Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 6, 1952
NUMBER 43, PAGE 2-3a

We Work . . . You Pay

Robert C. Welch, Florence, Alabama

The trend is swiftly sweeping the congregations into a non-working association. A few congregations are deciding that they will take it upon themselves to sponsor, produce, and oversee some phase of work, then try to persuade all the other congregations to support them while they produce. It even seems that some congregations with such ambitions must look around to find some work to ask support for, then get their advertisement into the mails before some other sponsor beats them to it. Thus these few sponsoring congregations are seeking to take away all responsibility for work from the majority of the churches. All they want those churches to do is to be sure to make regular contributions to the sponsor's work. If it is not some sponsoring church wanting its hand in other churches' pockets, it is some one of the institutions asking for more and more from the churches' contributions. Kind reader, if you think that this is an exaggeration, just ask the elders of the congregation to save up the mail addressed to them for a month and see how much of this begging is done.

Church Of Christ Printing House

The latest advertisement on file here is from the East First Street church of Christ in Austin, Texas. They have bought a print shop in Arkansas and are going into the printing business. Oh, yes, it is to be on a non-profit basis. They not only will be selling the churches their literature, at cost; they also want other churches to pay for their printing plant. Sectarians have been asking for a long time where our headquarters are. Such querists will now be able to find out at least where our publishing headquarters are. They will also be publishing a paper for the churches. Note these two paragraphs from the letter:

"Besides printing our monthly paper—THE TRUTH—we plan to print and circulate many tracts, folders, books, etc. We intend to set up this shop on a non-profit basis for the full benefit of the church. Whatever profit is made from any printing done will go right back into the work of the Lord. We have no desire to make money from the Lord's work. If gospel printing can be done at a much cheaper rate than commercial printing, more churches can have an opportunity to advertise their meetings, and more gospel tracts and books can be printed and distributed at much less cost.

"Donations are needed to purchase these items. Total cost—$2,500. We believe you will be glad to share in this great work."

There is no criticism of their publishing a paper, or printing any other material to be distributed which teaches the truth. But this is another one of these efforts to become a centralized headquarters for churches of Christ.

Who will own this publishing house? Will it be the property of that congregation? or, will it belong to all those churches who have cooperated by sending their donations for its purchase? If it belongs to them and if they have an interest in it, will they have a right to determine what shall be done with it? Thus, either way it is taken there is centralized headquarters. If turned over to that congregation it will be giving it the right to determine the reading for the churches. If all donating churches have a voice in its production it will then be an organization of many churches, a denomination.

Is it possible that the advertising material sent with that letter denies their first avowal of non-profit? On their subscription blank they have a list of books they can supply: Young's Analytical Concordance is listed at $10.00; Johnson's New Testament with Notes is listed at $6.00; Nichol's Pocket Bible Encyclopedia is listed at fifty cents. It has always been the impression of this writer that the religious publishing houses make a profit on the books they retail. The Firm Foundation Publishing House lists these books at the same prices in its catalogue. If that is a sample of their "non-profit basis" we just as well keep buying our reading material from the private publishers. In this instance we have a church and a publishing house in competition in the same city. It is another step in destroying independency of congregations, and making a denomination of the church.

Other Church Of Christ Agencies

Among other advertisements addressed to the elders here in the past month (this is written in January) is one from the Union Avenue church in Memphis. Are they asking for their own needs? No. They are asking for funds for the Japanese work. They are very nice about it. You may send it direct to Japan, or to them. Is there any attempt on their part to become the planning board for other churches? Hear them, "This work can continue to grow and prosper only to the extent that churches and individuals continue to support the workers and their work in this area. We solicit your interest and support of this work. Our purpose at Union Avenue church of Christ is to encourage others to aid in the support of workers in this field."

What are they begging the churches to pay them to establish? "Besides the thirty established churches, we have in the area one home for orphans, one old folks' home, four kindergartens, and Ibaraki Christian College, with its various departments." Thus, Union Avenue is in the school and college business, and is asking other churches to send to them while they run these things that never have been the God given work of the church, i.e. kindergartens and colleges. For further information on this scheme for denominationalizing the churches read brother W. W. Otey's new book, Living Issues.

The elders also received the advertisement of the national radio program originating from one of the churches in Abilene. What work will there be for all the rest of us poorly educated preachers all over the country? Our radio preaching is so poor that it has no reception, but this program coming from Texas has been praised by the radio operators and executives (they also like the programs of the denominations). Will we preachers be able to handle the personal contacts which this program is able to bring about, or will we have to go out there to get a first hand course in national radio personal work? The national network program is certainly commendable if they want to do it. But according to present plans it is just another instance of some congregation deciding to sponsor the work, while others will do the paying. What work can the remaining churches do, except pay? Will there be enough different kinds of work thought of, for each congregation to have its own peculiar work to sponsor, so that all congregations will be sponsoring for one another and paying one another? Who will be first to sponsor a hospital in order to keep up with the Catholics and Baptists?

The elders have also received papers and letters from the various orphanages with their different types of organization. They are doing the work of caring for orphans, a commendable work. But their plan is to do the work, while the congregations pay for it. About all that the members of the congregation learn about caring for such unfortunates is that they need money. Members of the church, and the church, need to be doing work of this kind in their own midst that the Christians may learn by doing that there is more to visiting the fatherless than merely making a donation. They need to learn what it means to care for these children and train them. We have taught so much that the visiting required in James 1:27 is more than just going to see them, that the general idea prevails that the word means merely to make a donation for them. One extreme is as bad as the other. One by one the items of church work are being taken from each congregation and placed under a few congregations with their elders, or under a separate board altogether; leaving the congregations with nothing to do in the work except keep the contributions coming.

A Little Satire And Summation

Our denomination will have grown to manhood when all these headquarters for various work become centered into one headquarters. What group of elders will be willing to take over the entire supervision of all the mission work of the churches, all the publishing needs of the brotherhood, all the charity work of the churches, all the radio preaching for the brotherhood? If some board of self-sacrificing elders will coordinate all this work, there will surely be greater economy and efficiency in carrying out the program. In this way, the remaining churches will have nothing to do except to meet on the Lord's day for contribution, all the other work and responsibility will be taken care of by the sponsoring church and its elders, who so humbly sacrifice for the cause of church cooperation. Of course, they must not forget to have an extra large contribution on the fifth Sundays, this is the special day now in our denomination.

Sincerely, kind reader, is that what we are coming to in the church of our Lord? Once we are launched on this boundless sea of inter-church organization and work; where the Bible which has been our standard for so long is cast aside and now we have no chart and compass; with no one at the helm except some reckless brethren who want to do something even if it is wrong; there is no choice but finally to see the Old Ship of Zion wrecked upon the rocks of denominationalism, its battered and mangled wreckage drifting with the tide of modernism from the low ebb of doubt to the highest tide of infidelity and mockery. Will there be no sign of life, except the vultures above and the beasts of the deep to gorge upon the carnage? Yes, there will be some faithful ones to tell the story, who have seen the weakness of the denominational, human institutional girding, and are trusting in God instead of the magnitude of their plans. This paper is presented to the end that the readers may weigh the evidences being presented in the common practices which tend to denominationalize the church, and determine to maintain their faith in Christ and his word as the complete and sufficient rule of life and work individually and congregation-ally. Let each congregation work, as well as pay.