Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 20, 1958
NUMBER 26, PAGE 1,13b

Reminiscing--(No. II.)

C. D. Crouch

In a former article I called attention to the fact that I was at a "Meeting of Preachers and Elders" at Henderson, Tennessee in 1910. During that meeting the Henderson church decided to engage an evangelist, and put him in the field as their evangelist, and have him conduct gospel meetings at "mission points" throughout West Tennessee. The plan was for the Henderson church to ask and receive financial aid from other churches in the area, the Henderson church was to receive money from other churches, and pay out that money to the preacher, whom they were to direct and counsel in that field.

I do not recall that any preacher present at the meeting questioned the scriptural right of such an arrangement. But, when the report reached David Lipscomb, he immediately charged that it was "making a missionary society of the elders of the Henderson church." That was the end of that project. J. W. Dunn was to have been the West Tennessee evangelist. The work was not begun. No preacher questioned the correctness of David Lipscomb's statement about the matter. No one dared undertake to show that Lipscomb was wrong. I thought he convinced all of us that it was about to become a missionary society in the Henderson church. Brethren Freed and Hardeman were elders of that church then, and they did not take issue with Brother Lipscomb. Surely, they did not let the proposed work die because David Lipscomb disagreed with their plan, while they still believed it was scriptural and right!!? No, there were no preachers in the church in 1910 who were capable of showing that David Lipscomb was in error regarding this present day hobby of "CHURCH SPONSORING" cooperation. Isn't it a great pity that some of these present day preachers were not there to show that David Lipscomb was a "hobbyist", a "crank", or a "crackpot"? What a pity!!! What a pity!!! Such great men that we have in the church today!! What a pity, we had no such giants in that year of the not so distant past!!! But, somehow, the more I think of it, the more I am convinced that all of the present generation of preachers are veritable pigmies in comparison with David Lipscomb!!!!

Nowadays, they tell us there is no parallel between the missionary society and the Benevolence society. And most certainly no parallel between these and the "sponsoring church" set-up.

Let's say, that in a certain region there are several congregations. And, let's name a few of them. There is the church at Antioch, and the church at Ararat, and there is the church at Bear Willow, and the church at Bugscuffle; there is the church at Corinth and the church at Coyote, and there is the church at Coon Ridge and the church at Good Hope; then there is the church at Hoot And Holler, and the church at Poor Do and the church at Possum Trot, and the church at Steep Hollow and the church at Stump Toe. Well, that is a goodly number of churches, and while all the names given are at different places, names applied to places or churches, it is not necessary for our purpose here to identify the region at some particular place on the map. Let's just consider the fact that they all represent "country churches" and let's consider the fact that God loves the country church that is faithful to Him as well as the city church. Let's regard them as average churches. Be it granted that there is room for growth and improvement in all churches. At least, I think that is true of all churches known to me. But, as in all churches, there are some members in each of these churches who have made more growth than some others. There are some members in each of the aforementioned churches that have more zeal than others. Now, let us suppose that one zealous member from each of these churches begins to agitate "mission work" and the more he talks it the more enthusiastic he becomes. After a time, these zealous brethren all get together in a meeting. They all have more zeal than knowledge, and when they come together, they have all decided that the churches are not doing as much evangelistic work as they should. Let us grant also, that they are probably right about that. They "resolute" and "whereas" a good deal in their meeting, and finally form themselves into a "board of directors" to do more mission work than is being done. They select one of their number as "chairman of the board", and another as Sec'y-Treasurer, and another as CORRESPONDING SECRETARY. They and they may not incorporate. But each one pledges himself to give a substantial amount to preach the gospel, and they further agree to solicit all the churches to assist them in the good work. I don't believe there is a member of the "body of Christ" any place on earth but that would recognize the fact that a missionary society has been formed!!!! Oh, it is not as big yet as the UNITED CHRISTIAN MISSIONARY SOCIETY. Its business manager and directors would tell you it is just a "business arrangement to more efficiently preach the gospel"!!!! No, it doesn't even "dominate" the churches!!!!

Now, let's suppose another member from each of the aforementioned churches contacts each other, and they call a meeting, and decide to do something about caring for orphans!! They hold the meeting, and form themselves into an organization, constitute themselves a BOARD OF DIRECTORS. One of their number is elected Chairman of the Board, and another is chosen SUPERINTENDENT. They draw up the by-laws, and their purposes are stated in the by-laws. They each pledge a substantial amount, and solicit funds from others — both churches and individuals. They erect buildings, employ the necessary personnel. They receive orphaned children (and possibly more that are not orphaned.) This board too, assumed that the churches were not caring for orphans as they should have been doing. Now, if the one organization is a missionary society, why is the other not a benevolence society? One prominent preacher says the missionary society dominates the church. Presumably, he thinks the missionary society is wrong because it dominates the church. But, the missionary society described above is not dominating the churches — not yet. Maybe the missionary society is not wrong then till it begins to dominate the churches. The benevolence society described above does the work of benevolence, and the churches that contribute to it think they are caring for the orphans in so doing. The churches that contribute to the missionary society described above think they are preaching the gospel in their so doing.

Now, let's suppose that the church at Good Hope declines to go along with either of the boards mentioned above. Good Hope continues to support her preachers at home and in "regions beyond". Good Hope church is only an average church compared to the other churches, in membership and in financial strength. But Good Hope sends her preacher to various places where the gospel needs to be proclaimed, and she sends financial aid to other preachers who are in destitute fields. The church at Good Hope believe that they can conduct their own affairs as well (or better) than any "board" can do it for them!!! And at same time they know they have scriptural authority for their doing so!!!

Then, too, there are a number of orphans in the congregation of Good Hope. Instead of sending them off to the benevolence society that the brethren have organized, the elders of Good Hope decide to build a house in which these children may be cared for. Let's suppose there is a bachelor in the church at Good Hope who has graduated from the State University, majoring in Social Science. The elders employ him to make the necessary arrangements, and collect the needed personnel to take care of the children. Suppose too, that there are two old maid sisters in the congregation who are also graduates in Social Science, and they too are employed, and paid by the church to help take care of the children!!!

Now who says the church can't make arrangements to take care of orphans as easily as the benevolence society can??? Of course, it is far better for all children to remain with their mother if she is living, and the churches can contribute to her needs and let her keep her children with her. But, somehow that is not as showy as human arrangements!!!!