THE BOUNDARIESPrint This Page.
How should we designate the boundary line between the meetings in Gordon Lane and Wen-teh Lane? Which brothers and sisters should go to the meeting in Wen-teh Lane? And which brothers and sisters should belong to the meeting in Gordon Lane? The responsible brothers among us who serve as the elders have discussed this and have made the decision to make the Soochow River the boundary line. All the brothers and sisters who reside to the north of the Soochow River should meet in Gordon Lane, and all the brothers and sisters who reside to the south of the Soochow River should meet in Wen-teh Lane. This designation does not mean that the brothers and sisters residing to the north of the Soochow River cannot meet in Wen-teh Lane or that the brothers and sisters residing to the south of the Soochow River cannot meet in Gordon Lane. It means that those residing to the north of the Soochow River should consider the meeting in Gordon Lane their meeting, and they should bear special responsibility and have special care for that meeting. Those who reside to the south of the Soochow River should consider the meeting in Wen-teh Lane their meeting, and they should bear special responsibility and have special care for that meeting. Therefore, we hope that the brothers and sisters residing to the north of the Soochow River will meet separately from the brothers and sisters residing to the south of the Soochow River. We hope that in the future, there will be meetings in the French Concession, Yang-shu-pu, and Kiang-wan also. Then we hope that the ones who are serving as elders will survey the land and decide who should break bread in each place. Presently, we have only two meeting places, and the Soochow River is the boundary. We should conduct our practice in an orderly way according to this principle.
THE BOUNDARY BEYOND THE CITY
As to the boundary line between the city and the suburb of the city, we have not yet delved into this subject. But let us consider Joshua 21:3: “And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of the Lord, these cities and their suburbs.” This verse mentions the city and the suburbs of the city. Deuteronomy 28:3 says, “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.” This verse mentions the city and the field. According to the Old Testament, every city has its suburbs, and every city has its fields. These suburbs and fields surround the city and sustain the city. The vegetables and staples of the city come from the suburbs and fields around it. The city cannot survive by itself. That is why there are four gates at the four sides of the city. The Bible also shows us that each city should bear the responsibility of its suburbs and fields. Therefore, the church in a city should be responsible not only for the city but for its suburbs and fields. Whether it is gospel preaching or any other kind of work, the church in the city should care for the need of the suburbs and fields around the city. The suburbs and the fields are there to support the city and increase the number of those meeting in the city. In other words, those in the church in the city should care for those living in the suburbs of the city. If anyone is saved in the suburbs, he cannot meet in the suburbs but should be brought to the meeting in the city and should support the meeting in the city so that the meeting in the city can become bigger, stronger, more prosperous, and more developed. Among us, there are brothers from Kiang-wan. Kiang-wan is like a suburb. When they come to our meeting, they are supporting the assembly in Shanghai. I am merely giving you an example. At the beginning, the assembly in the city is the center. By the time the number from the suburbs becomes large, these ones have learned to meet. When they are strong enough to set up another meeting, they may become a “home” meeting and may start meeting in the suburbs. Before that, they should come to the city for their meeting and support the meeting in the center.
THE BOUNDARY BETWEENONE ASSEMBLY AND ANOTHER
At times, there are problems between two assemblies concerning their boundaries. Some people may live close to the border of two assemblies. Who should meet in Bao-shan, and who should meet in Kiang-wan? Who should meet in Wen-teh Lane, and who should meet in Gordon Lane? Who should make the decision regarding these things? We should decide according to the principle in Deuteronomy 21:2-3 and 6 concerning the slain. “Then your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities that surround the slain man. And the city that is nearest to the slain man, that is, the elders of that city, shall take a heifer of the herd which has not been worked and has not drawn the yoke....and all the elders of that city that is nearest the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the river valley.” The elders of the city have to come forth to measure and find out which city is closest. The responsibility will then fall on the closest city. Hence, the boundary of the assemblies is very simple. If there are clear political marks, we can mark the boundaries clearly. If there are no clear political boundaries, the elders should measure and decide to which assembly a certain area should belong. In this way, everything will become clear. Those brothers who live close to one assembly should meet with that assembly, and everyone should submit to authority in a proper way.
THE RESTRICTION OF SUBDIVIDING ONE ASSEMBLYINTO TWO LOCAL MEETINGS
When can one assembly be subdivided into two “home” meetings? It must wait until the number becomes large before subdividing into two meetings. Moreover, after the subdivision, both meetings must remain strong. It is better to have a hundred, or at least fifty or seventy-five, in each meeting after the subdivision.
We want to mention the brothers’ request for a meeting in Bao-shan. At present, the brothers in Bao-shan are an outgrowth of the meeting in Gordon Lane. These brothers wrote to the brothers in Gordon Lane and wanted to start another meeting in Bao-shan and break the bread there. What should they do in order to be scriptural? They should not merely realize that it is scriptural for brothers to meet together, but they should make sure that they have the leading of the Holy Spirit and consider the condition of their meeting. They should take care of the meeting in Gordon Lane. First, they have to consider the number meeting in Gordon Lane and see whether that number is becoming too large for everyone to meet together and whether the time is ripe for them to subdivide. If the meeting in Gordon Lane is a weak meeting, a subdivision will further weaken the situation and make it even more difficult to go on. Second, we should not think that we can set up the Lord’s table recklessly just because we want to break bread and remember the Lord in a place. Actually, the minute we set up the Lord’s table in a place, the question of the church immediately comes up, and we have to bear the responsibility of the church. Can these brothers deal with the problem of receiving and excommunicating people? Can they be responsible to take up other burdens? Therefore, we have to pray much concerning this matter before we can have the proper answer.
Suppose it is time for the brothers in Bao-shan to start their meeting. What are the procedures? They should inform the assembly in Shanghai (both the meeting in Wen-teh Lane and the meeting in Gordon Lane) and tell it of their intention to start a meeting. Those brothers who intend to meet in Bao-shan should pray much, and the brothers in Shanghai should also pray much. If in their prayer, both sides feel with one accord that this can be done, the brothers in Bao-shan can then have their own meeting, and they will have the blessing and the laying on of hands of the brothers. This shows that the brothers in Bao-shan have received the approval of all the brothers and are not acting according to their own will. This is like bees multiplying their hives into smaller colonies. This kind of move is done in a happy way because it is done through much prayer and much fellowship with the brothers. This way is the way of the laying on of hands; it is not the way of an independent move. I have to add a few words. Even though we may meet separately in this way, it does not mean that Shanghai does not need a meeting place that is bigger than what it now has. In Shanghai we still need a meeting place that can hold five hundred or more because every year people come to our conferences from everywhere.