An Ex-Local Church Responder


I would like to commend you on much of your work with the Local Church and I can only wish I'd read your article sooner.

I joined the Local Church a little over a year ago at the urging of my girlfriend at the time. I had stopped going to church about fifteen years ago because I could never find a church that urged personal reading and interpretation over that specific church's interpretation. When my girlfriend read the words of Witness Lee saying that denominations were the worst thing to happen to Christianity I was sold that this would be the church for me.

They preach that there is only one church and that all Christians belong there. This was even better. I've always like the idea that we are all Christians and to follow one person's teaching was not to follow Jesus Christ but to follow that person's interpretation. In my mind that is following false idols. I soon realized that this was all pretty words to dress up what this group really is. A denomination in itself that has so isolated it's members that they have no idea that they are not practicing what they are preaching.

This caused major issues in the relationship I was in. I wanted to study the bible on my own without the lessons by the Living Stream Ministries(LSM) but this was baffling to my girlfriend. When I read something by the LSM I would immediatly go to the bible and other sources to verify what was being taught. More than a few times I realized that it was quite off but when brought up I was blown off. Witness Less is considered so much more wise than anyone else that if you see something wrong with what is being taught you are obviously not wise enough to understand. The members of the church may not even understand but they will always chalk it up to Lee/Nee being smarter than them.

This was fully shown to me the other week in a Video lesson taped in the northern US part of the Church. In this video they talked about a church leader who was giving his own training to those who could not travel to California. In addition he was teaching lessons that were not in line with the LSM. Here is an outline of the points made...
1. For the church to flourish there cannot be division.
2. The LSM does not control the church.
3. There is no "Local church" we are Christians and so we have no denomination.
4. We were kicking this group out of our group.

And so I asked the obvious questions to these points.
1. For the church to flourish there cannot be division.
I will address this later.

2. The LSM does not control the church.
If this is the case why do they not sell non LSM books in the bookstore and why are we never directed to read anything other than LSM media? Why are all videos by LSM members? I am not against selling these books or even having them as assigned reading but to say that they don't control the information the church reads is ridiculous. Not a conference goes by that they don't "Strongly Recommend" reading some LSM book. If you do all the assigned reading the average person has almost no time to read anything else. Saying that people can read whatever they want in this case is complete double speak.

3. There is no "Local church" we are Christians and so we have no denomination.
I will now begin to answer my issues with point 1. If this is not a denomination then how can we have lessons and teachings that the entire church follows. Of course you have to believe Jesus is Lord and that the Bible is the word but what about how you go about praying? I was raised to pray silently. This was a real issue in the Local Church where you are constantly told to say. "Lord Jesus" or "Amen" to pray. And then you must pray out loud or you aren't really praying. It's like a proof issue. If you aren't saying it where everyone can hear you aren't saying it. Conversations about this went as follows...

"I think you should pray with me."
"Okay." *Begin praying internally about giving strength to said person to overcome X or something of the such. The other begins to repeat "Lord Jesus. Aaaaaamen." over and over in a chanting fashion.
"I thought you were going to pray with me?"
"I am praying...."
"You need to call on the name of the lord."
"I didn't realize I needed to do anything since this isn't a denomination with set rules right?"
"Of course but this is in the bible. This isn't the church telling you to do this. The bible says to."

This is where the conversation would end with, "Oh, don't worry about it." If you bring up criticism they will list Witness Lee/Watchman Nee references all day long but as soon as you require biblical reference or show that the reference they have is out of context they will smile, say something about seeing where you are coming from and then tell you that they are glad they had that conversation with you. At which point they will go back to believing exactly what they were.

4. We were kicking this group out of our group.
This was my big issue. If they are not a denomination, we are free to read and follow anything we want and there is ONE church that all christians belong to then how are we kicking someone out? If there cannot be division then how is kicking someone out not division. Even more so how can you kick someone out for doing what you consider sinning? Jesus came to the sinners. If you push people out of the church because of what you consider sins how can you expect them to be saved?

It was at this point it became very clear that the Local Church has created a bubble that they live in. Their teachings of denominations being the work of Satan only applies to everyone else. They are the Church and everyone else is the denomination. For people outside of the church this makes no sense because the Local Church is obviously a denomination since they have a set of beliefs but to those in the church they are completely oblivious to this. Add in the fact that they do the following
1. Only read LSM material
2. Meet only with people who agree with them or who they can preach to with no response
3. Go out of their way to keep members spending most of their time with each other. This is done with family meetings, Friday and Saturday night lectures, Sunday morning meetings to prophesie and the lords table on Sunday night.
4. Most importantly they are taught that all those who do not believe as they do are outsiders and should be avoided at all costs.

The last point is what led to the end of a year and a half long loving relationship. My insistence to celebrate Christmas and easter, pray inwardly and study outside of the teachings of Lee and Nee was constantly and issue for her friends and family. When we decided to get married they finally stepped in, past their normal passive nature, and required her to end our relationship. I am, of course, still allowed to go to the church but I will never be accepted and so I have left. It is one of the most unfortunate events of my life.


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