Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 17, 1955

Evil Trends In The Church Today

H. Leo Boles

It has been truly said: "Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty." This is not only true in the political realm, but it is equally true in spiritual affairs. We have one book, the New Testament, to guide us; we have one pattern of the church in the New Testament. We have to be ever on the watch lest we forget the pattern and depart from the guidance of the New Testament. "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things that were heard, lest haply we drift away from them." (Heb. 2:1.) We live in the world and are likely to follow the ways of the world; we are prone to drift away from the teachings of the New Testament. The slightest departure may finally result in a wide separation from the New Testament. We ought to be thankful for faithful men and women who call us back to the New Testament.

Causes Of Departure

There are many trends which are evil. Many churches have not recognized the evil in such trends. They gradually are departing from the standard and turning from the "old paths." Some are practicing these evils through ignorance. They do not know the New Testament pattern, and cannot be expected to adhere closely to it. They make the changes because they like them, and not purposely to depart from New Testament teachings. Ignorance is one source of the evil trends in the church today. Popularity is another cause of departure. Some lack respect and reverence for God's ways. They know them, but they do not respect them. The pull and tug toward popularity cause them to turn away from the simple pattern revealed in the New Testament. Others have a desire to be like the denominations around them. They do not know the difference between the divine standards and human standards. They think that the church of our Lord is another denomination, and they want it to be in fashion. Whatever new fads they may observe in the denominations, they want it to be brought into the church of our Lord. There are some preachers who need conversion. They do not know "what it is all about." They lead the church into certain evils because they think they are making progress in so doing. They have not learned the difference between Progress and departure. These are some of the causes of the evil trends found in the church today:

Some Popular Trends

1. One of these trends is that of the "organized Sunday school." They have a separate organization to that of the church; they have their "superintendent, "secretary," "treasurer," etc. These are all independent of the church and function independent of the eldership of the church. No one objects to Bible study, but all the teaching of the Bible should be under the supervision of the eldership of the church. The teaching function of the church should be guided by the elders of the church. The church under the guidance of the elders can do all the teaching of the Bible that God has authorized to be done. There should be a checking on this practice in the church, and all be brought in harmony with the New Testament.

2. Class organizations is another evil trend. In some churches classes have their organization independent of the church. They collect their money and spend it as they wish; it never goes into the church treasury and never has the supervision and direction of the elders of the church. However, even if it had the sanction of the eldership, it is a wrong tendency and should not be permitted to continue. Not so long ago an organized class of this kind rebelled against the eldership of the church and went off as a faction and started a church of its own. No one objects to teaching the Bible in classes; this is an effective way of teaching. But when a class assumes the proportion of attending to its own affairs, and even church affairs, it has "grown out of proportion and should be corrected.

3. The "ladies' Bible class" that meets some weekday hour has organized in some places with all of its paraphernalia, and is functioning independent of the church. In some places the preacher meets with the class, and much of the business of the Lord's work is done in this class. The elders know nothing about it, and seem to care but little about it. Some of them seem to think that the more the ladies' Bible class does the less they will have to do. There is a way that the ladies can do all the work that the Lord has directed them to do without such an organization as they now have. They ought to seek to know that way and destroy the little society that they now have in the church. It is a miniature organized society in the church as it is now run in many places.

4. In some places the women are now holding business meetings for the church. This is one of the new things under the heavens. The sisters meet and plan the work of the church, what shall be bought, what distribution shall be made of the funds. Some have even gone far enough, like the class mentioned above, to contribute to and help support "a missionary." They plan to support orphans, radio programs, garden clubs, etc. All this is done in the name of the church by a few ambitious sisters in the church. There is no example in the New Testament of such, neither is there any teaching in the New Testament that justifies such.

5. Another evil trend is that of holding banquets and social meetings in the name of the church. Some churches spend their energy and much of their money in holding social meetings and preparing banquets for certain groups of members. Some gospel preachers spend much of their time in announcing the birth of babies, wedding anniversaries, birthday anniversaries. Little parties and socials are held in honor of all of these. One preacher has gathered the statistics and compiled all of the birthdays, wedding days, and other events, which he calls his "social calendar." This preacher flatters the congregation, but does not teach the word of God. The church has become almost a social club, and yet it wears the name of a "church of Christ." Such a church needs to be indoctrinated and to be filled with the spirit of Christ rather than the spirit of worldliness.

6. Another evil trend is that of having the women lead in the public prayer. Some preachers are even encouraging such practices. The good women ought to refuse to be put in such attitude in the church. This tendency leads to public addresses by women in the church; in fact, it destroys all of the restraints that God has placed around the women. Such trends cannot lead to a more consecrated life in the service of God; they cannot improve a church. No church will be filled with the spirit of Christ and fill its mission as the Lord intended by practicing these things.

As Brother Tant used to say by way of warning: "Brethren, we are drifting."