Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
June 28, 1951

Some More About The Committee System

C. F. George, Brownwood, Texas

In the April 24th issue of the Firm Foundation brother Clifton Rogers takes issue with me and also the accompanying editorial that appeared in the April 6th issue of the same paper, concerning the organization of churches into countless committees for the purpose of carrying on the work of the church.

As brother Rogers and I are not personally acquainted, I take it for granted that there were no personal motives involved in his reply, and I know there are none on my part. Since his views represent the general views of those who advocate the use of committees I wish to give them further consideration.

In the former article I showed that the use of committees to do all the work of the church or supervise the ones who do the work, was wrong for the following reasons: (1) They are unscriptural; (2) They supplant the work of elders and deacons; (3) Women are given supervisory jobs in the church, a thing not practiced nor commanded by the apostles.

If I did not make it clear in the first article, I was not condemning elders for dividing work among deacons, but from creating committees composed of men and women who have never been appointed to anything, and delegating their own work and the work of the deacons to these committees. Elders have a right to assign work to men and women but they do not have a right to delegate the oversight that is rightfully theirs to these committees, neither do they have the right to delegate the work that is supposed to be done by deacons to members who have not been appointed to this office. To delegate the oversight to someone else would be to adopt the principle of oversight by proxy, and there is no scriptural authority for such procedure. If this could be done, then one group of elders could oversee a number of congregations. Catholics believe this can be done, but churches of Christ have always rejected this principle.

The next thing I wish to call to your attention is that deacons are servants of the church in some way in which other members are not. I pointed out in my former article what I believe to be the difference. I should like for brother Rogers or someone else who advocates the committee system, to draw the line where a deacon's work ends, and a committee's work begins. If there is no difference, and any member in the church may be appointed to do anything that a deacon can do there is absolutely no need for a church to appoint deacons. Baptist churches have no elders, in practice many churches of Christ have no deacons or elders either.

I pointed out in my former article that a deacon's work is supervisory in nature as well as an elder's, only in different fields and in subordination to the elders. A deacon who is not a plumber can get one when he is needed. The seven deacons in the sixth chapter of Acts were to oversee the distribution of food to the needy widows in order that the apostles might be able to give their full time to the preaching of the word. That is a good plan to follow now; appoint deacons to see after the temporal affairs of the church, and let elders be free to feed the flock as they are charged to do. (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:2) But this is the way we do it. Elders appoint a committee on committees, the committee appoints other committees to see after the work of the church, including the teaching of the Bible, and the distribution of the funds of the church. The elders can then sit back and watch the machine run. Now I am not opposed to a church being organized, but the Bible tells us how to do it, and we have no right to change God's plan.

Regarding big churches, the same plan will work with big churches as with small ones. A big church should have more men qualified to be deacons and elders than a small one, and the Bible places no limit on the number that may be appointed. Incidentally, how many churches do you know of today that have five thousand men in its membership as the church at Jerusalem had? If they could get along with only elders and deacons, why can't we do the same thing? The trouble is that we keep branching out into things that are not the business of the church. I made this point clear concerning numbers in my former article but brother Rogers failed to see it or else ignored it.

Brother Rogers thinks that I am lacking in logical reasoning because I said this system had been in use only a few years. A man does not have to be logical to know whether something has been practiced or not. I do not deny that committees have been appointed to do a special job such as building a house of worship, and when the job was completed, the committee dissolved, but I do say this idea of setting up committees to be used on a year to year basis and letting them see after every phase of church work is relatively new today, and is still not being used in many large churches as well as small churches.

When I came to brother Roger's topic concerning the scriptural authority of these committees, I thought maybe that he had found some scripture that I did not know about. But what did he use? The same old dodge the digressives have been using for the last seventy five years. Anyone who knows enough to be trying to instruct others knows that church houses, song books, etc., are necessary in carrying out God's commands to assemble, and to sing, and therefore are scriptural by necessary inference. But where is the necessary inference in regard to this committee system? God gave us a plan for coordinating the work of the church, why change it? Again I ask, if elders and deacons are not to see if the work of the church is done in their capacities as officers of the church, what are they good for?