Local Church, the

▪ international religious group
      international Evangelical Christian group founded in China in the 1930s and based on the belief that a city or town should have only one church.

      The Local Church grew out of the ministry of Watchman Nee (1903–72), a Chinese Christian who had been strongly influenced by the Plymouth Brethren, a British fundamentalist free church. In the 1930s Nee wrote several books presenting his beliefs and founded churches throughout China. He adopted an Evangelical Christian perspective but believed that the New Testament teaches that, as an expression of church unity, only one church should be established in any given city. Following the establishment of the communist regime, the government disapproved of Nee's activities and placed him under investigation. As a result, he was exiled from Shanghai and then, in 1952, sent to prison for the rest of his life.

      In 1948 Nee sent one of the church's elders, Witness Lee (1905–97), to lead the mission in Taiwan. Under Lee's direction the church flourished and spread to neighbouring countries, eventually reaching the United States. There it attracted members from Chinese American communities and later from the general population. In 1962 Lee moved to California, where he established Living Stream Ministry, the publishing arm of the movement, to facilitate his own writing and teaching activity and through which he offered guidance to the movement's otherwise autonomous congregations. The movement, commonly known as the Local Church, a name derived from Nee's teaching of one church per city, draws its teachings on the writings of Nee and Lee, which are published by Living Stream Ministry.

      During the 1970s the cordial relationship between the Local Church and the larger Evangelical Christian community ended. Evangelical leaders accused the Local Church of stealing members, teaching unorthodox views of the Trinity, and indulging in various “cult” practices. Christian writers included the Local Church in books on cults. One such book, published by the Spiritual Counterfeits Project, based in Berkeley, California, led to a lawsuit for defamation in 1985 and a multimillion-dollar judgment in favour of the Local Church. The suit ended Evangelical denunciations of the movement, and the Local Church has since quietly pursued its work without further controversy.

John Gordon Melton

Additional Reading
The teachings of the church can be found in The Beliefs and Practices of the Local Churches (1978); and Witness Lee, The Practical Expression of the Church (1970). Neil T. Daddy, The God Men (1981), is a critical treatment of the church.

* * *


Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Local Church controversies — Non Theological Controversies Naming Issues Internally, the Local Church movement generally refers to itself as The Lord s Recovery . Some critics claim that, as Watchman Nee and Witness Lee never claimed the name Local Church for the movement,… …   Wikipedia

  • Local Church —    The Local Church is an indigenous nondenomi national Chinese Protestant body, also known as the Little Flock and the Assembly Hall Churches. The movement was founded in the late 1920s in Shanghai by Watchman Nee (1903 72). Raised a Methodist,… …   Encyclopedia of Protestantism

  • The Local Church — is one of several groups which arose out of the Plymouth Brethren tradition …   Wikipedia

  • Local church — For other uses, see Local church (disambiguation). A local church is a Christian religious organization that meets in a particular location. Many are formally organized, with constitutions and by laws, maintain offices, are served by pastors or… …   Wikipedia

  • Local Church (and ‘shouters’) — Protestant sect The ‘Local Church’, which is sometimes called by its adherents ‘churches in the Lord’s recovery’, is a movement partially derived from ideas of Watchman Nee (Ni Tuoshen, 1903–72) and his movement, called by some the Little Flock.… …   Encyclopedia of Contemporary Chinese Culture

  • Local church (disambiguation) — A local church is a Christian congregation of members and clergy.Local church may also refer to:* Local churches (affiliation), a group affiliated with Witness Lee and the Living Stream Ministry * Parish, a local church united with other parishes …   Wikipedia

  • local church —    This term (from the Latin locus, meaning place ) refers to the presence of the universal Church in a particular place; the local church is properly identified as a diocese or eparchy, but it is popularly used to refer to as a parish.    See… …   Glossary of theological terms

  • Church of Christ, Instrumental — The Church of Christ, Instrumental, also known as Kelleyites, are a baptistic body of Christians based in central Arkansas. Contents 1 Names 2 History 3 Doctrine and practice 4 Referenc …   Wikipedia

  • Church — may refer to: Contents 1 Religion 2 People 3 Places 4 Popular music 5 Other uses …   Wikipedia

  • Church of Christ — or Scientist see CHRISTIAN SCIENCE n. * * * ▪ American Protestant denomination       any of several conservative Protestant churches, found chiefly in the United States. They are strongest in parts of the Midwest and in the western and southern… …   Universalium

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.