this thread.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 01:40 PM   #45
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ohio View Post
Well .. not to belabor the point here, but let's try to understand Koinonia's genuine concerns here, and take your example of feeding the elderly to the "2nd or 3rd generation," as Nee's quote implies.

We arrive on scene late on Saturday afternoon. Couple guys in the phone room are laughing and mocking those who argued with them about donations. Volunteers down in the kitchen just threw rotten veggies in the pot of stew, and all the available drivers just took off for a Lady Gaga concert. A couple long-time volunteers bemoaned the situation, and reminisced the early days serving the community.

Perhaps these two very different stories can help explain our two very different understandings of "organization" on this thread.
I'm not saying that is not a possible problem. I'm saying that the source of the problem is not the principle of organization. The problem is human nature.

Let me give an analogy. I'm sure you've heard some people say that marriage is a failed and archaic institution. Some think it is ill-conceived and obsolete. Others declare that monogamy is unnatural. I even read one humorist quip that the main cause of divorce is marriage.

So given how bad marriage can go wrong, does that mean marriage is the problem? No, we know marriage is not the problem, marriage is of God. Fallen human nature is the problem

Same with organization. Organization is not the problem. Fallen human nature is.

And fallen human nature can mess up spontaneous, unorganized things as well. Look at the 1960s Church. Even the LC was over-spontaneous. So it cuts both ways.

But it does seem that God needs to "start over" every generation or so. Yes, things tend to entrench, and a new branch in the tree is needed. I got no problem with that. I just have a problem with pointing the finger at "organization." Like I said, What's the alternative?

Many organizations do very good work. The problem with the LC mindset is we looked at every organization out there (besides our own) and assumed they were corrupt in some manner. The Nee and Lee anti-organizational mantra fed this attitude. The point was to discredit everyone else.
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 01:43 PM   #46
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
Exactly.

Yet, just as communication in your example does not equal people, "the church" (which you rightly identify as people) does not equal all of the organization that people invent to characterize/contain/define the church. That's "invalid thinking."
As I asked, given a major task to be done by a collective, tell me how to do it without some organizational structure. Again, are you saying the Church should take on no burdens that require organization?
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 02:37 PM   #47
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
I'm not saying that is not a possible problem. I'm saying that the source of the problem is not the principle of organization. The problem is human nature.

Let me give an analogy. I'm sure you've heard some people say that marriage is a failed and archaic institution. Some think it is ill-conceived and obsolete. Others declare that monogamy is unnatural. I even read one humorist quip that the main cause of divorce is marriage.

So given how bad marriage can go wrong, does that mean marriage is the problem? No, we know marriage is not the problem, marriage is of God. Fallen human nature is the problem

Same with organization. Organization is not the problem. Fallen human nature is.

And fallen human nature can mess up spontaneous, unorganized things as well. Look at the 1960s Church. Even the LC was over-spontaneous. So it cuts both ways.

But it does seem that God needs to "start over" every generation or so. Yes, things tend to entrench, and a new branch in the tree is needed. I got no problem with that. I just have a problem with pointing the finger at "organization." Like I said, What's the alternative?

Many organizations do very good work. The problem with the LC mindset is we looked at every organization out there (besides our own) and assumed they were corrupt in some manner. The Nee and Lee anti-organizational mantra fed this attitude. The point was to discredit everyone else.
I understand and I agree.

We have also had this same discussion about church positions, the elders and pastors, for example. Nee and Lee demonized pastors and all clergy as a root of evil, but they are not the problem, since they are, like marriage, ordained by God.

I agree that the source of the problem is fallen human nature. Like the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics mandates, without direct energy inputs everything just tends to decay over time. And like marriage, our faith regularly needs fresh starts of positive energy and love to remain healthy.

Perhaps another way of looking at this problem is to look at denominational institutionalization. Observing the history of the Plymouth Brethren, the LCM, and other denominations, it was the demands of early leaders to systematize their teachings and practices which directly led to stagnation and decay, now being wrongly identified as "organization."

If we consider the matter of "organization" to be inherently benign in nature, then perhaps institutionalization more accurately characterizes that part of fallen human nature which is in operation here. I would define this simply as all of those mandates passed down from the founders. What I also like about this definition is that it rightly transfers the blame from the successive generation back to the earlier generation.

Koinonia, what do you think?
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 03:03 PM   #48
Igzy
Member
 
Igzy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Texas
Posts: 3,554
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Ohio, I think you nailed it. It's institutionalization that is the problem, not organization.
__________________
Courage is not the absence of fear. It's doing the right thing in the face of fear.
Igzy is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2017, 06:43 PM   #49
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
Ohio, I think you nailed it. It's institutionalization that is the problem, not organization.
We actually see less corruption at LSM since W. Lee & Sons have passed away, yet the strongholds of institutionalism prevent the Blendeds from ever returning to the word of God. Lee's ministry overlay will forever haunt them. Think about it -- Lee sued his opponents, so the Blendeds also must, even though scripture plainly convicts them.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2017, 07:24 AM   #50
OBW
Member
 
OBW's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Location: DFW area
Posts: 3,931
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koinonia View Post
Yet, just as communication in your example does not equal people, "the church" (which you rightly identify as people) does not equal all of the organization that people invent to characterize/contain/define the church. That's "invalid thinking."
The problem with the simplistic approach to organization being the bad boogeyman is that while you say that the organization does not equal the church (whether at the single assembly level or at a larger level), the tendency to dismiss assemblies that are organized just because they are organized is to do just that. It equates a problem with the organization with the church and then dismisses the church.

And one of the outward problems with the church when viewed from an organizational approach is that it is grossly inefficient relative to business organizations. A business is an organization that hires its members and they have tasks for which they are paid. But the church has few true employees. The rest are "employed" through their commitment, or lack thereof, to be engaged in the calling of the church. So there is always inefficiency in the "organization" of the church when viewed from the world's perspective.

That kind of organization needs true servant leaders. But when the leaders are in it for themselves and are lording it over the flock; or have some misguided understanding of how much they are to enforce rules; or have become corrupt or under the influence of those who are corrupt . . . .

Still, it is not the organization or lack thereof. Even if Lee was right that the LRC had no organization, there was a serious problem there that stemmed from the people who were looked to as the leaders of the flock. Including both Lee and his son running the ministry office. And then there was the corruption of the people who would rather slander the best of the LRC leadership than allow them to deal righteously with the problems with the ministry office. And Lee went along with them.

An example from the LRC. And not the only one.

In the grand scheme of things, with or without an "organization," which has had the worst corruption? The LRC or the Southern Baptist General Convention? Despite all of the arguments over various positions, I don't think the SBGC has encountered a sex scandal that was covered up by the top leadership coupled with the published slander of others in leadership that would have dealt with the problem in a righteous manner.

You may not like organization, but it is not the problem for the LRC, nor the savior of the Baptists. It is the nature of the people. And it seems that the ones with the organization (or that admit to having an organization) have the better testimony.
__________________
Mike
I once thought I was. . . . but I may have been mistaken — Edge (with apologies)
OBW is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2017, 12:11 PM   #51
Drake
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Posts: 1,199
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Tomes)"In 1988 he adamantly asserted that “we do not have organization among us.” Yet, ironically, the very next year Witness Lee founded a key component “institution...the Living Stream Bible Truth & Church Service Training, commonly known as the Full-Time Training in Anaheim (FTTA),”

The above, in modern parlance, is "fake news". Just like his made up Google Trends analysis Tomes looks for material to support his narrative and fails to provide other facts that undermine it.

The author falsely sets up a time line to support his narrative (from organic to organization) that LSM went from a small publishing business in 1988 to a large organization a decade later by the time of Brother Lees passing. He cites the interim establishing of FTTA as a proof point.

First, anyone involved in the early ministry of Brother Lee in this country knows the ministry coordinated twice a year Life Study rainings long before 1988. Then no later than 1986 Brother began sharing his plan about the Full-Time Training. The purpose was to evangelize Taiwan. By 1988, when the author cites Brother Lee's comments about "no organization", this obviously was not a statement that LSM would only publish books since the ministry was already doing more than that and would set up and administer the Full Time Training a short time later. Rather, by "no organization" Brother Lee was specifically referring to the administration of the churches.

Tomes' selective presentation of the facts is a bearing of false witness. If not that then he doesn't know what he is talking about. That is possible given his lack of understanding in applying Google Trends data.

Whether malice of forethought or just plain ignorance Tomes undermines his argument and therefore it is not a serious article.

Drake
Drake is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2017, 12:33 PM   #52
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drake View Post
Tomes)Tomes' selective presentation of the facts is a bearing of false witness. If not that then he doesn't know what he is talking about. That is possible given his lack of understanding in applying Google Trends data.

Whether malice of forethought or just plain ignorance Tomes undermines his argument and therefore it is not a serious article.

Drake
Perhaps you should apply the same judgments of "malice of forethought or just plain ignorance" to yourself and LSM. You seem to have missed the bigger picture here. How can anyone take Lee's assertion in 1988 “we do not have organization among us,” seriously?

Drake, your own post seriously discredits Lee, yet you use the opportunity to dis Tomes on a perceived technicality.

Who is the real false "Witness?"
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2017, 03:22 PM   #53
ZNPaaneah
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 5,201
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Freedom View Post
I agree about the issue not being organization. For the LCM to have followed a 'pattern' that Nee warned about is more a matter of irony than anything else. As I see it, the true "fatal flaw" of the LCM (besides their ever-willingness to blindly embrace extremes) is something Nigel mentions later on in his paper, that is, the canonization of Lee. They have eliminated the ability introduce anything new, any kind of considerable change, and also make it perfectly clear that nothing can be thrown out. Additionally, only practices which WL endorsed are accepted.

So the LCM finds itself in a state lacking any ability to adapt, at a time when change is so desperately needed. How can a group reasonably expect to survive in such a state? Obviously, this is something the LCM can’t come to terms with. They blame their condition and decline on things like 'opposition'. From their point of view, they mainly rest their hopes in the notion that someday people at large will begin to discover WL's supposed 'storehouse' in the midst of the ‘famine’. In their minds, this hypothetical scenario makes up for whatever lack of success they face at present.

I find it hard to really qualify how 'beneficial' WL's ministry actually was, and I think the answer is different for everyone. There are things I thought were useful, which I later decided were toxic, and there are also things that still think were probably were helpful. Needless to say, twenty years after WL's death, given there hasn't been a substantial interest in WL’s ministry outside the LCM, I think it’s fair to say that the case is closed. Whatever true benefit there was has already been seen, and whatever it is that was in WL's 'storehouse' has definitely gone stale by now.
I think this hits the nail on the head. Canonization of WL is far more serious than any error he may have made. Hence, the fatal flaw. As a result LCM is unable to adapt, no flexibility, no ability to respond, like an arthritic person. Also I think it is very interesting how little of WL's ministry has been picked up by Christians outside of LCM (unlike WN which was absorbed). This is the real proof of the "globalization". Can anyone find Christians outside of LCM going to WL for the "storehouse". I think it is safe to say no, after all he routinely condemns those outside, this is the "toxic stew" that is mixed into his ministry.
__________________
They shall live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God
ZNPaaneah is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 02-25-2017, 04:34 PM   #54
JJ
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 551
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

I nominate the last post for featured post.
__________________
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14 NASB)
JJ is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2017, 12:00 PM   #55
Freedom
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2014
Posts: 1,428
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by ZNPaaneah View Post
I think this hits the nail on the head. Canonization of WL is far more serious than any error he may have made. Hence, the fatal flaw. As a result LCM is unable to adapt, no flexibility, no ability to respond, like an arthritic person. Also I think it is very interesting how little of WL's ministry has been picked up by Christians outside of LCM (unlike WN which was absorbed). This is the real proof of the "globalization". Can anyone find Christians outside of LCM going to WL for the "storehouse". I think it is safe to say no, after all he routinely condemns those outside, this is the "toxic stew" that is mixed into his ministry.
It's not hard to see the flaws in things taught by WL, and that is probably the most apparent thing about the LC to most people. However, even if all the nonsense were taken away, there is still the question of what makes 20-40 year old recycled messages so special. Additionally, the same type of question arises about LC practices, that is, the question of why such specific practices so important.

If the LCM is unable to reasonably answer these kinds of basic questions, then it is nothing more than a movement fighting for its very survival. Of course there is always the propaganda that supposedly indicates growth within the LCM, but it is fairly apparent that LC membership has remained stagnant.
__________________
Isaiah 43:10 “You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me.
Freedom is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2017, 12:38 PM   #56
Ohio
Member
 
Ohio's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Greater Ohio
Posts: 9,053
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Igzy View Post
Ohio, I think you nailed it. It's institutionalization that is the problem, not organization.
I think institutionalization and canonization together best describe what has occurred in the LC's.

Titus Chu used to place all the blame for this LC phenomena on those brothers surrounding WL, but he never held WL responsible for soliciting their exaltation, and rewarding only those most loyal followers "who sang his praises" to the saints. Over the years TC was definitely more subdued in lavishing praise on WL, and was thus targeted by the Blendeds, yet when push came to shove, TC showed his true loyalty and threw John Ingalls under the bus.

Institutionalization summarizes the demands that WL placed on his followers to exactly replicate his teachings and practices for posterity. This began in the US in early 1974, and was placed in overdrive during the New Way. Brothers who balked at this were excommunicated on false charges, with fabricated "fake news."

Canonization is the reverence instilled in LC members concerning WL that his every word and action was sanctioned by God Himself, and WL himself was extolled as the "acting god" on earth. The prestige he enjoyed was no different than the pope himself, who was also consider the "vicar of Christ."

TC said that he viewed WL as a man, but the Blendeds viewed WL as a god. That said it all.
__________________
Ohio's motto is: With God all things are possible!
.
Keeping all my posts short, quick, living, and to the point!
.
Ohio is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2017, 02:22 PM   #57
UntoHim
Grateful Servant
 
Join Date: Apr 2008
Posts: 2,296
Default Re: The Globalization LSM’s Ministry—Triumph or Tragedy? - NIGEL TOMES

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drake View Post
The author falsely sets up a time line to support his narrative (from organic to organization) that LSM went from a small publishing business in 1988 to a large organization a decade later by the time of Brother Lees passing. He cites the interim establishing of FTTA as a proof point.
-1
Typical unresponsive response by someone trying (in vain of course) to defend the indefensible. Nobody needs to "set up" a time line...time lines are simply a record of history. I know Drake and other Local Church defenders are used to only quoting Witness Lee as a tool to put him in the best possible light, but out here in the real world, outside the echo chamber of the LC Movement, the entire record is laid to bear, and then people can be fully informed and make their judgments accordingly.

Witness Lee's "organic good, organization bad" mantra was a false dichotomy from the very beginning, and the emptiness of this kind of notion was only magnified by the blatant hypocrisy practiced by Lee himself, and by extension his followers. None of us who were actually there, and conscientiously or unconcientiously joined in on the hypocrisy, need Google Trends or any kind of technology to testify of the folly of such teachings, and the damage of the practices that stem from such teachings. When all the dust settles, "organic good, organization bad" get's exposed as nothing more, and nothing less, than the Orwellian characters chant of "Four legs good, two legs bad!" The simple truth was, and is to this day, that whatever Witness Lee called "organic" was to be considered good, and whatever he called "organization" was to be considered bad. The actual real world meaning of these terms was discarded for the redefinition of the one apostle with the one ministry for the age.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Drake View Post
Rather, by "no organization" Brother Lee was specifically referring to the administration of the churches.
Is there some "Local Church alternative universe" you live in that you're not telling us about? Or do you just casually peruse through Tomes' articles and then start swinging wildly at shadows and anything that moves? I would even call it malice of forethought if I could detect that any thought went into the stuff you post in the first place. The "administration" of the Full-Time Training, of "the churches", of "The Ministry", of just about everything, was directed personally by Witness Lee while he was alive. If it came from Lee it was to be considered "organic" - anything else from anybody else, no matter how sensible, no matter how biblical, no matter how spiritual, was to be considered "organization". Remember...always remember...Four legs good, two legs bad!"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drake View Post
Tomes' selective presentation of the facts is a bearing of false witness. If not that then he doesn't know what he is talking about. That is possible given his lack of understanding in applying Google Trends data. Whether malice of forethought or just plain ignorance Tomes undermines his argument and therefore it is not a serious article.
Quote:
Originally Posted by NigelTomes View Post
Evidence from Google Trends 2004-2016
The statistics offered by Dr. Yi Liu are inadequate to substantiate the global triumph of W. Lee’s ministry. A comprehensive analysis of these issues requires extensive data which is not immediately available to us. In the interim we offer some preliminary indications using Internet search data, specifically Google Trends.
One doesn't need to be selective with the facts to come to the conclusion that neither Witness Lee nor his "ministry of the age" have made anything close to the international impact that the Blended brothers or any hired gun would lead us to believe. Furthermore, Nigel Tomes is a longtime professor of economics - he handles figures, facts and statistics for a living, and has plainly stated that he is "offering some preliminary indications". But one does not need a degree in economics to understand that where there's smoke there's fire. And given the Local Church of Witness Lee's long track record of playing fast and loose with facts, figures and statistics, anything they say regarding this matter should be taken with a grain of salt the size of a dump truck.
-
__________________
Now Unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24)
UntoHim is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:14 AM.


3.8.9