Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 16, 1968
NUMBER 3, PAGE 7b-8a

The Local "Framework"

Robert F. Turner

What is "the framework of the local church"? Is it not the organizational structure God has authorized, whereby a plurality of His people may work as one?

The scriptures authorize overseers for the saints, but only on the "local level." i.e., these overseers may function only with respect to a single "local church" or "the flock of God which is among you." (I Peter 5:2) Elders are intended "In every church" (Acts 14:23) which puts each church on an equality with respect to oversight. The "framework" of organization is therefore "local" — no larger and no smaller. There are other ways to prove this, but the above should suffice. This doesn't seem like such a terribly hard thing to grasp.

But gradually the role of local (what else?) elders has changed. An Evangelistic, Benevolent, Advertising, or Something Else Society may be set up, proposing to do these works for a "brotherhood" of churches; or perhaps the representatives (delegates?) of a number of churches in an "area" may assemble, and decide upon some project — obviously inter-church — which they proceed to assign to some willing group of elders BECAUSE WE MUST DO THINGS WITHIN THE FRAMEWORK OF THE LOCAL CHURCH.

The scriptural principles which make elders "local" in the first place, are forgotten. The unit of organization is extended to "area" or larger, and a "project" treasury is established — far larger than could ever be considered the "local church" treasury — and these elders are asked to oversee this project, controlling and spending this fund on behalf of many churches — yet this is called "within the framework of the local church.' It is hard to believe that brethren could so delude themselves.

If a county sheriff was given control over our Armed Forces, directing their activities and spending tax monies gathered on a national scale, would we say we had no national army? Is this a local police force because the commander is still called Sheriff? How utterly ridiculous can we get? We would know that we were simply retaining county office names for a federal function. "Local framework" indeed!!

The sheriff might continue to look after local county affairs, and in these activities still function as a county Sheriff; likewise, elders of a sponsoring church may continue to act as local elders with respect to many things — but they are "area-wide" or "church-hood" elders in that work they serve as such.

The "framework" which God gave His people is like "single harness" — designed to work a local church. He designed no "double harness" — He made no provisions for "direction and guidance" whereby a "team" of churches could be worked together, and this is sufficient evidence to those who want to do "God's Work in God's Way" that He did not intend such activities.

God's plan calls for each independent, autonomous church to function according to its ability. Within this "framework" alone, we have assurance of divine approval.