Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 7, 1959

Why The Adventists Out-Do Us

Billy W. Moore, Harrison, Arkansas

Last December the Christian Chronicle published a chart prepared by Leo Hindsley showing the number of foreign missionaries supported by the Adventist, Jehovah Witness, Assembly of God, and Church of Christ. I have seen the chart elsewhere, along with editorials asking, "Why the Difference?" Why are the Adventist supporting 23,000 missionaries in 228 foreign countries, while the churches of Christ are supporting 100 in 20 or 25 countries? The Chronicle also printed, in its "Letters to the Editor" column, a letter from Clifford Goodlett, Seventh-day Adventist of Smyrna, Tennessee.

I wrote to Mr. Goodlett asking further information about the Adventist Church. I received a very nice, five page, single spaced, typewritten letter from him giving me the desired information. I asked how they did mission work, if they had a Missionary Society? How many Orphan Homes and Homes for the Aged they supported? Also about their radio and TV work, fellowship halls, and kitchen and dining halls, and youth camps. Since so many in the brotherhood are wondering how the Adventists can do so much, while we do so little, I pass on some information from Mr. Goodletts' letter along with some comments of my own.

Organization — Society

In organization the Adventist Church has the local church, the district, local conference, union conference, and the General Conference. Of course we know (don't we?) that there is no New Testament authority for this type organization. But the Bible doesn't say not to have it, does it?

My Adventist friend said, "Instead of having a missionary society to which each church sends funds, each church is that society who sends funds, first, to the local conference, which takes out its share for the work of its conference, then, in turn, sends the balance on to the union conference, who take out its share to carry on the work of the union conference, then, in turn, sends the balance on to the General Conference which uses the remaining funds to select, send, and pay missionaries to all the world, as the Lord has said in Matt. 28:19-20."

This plan we recognize as an invention of men similar to the famous "Louisville Plan" of nearly a century ago. So it is not the organization of the Adventist Church that accounts for their many missionaries. The Lord's people have learned the fallacy of human arrangements in organizations — or have we?

I believe the key to the success of the Adventists is seen in the following paragraph from the letter: " 'The tithe is the Lord's'. Fully believing this to be true, Seventh-day Adventists as a group are tithe-payers, paving some $73,000,000 in tithes alone each year. In addition to this we have the free-will offerings. The tithe is used for only one purpose - FOR THE SUPPORT OF THE MINISTRY (Emphasis mine, BWM). It is not used for any other purpose at any time. Preachers overseas as well as at home are paid from the tithe. We send other missionaries — doctors, dentists, nurses, educators — beside preachers. These are paid from the free-will offerings marked for that purpose. Also church buildings, schools, sanitariums, etc., are paid from the free-will offerings, never from the tithe, except the preacher's part."

Brethren, here is the difference!!! The Adventist give! GIVE! GIVE!! They use their "tithe" to support preachers. While in the Lord's church we use much less than a tithe for everything we do. Think how much more we could do if each member of the church would give a tenth, and elders throughout the land use the Lord's money for preaching the gospel! We would not have all the "presidents, secretaries, etc." to pay that the Adventists have, so we could do more than they are doing. Brethren, we may as well face it. People in the church have been converted to first principles, but many have never been converted in heart or pocketbook. The Adventists build buildings, schools, sanitariums, pay for radio and TV time, support doctors, dentists, nurses and educators in foreign lands, all from "free-will offerings" which are over and above the tithe given to support preaching. I do not wonder how they do so much — I know how! And I know we could do a thousand times more than we are doing if the Lord's people would give as they are prospered. Still there are some brethren who build homes for unfortunate children (for they are not orphans), and for old people and expect the church to support them, thinking that they could not be supported by "free-will offerings". If "our orphan homes" would refuse contributions from churches (or better still if churches would refuse to support these human, unnecessary organizations) and go on a "free-will offering" support basis, they would still be able to do all that needs to be done along this line and would rid the church of the biggest problem of this generation.

Orphan Homes

On the subject of "Orphan Homes" my Adventist friend writes. "We do not own or operate orphan homes either as a church or as individuals, and for the following reasons:

"1st — We practice the golden rule to orphans in that we treat them as we would want to be treated were we in their place. By that I mean: — Suppose I were an orphan and had my choice of being put into a home where there were many others just like me who have no father or mother, or would I rather be adopted into a home where I would have a father and a mother, and oft times brothers and sisters who I could call my very own. Which would be my choice? I would take the latter 100 to 1, and so would you, and so would every orphan who ever lived.

"2nd — All orphans can have that choice, so why not give them their choice in the matter. For every orphan in an orphan home or out, there are many, many private homes who want him. If you doubt that, try to adopt an orphan and see how many are ahead of you who want him . . . "The Church of Christ" owns and operates several orphan homes. You have in your church many who would take every one of those orphans, and more, if the church would let he known that they were up for adoption, if not, then all they need do to close their orphan homes is let the Adventist conference in which the homes are located know the children are up for adoption, and we will take them. Not only us, but if you let it be known these orphans were up for adoption to the general public, they will take them all. So why not let an orphan have a father and mother, brothers and sisters, he can call his very own? They can, you know."

One would almost think this man was a "Guardian Boy". At least he knows what is best for the children, and that the church isn't to be burdened with caring for the children of the world, which is far more than many brethren know. It is impossible to know exactly how much of the Lord's money was given to the "orphan homes" among us last year, for they don't send out financial statements. But I added some figures given in the "Home Visitor", Southern Christian Homes' publication, and found that in December of 1958 that home received about $15,000. Now if other months throughout the year were hardly as productive they could easily have received $150,000 for the year. Perhaps some other "homes" did equally as well or better. Let's suppose that three others did, and that the remaining fifteen averaged just one third that amount. This would total $1,350,000 for the year. But let's say just a million dollars was given to these homes. This would support two hundred preachers in that many different countries each year. Add to this the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent for building the "homes" and you would have hundreds of preachers in needy fields. So in this one place the Adventist would gain several hundred preachers on us. And I doubt that any of the Adventists' children are "turned over to the Catholics".

Homes For The Aged

Mr. Goodlett says, "The church itself does not operate such homes, but a few individuals in the church do." So those homes would get no support from the Adventist Church. Mr. Goodlett could also teach some of my brethren the difference in "church action" and "individual action".

Church Buildings

The Adventists pay for their buildings with "free-will offerings", given after the tithe. Think of the millions we are spending from the "less than a tithe" we are giving (speaking of the average member). These millions, which I can not even begin to estimate, would support hundreds of preachers. The proposed building in Manhattan would support ten preachers for twenty years. And I was just thinking, if the Manhattan church would be content to build a half-million dollar building and spend the other half-million supporting preachers, it would support five preachers for twenty years. And if each preacher converted ten persons per year there would be 1,000 souls saved in the twenty years. And if each member gave $209 per year to the Lord the contribution of these saved at the end of twenty years would be $200.000 annually, and that would support forty preachers. But Manhattan would rather have a million dollar building.

Fellowship Halls

"We do not provide 'fellowship halls' for entertaining. We do, however, have recreational centers, usually on our church school grounds, in our larger centers, where both old and young may go, usually on a Saturday night, to play soft ball, volley ball, tennis, or skate, or play games. Also we show educational films in our church school buildings," says Mr. Goodlett.

Since their recreational centers are connected with their schools we know that they are paid for by "free-will offerings". (By the way, I expect we will have our "church schools" again soon. By church schools I mean schools supported by the church. They are already recognized as Church of Christ Schools by our neighbors.) The dollars being spent for recreation would support other gospel preachers.

Kitchens And Dining Halls

I am told that the Adventist people "do not practice the building of kitchens and dining halls in or out of our church buildings. Some of our larger church buildings have kitchens, but not for the purpose of entertainment, but rather to provide facilities for out of town delegates to our larger meetings. We do not buy or sell on the Sabbath, and these kitchens provide a place for the out of town guests to fix and eat their meals without going to a restaurant on the Sabbath."

Now churches of Christ can send still more preachers throughout the world by taking the dollars spent for kitchens and dining halls and supporting the preachers.

In per capita giving Seventh-day Adventists always lead the world. In 1956 their per capita giving amounted to $202 in North America. Now I have done a little figuring. I am told that there are 1,500,000 members of the church in this nation. If our per capita giving equaled that of the Adventists then our annual contribution would be a staggering $303 million. If only half of the contribution were used for the support of gospel preaching we could support over 30,000 at the rate of $5,000 annually. We would still have over a million and a half dollars each year to build buildings, buy radio and TV time, tracts, Bible school supplies, benevolence and other matters.

Brethren, need I say more? Isn't this sufficient for us all to understand why the Adventists are doing so much more than we are doing? We don't have to organize as they have done to do it, but we do have to give as they have given, then let the elders use the money to preach the gospel instead of supporting human institutions, building million dollar buildings, and providing recreation and fellowship halls. Remember, there are many preachers willing to go if brethren will support them. When one desires to go to some foreign field, or a neglected one at home, he must plead and beg to get enough support. We are much concerned with "our homes", and "our schools" and "our youth camps" while many are dying without once hearing the unsearchable riches of Christ!