Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 23, 1967
NUMBER 8, PAGE 7b-8a

Creating A New Image For The Church

William E. Wallace

One of the stated purposes of the "Campaigns For Christ" is that of building a new and better image for the church. In this article I am dealing primarily with the "Greater Indiana Campaign For Christ", but what we write here is applicable to all the other "campaigns" inasmuch as they are all related to the same campaign movement.

Note these statements: "The campaign offers a challenge to Christians in the area to project a new and truer image of the churches of Christ." "It is true that one of our purposes is to change the image of the church; not to change the church from God's plan but to change the concept of the church in the minds of the misinformed as to what the church is really like."

These statements appear in the literature of the "Greater Indiana Campaign For Christ". The first is a specific reference to the campaign, the second to the Herald of Truth. Such statements appeal to those among us who are dissatisfied with the idea of the church being at odds with the world. The sentiment among campaign leaders seems to be toward a world conforming church. (Note Romans 12:2; John 14:30; 16:8; 17:18-19: I John 3:15-17)

Christians, who hold a "like precious faith" with the saints of apostolic times, are naturally led to wonder about the image these campaign leaders seek to project. There is something intrinsic and inherent in present day saints, who are genuinely trying to be like New Testament Christians, which causes their minds to boggle at the idea of changing the image of the church. We like the New Testament image of the church, even with its accent on controversy and trouble. It seems that early churches were involved in pleasing God rather than in pleasing the world. They were engaged in challenging the world with the gospel rather than in attempting to project a world-pleasing image.

Real churches of Christ today are what they are because they are like churches of Christ were in New Testament times. If indeed they are churches of Christ they do not need to be concerned about projecting an image. Those who are taught about what the church of the New Testament was, will see the apostolic church in these Bible congregations today. If people do not know the New Testament church, it is New Testament truth they need, not a projection of a "new and truer image."

What kind of image do campaign leaders seek to project? The Indiana campaign posters present a picture of the modern, impressive, elaborate and plush Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus. Is this the image sought for the church? The pictures of Pat and Nick Boone are on the posters, advertising the brothers as song directors. What image is here sought? The poster advertises the campaign as "A Unified Effort of The Churches of Christ." Is it a unified image which is sought?

Clowes Hall is a tremendously impressive edifice, inside and out. It is certain that no congregation has such a building. If the building is supposed to reflect an image for the church, will it be a "truer image"? Other facilities which would accommodate more than the 2500 capacity of Clowes Hall could have been obtained. But it was suggested that the ornate Clowes Hall was more suited for the purposes of the campaign. Clowes Hall surely won't hold all who would like to see Pat Boone, and maybe this is why one preacher said he would bring only "his best members". Another highly enthusiastic preacher wrote of the campaign as "using the largest means possible to attract the largest crowd ever in the state of Indiana by any church."

It is quite apparent that the image which is sought for the church is one appealing to affluent and sophisticated society. This is certainly a "new" image, but not a "truer" one, nor a Bible one. It is not true to the character of the New Testament church nor is it in harmony with the greater mass of Christians and churches of Christ in our time.

Considering the kind of drawing card involved, (the Boone brothers), the seating capacity is quite limited. The "best" liberal brethren can fill the great majority of the seats, so the actual services will be limited in the image making business. But professional photography and expert reporting will assure the successful image building before those who cannot attend or who do not want to get in to see the show.

The basic error in this attempt at image building is the abuse of the biblical charter for congregational function. The cooperative of congregations under headquarters of one local church attempts to build an image for churches of Christ. Such a cooperative is without biblical sanction. It has no authority to represent churches of Christ, much less build an image for them!

In Indiana a small minority is represented in the campaign. The largest congregation north of the Ohio River — W. L. Totty's Garfield Heights — refuses to have anything to do with the campaign. Most other liberal Indiana churches are standing aloof from the campaign, one or two have asked for their money back after learning that Pat Boone had been chosen to be song director. Of course all the conservative churches oppose the campaign. The campaign movement is an elaborately organized force. With pronounced opposition from both liberal and conservative sources the campaign movement with its search for acceptance in the world, may become a 20th century world-conforming faction or sect.

It is quite presumptuous for the campaign leaders to take on the function of building an image for churches of Christ when they represent so few! Even if they could represent them all, they are functioning ultra vires--outside of that which is authorized by the divine charter.

-904 Thorndale Indianapolis, Indiana 46224