Vol.II No.II Pg.6
March 1965

History Of Current "Sponsoring Church"

Robert F. Turner

In the Feb. 18, '43 Gospel Advocate bro. G. C. Brewer wrote about a "new plan" for doing post-war "mission" work.

He said, "Some Christians are today beginning to prepare for such a campaign of missionary work as the world has never known." In explaining how the plan originated, he said, "It seems that the matter was first discussed among the brethren who attended the Yosemite camp meeting or lectureship last summer. It has been further agitated by some brethren on the West Coast since that meeting." Bro. Brewer favored the plan, and said, "the Lubbock Church sponsors this plan.' (Broadway, Lubbock. rft)

In the Bible Banner, June '43, bro. Ted W. McElroy reviewed Brewer's article saying, "It is not clear what there is about this plan that the "world has never known," but I assert that whatever it is it will be unscriptural (i.e., if in Bible, it is not "unknown" ; rft) and most probably when we find out what this now thing is, we will discover that it is not even new but that the denominations have had it for many years."

Further, "Now it is obvious and cannot be reasonably contradicted, when other churches participate in this plan, they put themselves under the sponsorship of the Lubbock church to the extent that they participate in the Lubbock sponsored plan. Please excuse me! I don't want the church where I preach to be under the sponsorship of the Lubbock church in any way. I don't mean any reflection on the Lubbock church-- I am unacquainted with that church --- it is just a scriptural principle that one church cannot sponsor another, regardless of how small or how large." Then, in the Aug. '43 Bible Banner, bro. Cled Wallace comments at length on "Post-war Plans." Citing bro. Brewer's questions: "Then what is your church doing toward getting ready for the execution of this plan? How much money are you saving? How many missionaries are you preparing?" he comments: "Now maybe 'your church' is doing nothing 'toward getting ready for the execution of this plan.' Maybe it has a plan of its own, conceived and put into operation before some brilliant minds ever thought up this new one. My idea is, from reading the New Testament, that a church is an independent body and has the right to select its own field of operation, raise its own money, choose its own workers and 'sponsor' its own activities generally without the handicap of a foreign 'sponsor,' even if it is 'A church with a competent preacher and a qualified eldership'."

These, brethren, are the early rumblings of the current "Sponsoring Church" issue, and show clearly that more than twenty years ago the chief point at stake was congregational independence --- the recognition on the part of bros. McElroy, Wallace, and others, that there was no N.T. authority for any organizational structure or function on a scale larger than that of a single congregation.

Since then the "sponsoring church" plan has swept the brotherhood, but God's word has not changed a line.