This recommendation came in the comment stream of a post called “Messy Meetings“. In this comment stream, David said: “Messy situations are best handled in small-group meetings. However, there are certain things that happen specifically in large-group meetings that, in my opinion, it would be a big loss to do away with.” In support for this view, David recommended that I read Assembling Together, so I did. David and I have much in common and our conversations have always been encouraging and challenging (at least for me). We now share another thing in common – a respect for Watchman Nee and this book.
Before I discuss the book, I thought I would introduce you to Watchman Nee (at least for those who have never read Watchman Nee). Most of this information comes from the Wikipedia article on Watchman Nee (yes, I know that these articles are suspect, but this is the only source that I have at the moment).
One of the interesting concepts in Assembling Together is Nee’s understanding of the city-church, which he calls “local church” (See the Wikipedia article on “local churches”). When Nee uses that phrase “local church”, he is not using it in the common sense. Instead, he understands that the smallest division of church can only be at the city level. All believers in a city are part of this city-church (“local church”). I’ll discuss this view of “church” in detail in a later blog post.
While I don’t agree with Nee completely on his concept of “church”, it is interesting that the Wikipedia article points to Nee’s “local churches” as the foundation for the current house church movement in China.
There are many parts of Assembling Together that I can wholeheartedly endorse. There are other parts that appear to be more speculative. As I understand it, Nee’s protege Witness Lee took many of the speculative aspects of Nee’s theology and developed them even further.
Besides the “city church” concept mentioned above, Nee’s book includes a few other interesting beliefs. I’ll discuss some of these during this next week.
Finally, as we study this short book, we must remember that Assembling Together does not stand on its own. It is one edition in a six part series called “Basic Lessons”. Based on the titles and chapters, I am interested in reading other editions of “Basic Lessons”.
Have any of you read anything by Watchman Nee?