61. The Principles of Establishing a Church

(1) Wherever 20 or so people have truly accepted God’s work and expressed a desire for church life, a church may be established;

(2) Establishing a church must only be done under the direction of church leaders, deacons in charge of spreading the gospel, or deacons in charge of watering;

(3) Once a church has selected its leaders and deacons, they preside over and are responsible for all of its work and for resolving all of its problems;

(4) A church may be named after its location, and after the church’s establishment, the number of its congregants may be set according to local conditions.

Sermon and Fellowship Excerpts for Reference:

The principles of establishing a church are as follows: A church may be established as long as there is a group of (around 20) people who accept the work of God, have written an application letter requesting formal entry into the church, and are willing to perform their duty. If there are only 10 or so newcomers who wish to gather, a place of assembly may be established, but a church may not be established. People who have not formally applied to join the church may only partake in assembly; they are not considered formal members of the church. Churches must be personally established by church leaders, a gospel deacon, or a deacon who waters newcomers. Unfamiliarity between people new to the life of the church precludes the holding of elections. As such, the first leaders and deacons of newcomers’ churches must be appointed through discussion by several people familiar with the newcomers. This is the trial period; it is entirely appropriate to hold elections six months to a year later, when everyone is familiar with each other. When a church is established, a prayer meeting must be held by the newly established leaders of the church. In this meeting, there will first be a formal announcement of the church’s establishment, after which prayer will begin. Each person will pray before God, announce that they formally believe in Almighty God and are joining the church, and are willing to submit to the work of God, accept the truth, be cleansed, and do everything in their power to proclaim and testify to God. They may also tell God of their wishes and aspirations, and they may speak to God the words within their hearts. Following the prayers of the chosen ones, the establishment of the church will be complete. During the initial period after a newcomers’ church has been established, the leaders of the district should make arrangements for people to water them and support them in leading the church life. Newcomers who truly believe in God, love the truth, and are of good caliber must also be nurtured so that they may come to understand the truth and enter truth reality as soon as possible. After a year, newcomers who are leaders and deacons may take responsibility for formally guiding the church life.

The church may have around 20–50 members. If holding assembly becomes difficult because there are more than 50 people, then provided suitable leaders can be selected, another church may be established. The most important principle of establishing a church is having the right people to act as leaders—this is key. The church can be named after a local place name, similar to the churches of Corinth and Ephesus and so on recorded in the Bible. Once the church has been established, assembly groups can be set up based on where the newcomers live. The number of people in each group should be flexible according to the local situation.

Excerpted from Work Arrangements

The church’s administrative body is to be comprised of a five-person team, with two leaders of equal seniority serving in coordination, and three deacons. The three deacons shall comprise one deacon of evangelism, one deacon of general affairs, and one deacon of watering. The life of the church is the direct responsibility of the two leaders.

Excerpted from Work Arrangements

For newcomers from among the unbelievers, if they have believed for over three months and number around 20, they may found a new church. If they are all new believers and are still not certain that this is the true way, then no matter how many of them there are, the founding of the new church must not be rushed. If the newcomers from the unbelievers are few and scattered or drawn from the direct family, relatives, or friends of brothers and sisters and are relatively familiar to them, if they comport themselves well, then they may be inducted into the church after three months. If, once the church has been founded, it is discovered to contain people who cannot be depended on, they may be placed in Group B for assembly so that they can be observed.

The principles and conditions for founding a church of newcomers from among the unbelievers are that they must understand several aspects of basic knowledge that a Christian should possess as a minimum: 1. They must acknowledge, in their hearts, that only Almighty God is the one true God who created heaven, earth, and everything in them and is the Master of everything in the universe. 2. They must be aware that belief in God is in order to be saved, escape sin, escape the influence of Satan, fully return to God, submit to God, and worship God; only by believing in God in this way can they gain everlasting life. 3. They must uphold the name of the true God. They must not worship idols or evil spirits, and must forsake all false gods and evil spirits. 4. They must not partake in political activities. They should abide by national political systems, but in their faith not be subject to the restrictions of any country, government, or political party; they must only obey God, not people. 5. They must be wise; they must have the responsibility to uphold the work and interests of the house of God, and if not, they are not fit to share in God’s grace. If they understand these things, then a new church may be established for them or they can be accepted into an existing church; if they do not, then the establishment of a new church or their acceptance into an existing church should be postponed.

Excerpted from Work Arrangements

Previous: 60. The Principles of Fellowshiping on God’s Word the Truth

Next: 62. The Principles of Church Elections

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