Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 24, 1951

The Church At Work

G. K. Wallace, Wichita, Kansas

A great deal is being written these days about orphan homes and how they should operate. The appeal has largely been to tradition. Catholic priests say that tradition is equal in authority with the word of God. Many of my brethren today are much like the Catholic priests. The priest tries to prove his point by tradition without reference to the word of God. The appeal made by many preachers today is to Larimore, Lipscomb, Harding, and the pioneers. The Catholics appeal to the church fathers, and these preachers appeal to the pioneers.

Caring For Orphans

That the care of orphan children is a responsibility of the church is not denied, except by a few brethren north of the Mason-Dixon line. They affirm that the care of orphan children is an individual matter. Most of my brethren admit, however, that it is a work of the church. If it is a work of the church, we wonder why the church cannot do this work without forming an organization to take over the work of the elders. The Children's Home in Wichita, Kansas, is operated by the Riverside Church. We have no organization except the church. If it be asked, "Why is the home chartered?" we reply, "In order to comply with the laws of the state of Kansas." In most cities brethren cannot build a meeting - house without getting permission from the city government to build. This is called a building permit. In Kansas the elders of the church cannot take children under their care or under the care of the church without permission from the state. This permit is called a charter.

The elders of the Riverside Church, by virtue of their appointment as elders, are directors of the Children's Home without any further designating or recording. When a man is appointed an elder of the Riverside Church in Wichita, Kansas, he becomes a bishop of all that God wants his church to do. It is not likely that any elder will wake up and find himself governor of the state, since the state of Kansas is not under the direction of the Riverside Church.

Hired Workers

Elders of the church have a right to hire a superintendent, a matron, a nurse, a cook, a teacher, a dairyman, just as they do to hire a song leader, a preacher, a janitor, or somebody to mow the lawn or fix a window. The New Testament does not contain officers such as matrons, nurses, cooks, any more than it contains officers called janitors, song leaders, ministers, carpenters, or plumbers; but the elders of the church may hire any or all of these to serve the church.

The elders of the church may hire someone who is not a member of the church to do a job of work for the church. They may let a contract to some builder to erect a building, and this contractor may use dozens of men, none of whom are members of the church.

A congregation may cooperate with another in any good work. This is clearly seen in the New Testament. We do not have to appeal to the pioneers in order to prove this. For congregations to cooperate, it is not necessary to take a member from each congregation to set up a board separate and apart from the church through which to operate. There is no parallel between the college and the orphan home. The college is purely a human enterprise on the same basis as a hardware store or a printing press or publishing house. These are works carried on by brethren, and are in no sense a part of the work of the church. Caring for orphans is a work of the church, and since it is, it should be done by the church.


There is no parallel between colleges and orphan homes. There is a parallel between an orphans home that has a board of trustees other than the elders of the church to do the work of the church, and the United Christian Missionary Society.

Since it is admitted that children may be cared for by New Testament churches, why is it necessary to have anything other than the church to do it? What we need today is to encourage congregations all over the brotherhood to take the children who are dependent and neglected in their community and provide them a home. We need hundreds of homes, and perhaps there would be if preachers would encourage the churches to do their duty in this manner. There are many large congregations in the brotherhood that could rent or buy a piece of property in their community, get permission from the state to take children under their care and place them in these homes and provide for them. In order to do this they do not have to go out and form some organization that God never heard of. The organization to do the work was given to the church by inspiration before the close of the apostolic age. The elders of the church are bishops of the charge allotted to them, and the charge allotted to them includes taking care of the needy in the community as far as they are able to do so. Any group of elders should be willing to take advice from preachers or from elders of various congregations. Cannot we see the difference in asking good men to give advice and of taking these advisors and forming them into an executive body? Do all those who advise the church in any given community become executives in the church because someone asks their opinion in regard to certain matters? Can we still affirm that the church of Christ is scriptural in name, organization, doctrine, and practice.