"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.III No.XI Pg.10,11
June 1941

Menaces To Mission Work

Ted W. Mcelroy

The words "mission" and "missionary" do not occur in the Bible, at least they are not listed in Young's Analytical Concordance, but I use them in the common and accepted usage today.

There is very little controversy over the fact that more mission work needs to be done, than is being done. The duty of making known to the world the "manifold wisdom of God" is resting upon the church (Eph. 3:9-11), and every member of the church is responsible for the work to the extent of his ability. That there is not enough of the work done is admitted by all; and in this article I want to point out some of the reasons why there is no more interest shown in this work. I think the brotherhood is interested in the salvation of the souls of men, but that many times the way mission work is carried on and supported, discourages brethren from wanting to have anything to do with it. I will show some things that hinder mission work; I think the greatest hindrances are from the very ones connected with the work.

Gospel work must be scriptural. In sending preachers to a field to work and supporting the work, the Bible plan must be followed. To use unscriptural means and methods of scriptural work is inconsistent and absurd. When a work has to be supported by means equally as unscriptural as the "ladies aid society," I think we had better wait to do that work until it can be done and supported on a scriptural basis. I think we lose our claim to the scripturalness of the work, when we use unscriptural and denominational methods to raise money for it.

Something more is needed in mission work than zeal, zeal is all right if directed in scriptural channels; but misdirected zeal is a detriment to the church and the spread of New Testament Christianity. The very first thing to be considered, concerning an endeavor, is the question of whether it is according to the Lord's plan or not. In mission work two things should be considered (1) character and qualifications of the one doing the work, (2) whether the financing is scriptural. Unsound missionaries and unscriptural financing have combined to kill many people's interest in the work.

The first thing I will consider here is, What about the man to do the work? A man that is unsound on many principles at home will not become sound just because he is sent out to some other field to plant the church. The men sent to do mission work must be loyal to Christ in every detail. They must be men that will not compromise with sin and denominationalism.

I knew of one case out here in the northwest of a man leaving a new congregation and another man coming to take the work and carry on. The preacher who was leaving began giving lessons on compromise to his successor. He explained, "Now you have just got to go easy on the divorce question, dancing, card playing etc. until you get the work established in these new places." That kind of preaching and mission work may get numbers, and give the preacher something to report as visible results to the folks back home who are supporting him, but that sort of thing will never build a loyal New Testament church.

Again one mission worker explained to another, "I call on a certain denominational preacher to lead prayer when he is here, I want to be nice to him, I think I am about to get one family of his members." One thing sure, after calling on a denominational preacher to lead the prayer of the congregation, he will never be able to prove to the congregation that the denominational preacher is in error and that his denomination will lead to hell. Calling on sectarians to lead our prayers is to recognize them as children of God and surrender our plea of distinction.

Sometimes premillennialists are sent as missionaries to new territories. I know of one in a foreign field today being supported by a somewhat loyal congregation. Personally I had as soon see a Methodist who believed in infant baptism sent. Suppose this missionary establishes something, which in my opinion is not very likely, the thing he establishes will be a Judaistic society, with doctrines as foreign to the Bible as they can be. Yes, I think I know how this condition arises, here is how it is.

First a man decides he wants to be a missionary, sometimes his decision is brought about by the fact that he can't find work in this country. The next step is to get in with some agent or society, and that agent or society begins to build him up, and write letters over the country looking for a church to sponsor his work. The millions dying without the gospel are pictured, and churches sometimes yield to this call because of the need, without investigating the man very much. I recognize that many are dying without the gospel, but I think we should be sure that what we are sending them is the pure gospel. Just because many are lost without the gospel is no reason for sending and supporting some self-appointed and self-recommended missionary to any section of the world: The presence of the missionary will not help the condition one bit unless he reaches the people with the pure gospel. So the thing to be considered in sending out missionaries is the question, What will they do when they get there? Will they preach the gospel, or will they promote some "ism" and compromise with denominations. If we can be sure that they will preach the gospel, then let us send them; but if uncertain let us pause and learn about the missionary's before we hasten to the field.

Another thing to be considered in mission work is the ability of the man sent to do the work. Churches sometimes send men on the hard jobs that they would not have for their home work. It takes more ability to go into a new place and establish a church than it does to preach to a congregation already established. We don't need men in "mission" work, that are failures in "local" work, (some make this distinction however I can see no difference, but my point is, if a man is a failure in one field that is comparatively easy, don't send him to a harder field.) I am sure that if a man can't do satisfactory work in a local congregation, that he will not be much good in a new field. Better consider the ability of the man along with other things.

I don't mean to indicate that a preacher to do mission work in a new field must be a fire-eater, or that "he must skin them just like I think they ought to be skinned" but I mean that it takes a faithful, courageous, sacrificing man with some ability to accomplish good in a new territory. I consider the greatest menace to the work and interesting Christians in it, is the "racket" that many have made of mission work. There are some who have never done any of the work, but have for many years been promoting and begging finances to be sent through them for the work. The promoter agents and agencies are like many of the missionaries, self-appointed and accountable only to themselves. I have a letter that I want to use as an example to show how these one-man mission societies work.

The church here sponsored some work in Cheyenne, Wyo.; and except for one or two instances that work was kept free from all "our" (?) missionary agencies. Here is how one of the agencies worked in connection with that work. The agent wrote one of the elders of the congregation here and sent a "second-hand" donation, (One that had been sent to him to be used as he saw fit), to be applied on the Cheyenne work. He wrote a letter with the donation and began crying, "I thought I had a number of friends there," "I know you have a friend in me," and ended by asking "please send me some subscriptions to my paper." With this sugar ($1.50 second-hand donation) he wanted to further his personal interest here.

This shows the devices of the agents, just how they work. The agent sets himself up as a missionary expert, and professes to know the fields that are needy, and then asks people to send their contributions to him and he will distribute them as he sees fit. A beautiful set-up from the outside, looks like a strategy of a denominational bishop; but it has no resemblance to the New Testament order of things.

Notice that when the agent passes the donation on he has a string tied to the contribution saying, "Please send me some subscriptions." In other words these "second hand" donations are used to place churches under obligation to the missionary agent, who then tries to dictate the policy of the church. Such activity is an insult to the brotherhood, it needs to be exposed; and brethren should quit sending money to these missionary agents. This is a representative story of every dollar that goes to the "one man mission societies," it shows that every dollar is used by the agent to glorify the agency, and further the selfish designs of the operator.

Brethren the Bible just does not authorize the "middleman" or the society through which to do the work. We need a restoration of the Bible plan of financing gospel work.

In the October issue of the Bible Banner I pointed out the fact that the Pepperdine Foundation in Los Angeles, Calif., had every essential characteristic of a mission society. It does mission work, supports or contributes to the support of the work of preaching the gospel; not only that but has published a little booklet in which others are asked to contribute to the Foundation, and states that your dollar will go farther in the Foundation than elsewhere. No one denies the Foundation the right to operate a school or a hospital, but does it have a right to invade the realm that God ordained for the church? My arguments made then have not been answered, they have not been explained away, and they still stand as the unvarnished truth, whether admitted or not.

We preach that there is one God, and that he is a jealous God; this forbids us having more than one God. We also preach that there is one body, which cost the blood of Christ;

I think this forbids forming another body to do the work that the Lord ordained the church to do. Any other body robs God of the glory he should receive through the church.

The Bible recognizes only two units to do gospel work, the church Phil. 4:15-15, and the individual 2 Tim. 1:16-18. If we hold to the New Testament pattern we can have no other method or means of supporting gospel work, I contend we don't need any other. Individuals or organizations that propose to do what missionary societies do constitute de facto mission societies, whether they admit it or not. Toleration of de facto mission societies among us will pave the way for a wholesale digression, the spirit that tolerates one departure will tolerate a dozen if allowed to grow.

The building or forming of a mission society (whether it is a one-man type or one with a number of officers) defeats the very purpose for which it is allegedly formed—gospel preaching. The forming of the society to send the gospel, perverts the gospel plan of work; so at the very best they just send a perverted gospel. Generally in most places they have enough perverted religions without adding another to increase the confusion. By tying a society or unscriptural activity on the work, it ceases to be pure gospel by the time it reaches the lost.

Some want to make excuses for unscripturalness in financing the work upon the grounds that the work must be done, and that it doesn't make so much difference how it is supported, just so it is done. In other words "do evil that good may come," a thing which does not happen. If you cut a hole in Bible truth to bring in the society (the one-man type or the Pepperdine Foundation type), through the same hole will come the other rats that are in the Christian church; "instrumental music," "open membership" and "worldliness" until you have nothing but a denominational rat trap, with every sort of rat (sin) in it that can be imagined. The same arguments to justify the societies among us could be used to justify instrumental music or any other innovation.

Let me make the plea that loyal brethren quit supporting unscriptural missionary agents-societies, and that loyal preachers do like James E. White, the Indian Evangelist, did, refuse to be taken over by the "one-man societies" and keep separate from such activities. It night mean that some preachers would lose a little support for a time, but what is that compared to the great service of checking a departure— if money is all you want, get with the Christian church and the U. C. M. S. Let us return to the Bible plan, and through the church make known to the world the manifold wisdom of God, as it is revealed in the gospel.