Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
January 24, 1952

More Big Things

A. R. Porterfield, Poplar Bluff, Missouri

It is always better to be safe than sorry. To be safe one must be careful. To be careful one must be sure he is right. To be sure he is right he must stay within the limitation of the Bible. We should certainly practice a little scrutiny before joining any national broadcasting hook-up for preaching the gospel or anything else. Yes, people are funny things. It seems that we just can't content ourselves with the "simplicity that is in Christ." We get big ideas and want to do big things in a big way—too big sometimes for our eternal safety.

So far as I know there is nothing wrong with a local congregation of Christians, under the direction of its elders, carrying on a national or even an international broadcast of the gospel of Christ if they can afford it. And I would certainly be the last man to complain about it. As a matter of fact, it would do my humble soul good to see a number of congregations doing that very thing if they as individual units can afford to do it. But if they can't afford it they should not undertake it. They might be embarrassed by having to close it or call on somebody to help support something they cannot conscientiously support.

Frankly, I have my serious doubts that but few, if any, of these big moves are made by elders of any congregation. Respectfully, but sincerely, I am afraid that most of such movements are conceived and actuated by preachers. Not that they intend to do wrong always, but big things are demanded of them if they are to hold a big job. And since many of them have had professional training what else can we expect but for them to look for big things that will make their profession a success? I admit that I have once been in sympathy with some of those big movements until I learned of their dangerous evils. For this reason, I believe I can understand both sides of the situation. I have been very closely associated with a goodly number of my preaching brethren. I think I understand most of them. Very few, if any, intend to do wrong or to lead off in the wrong direction. But they must get a "big job" done or a "big job" preacher will come along and get their job. They know it. So, off they go looking for something big to do, honestly or dishonestly, the Lord knows. They start a big building program, a big school program, a big orphanage program, a big missionary program. Trace back, if you care to, and see who the starter of all those big programs were. But here is where elders should come in. Why should elders demand "big things" of preachers? Is it because the congregation demands it? If so, for God's sake don't do it. Is it because others are doing it? If so, for the good of others don't do it. Is it because the Lord said do it that way? If so, let's get the job done as quickly as possible. But if the Lord does not teach it, then by all means forget it. Only make the simple demands that the preacher preach the word and stay in his place, and let the elders oversee the flock and stay in their place, simply by overseeing the only flock under their oversight. Leave the oversight of other flocks to other shepherds.

May I suggest to the elders of any congregation who wishes to start a national broadcast of the gospel of Christ to go ahead and do so if they are prepared to do it themselves, but let the balance of us listen in a while and decide whether or not we wish to help support it. If we find that the set-up is safe and sound we might join in and help. Otherwise, all parties would be happier at the close of it all to let it alone.

Some of the poorest preaching I have ever heard was over the radio. Who would want to support that sort of preaching? Then I have heard some sound gospel preaching over the radio. But how am I to know which type will do the preaching on a national hook-up? Better wait and see. Then we can be sure and safe. What think ye?