Having This Ministry
A Digital Newsletter from Living Stream Ministry

The Vital Role of the Church Book Service

The book service in a local church plays a vital role in introducing the ministry publications to both believers and unbelievers by displaying the wealth and variety of the publications for both personal and corporate pursuit of the truth of the gospel. The thousands of books and tracts from Watchman Nee and Witness Lee published over the last 100 years have made and continue to make advances for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the building up of the Body of Christ on this earth. Let us consider some ministry excerpts that provide insight into their burden for the publication work.

Bookshelves of ministry books

In 1927 Watchman Nee wrote in and concerning The Christian, which was his periodical printed in China:

Friends, please do not forget to introduce our paper to others. It is not easy to start a magazine. The reason we have done our best to publish it is that we want the truth to spread and to save and edify some people. We hope that you will have a share in this work and would do your best to introduce this paper to others. At present, we are not lacking in seekers for the truth. But they do not know about us and therefore have not subscribed to our magazine. I hope that you would at least introduce this paper to one other person this month, thus expanding the sphere of service of this paper to the saints. Thank you!

This work is very important. Of course we should do our best to proclaim our beloved Lord and other truths with our mouth. But we cannot take hold of everyone to speak to him. For this reason we should give away books. Do you know that giving books away produces the greatest results? Do you know that giving away a good book can lead others to receive the Lord, to understand the truth, and to forsake heresies? Unfortunately those believers who are able would not do this work. Although we cannot know the results of giving a book away, in that day when we stand before the judgment seat, we will see why it is worthwhile to do this work. We publish books, and you should buy and give away books.

If you have not introduced this paper to others before, we request that you would spend a little time and energy today to do so. Introduce this magazine to your pastors, your church members, your classmates, and your friends that they may receive the service of The Christian also. May the Lord be with us. (The Collected Works of Watchman Nee, vol. 7, pp. 1235-1236, 1239)

In 1984, Witness Lee testified concerning the crucial role of the publication work:

It would have been very difficult for the ministry of Brother Nee to spread without the publication work. The usefulness of the publications is long lasting and widespread. Like water, the publications can spread widely and imperceptibly “seep” into people. A published message can have a great effect simply by “flowing” into a home and reaching someone whom we do not know. The effect of the publications lasts forever and is not as shallow as the effect of only hearing a message.

In the same message given to leading ones and serving ones he said,

Today the Lord has gained saints who have a heart to serve Him; some serve as elders, some serve as deacons, and some serve in book sales. We thank the Lord for this, but please forgive me for speaking honestly to you in love: I am afraid that even you are not clear about the truth. This is the matter that concerns me the most. If we are a group of believers who have only been saved but who do not understand the truth, what will be the future of the Lord’s recovery? The present teaching in the homes is insufficient; we must get the truth into the saints’ homes. (The Collected Works of Witness Lee, 1984, vol. 5, pp. 216, 206)

At the beginning of the 2018 Church Book Service Workshop, Brother Andrew Yu gave the opening word, saying,

Many years ago, when you walked into a local church meeting, the first thing you would see was a wall full of books for sale; almost every church had a prominent book service, which was crucial for the church life…Unfortunately this was lost over the years until nearly no churches maintained a book room display or a book sales service. More important than the lack of a physical display of books, the burden to promote the publications also was lost, and the individual saints were left to themselves to pursue the reading and the purchasing of the publications…The hope today is that every church in the Lord’s recovery would rise up to recover the burden of the book sales service. This is like in the time of Nehemiah when the wall of Jerusalem had been torn down and the city left in desolation…With the building of the gates and the wall, there was a line of communication and supply to both the city armory and the city granary; that is, the supply of food and weapons could quickly be distributed to every part of the city, and the need of every district in the city could be conveyed quickly to the armory and the granary. Thus, every gate became a mode or joint to serve its own district…We hope to see that besides the Lord’s Table meeting and the prayer meeting, every local church would have a book sales service as a high priority service in the church to meet the internal need and the external propagation. Such a service must become a crucial part of the church life. (Church Book Service Workshop, “An Opening Word,” June 26, 2018)

May the Lord bless all our service to Him and may we see the great need and function of an active book service in every church. If you would like to receive more information on establishing or maintaining a healthy book service or would like to have direct fellowship and perhaps a personal visitation concerning the book service in your church, please fellowship with the leading brothers. We can be contacted at [email protected].