Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 15, 1961

Riding A Dead Horse

J. D. Tant, Portales, New Mexico

The Lubbock, Texas, Avalanche-Journal of April 27, 1961, carried the report of a survey made among Protestant churches which is very revealing inasmuch as it might well be a report of conditions in the "Church of Christ Denomination" which is fast developing from the Lord's body. The article, written by Claire Cox, is entitled, "Survey Hits Protestant Churches." The "kicker" above the headline states "Institutionalized Religion Scored." We would do well to notice some of the things learned in this survey.

"NEW YORK (UPI) — The Protestant church in America today does more to foster family divisiveness than togetherness, in the homes of parson and parishioner alike, a sweeping new survey reports.

"Churches are regarded by many primarily as institutions, as buildings with staffs and scheduled programs, the survey found. A church is good to have, researchers were told, like a bank, a swimming pool or a city dump.

"The layman was found to think of his minister generally as the executive head of a religious organization first and a spiritual adviser second. The minister was thought of as family counselor, job-placement expert and authority on child psychology."

"These are some of the conclusions of 'Families in the Church: A Protestant survey,' a five-year study by Roy W. Fairchild, head of the department of Christian education of the Theological Seminary, and John Charles Wynn, associate professor of Christian education at the Colgate Rochester divinity school and chairman of the committee on family life of the national council of churches." (Sounds like these fellows are victims, too. JDT)

"In interviews with parents and ministers, Fairchild and Wynn found many cases in which competition from too many activities had tended to separate the family. As children get older, some parents find they are only chauffeurs taking youngsters from one activity to another. The elimination of dining rooms from many modern homes was found to have cut into togetherness by wiping out the old-fashioned Bible reading around the dinner table at night."

"As for the 'institutional view' of churches found to be held by many members, Fairchild and Wynn said they were left with a strong impression that for many persons the church means a bundle of organizations, a mass of activities, and a crew of willing volunteer workers....who are engaged in about the same basic business as 'other character-building agencies!' "

"Parents told researchers they regarded the overly-organized church as a 'three-ring circus' in which father and mother are separated from one another as well as from their children...."

"Parental expectations of the church ranged from 'everything' to 'nothing.' Twenty-five percent of the ministers questioned said parents expected the church to take over the entire responsibility of teaching their children...."

"They (the ministers) found that tensions of the ministry often spilled over into their relationships with their wives and children. Their irregular work schedules and financial stresses were causes for concern."

So there we have it straight from the horse's mouth. This idea that some brethren have that "the more organization, and the more institutions — the better the work" just doesn't pan out. Why can't brethren see that the Bible places stress on the individual rather than on group or church action. The church is important, and it has a function, but it is not to rob the individual of his own, peculiar opportunities and responsibilities. It has been tried, and it has failed.

So why try to ride a dead horse?