Chapter Eight: The Question of Finance
“We dare to make things difficult for God, because He requires no assistance from us in order to perform His miracles.”The Normal Christian Church Life (p. 151)
This long chapter focuses exclusively on the matter of finance, both for the worker and his work, as there is no feature of the work that touches practical issues as truly as its finances. There is no room for theory here. The great question for every worker is—”Has God sent you/given you this work?” If so, then can you exercise faith that He alone is responsible for both its needs and yours? The attitude of a Christian worker toward money will reveal the truth of these two statements. At the same time, as we learn to cast ourselves upon Him for financial matters, our faith will grow, and thus the spirituality of the work will grow. Keeping oneself looking to God in this way saves both worker and work from feeling any indebtedness to man rather than to God.
Under this thesis, there are many principles to learn:
- Giving gifts (learning this brings no official say into a work)
- Receiving gifts (can God receive what is being offered?)
- Receiving gifts from Gentiles (…don’t)
- From churches to workers (God desires churches with broad love in their hearts, and spiritual churches will consider needs of the work and workers both near and far)
- From workers to churches (making others’ needs known, never your own)
- From workers to workers (caring for you and those with you)
- From workers to the work (all expenses of work are borne by workers, not churches)
- Distinguishing between funds for an individual and funds for the work
Why are all of these so important? Watchman Nee says, “We are out to serve the Lord, not to make a living.” (p. 154).
Chapter Nine: The Organization of Local Churches
In this chapter, Watchman Nee spends the bulk of time considering how a local church is organized, especially in relation to three present-day conceptions:
- A “minister”—Nee emphasizes that church government and local work should officially be overseen by elders and deacons, chosen from local brethren, and all local believers bear responsibility for the spiritual growth and work. It is not the role of a hired pastor or minister to do this.
- A meeting place—Nee says there should be no official meeting place. Believers should meet in houses, although proper facilities should be secured for the meeting together “of the whole church,” according to the means of the church.
- Church meetings—Nee says they should be “round table” and active in nature; every believer has the potentiality to function according to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Work meetings, he says, are and should be more passive, as “pulpit/pew.”
Thus, workers are not needed for the three major items that people consider for the organization of a church. Workers may function according to being a brother or to their gift, but not in the office or stand of the work.
Watchman Nee makes a distinction between the management of the church (carried by offices) and the ministry of the church (carried by gifts). Much of what a brother is doing in their service can be ascertained in light of their sphere of service (are they serving by their gift or in their office?).
Finally, after stressing distinctions and separations through this whole book, Watchman Nee concludes this chapter (and book) by reaffirming that church ministry and work are all of the Body, on the Body, and unto the Body. “The churches are the Body expressed locally, the ministry is the Body in function, and the work is the Body seeking increase. All three are different manifestations of the one Body, so they are ever interdependent and interrelated. None can move, or even exist, by itself” (p. 187). Watchman Nee has differentiated between them in order to understand them, but they are all from, related to, and unto the one Body. In this way, the Body of Christ is the governing law of both the life and work of the children of God today.