MISSIONARY SOCIETIES AND SPONSORING CHURCHES.
1. In the age of the apostles, there were controversies and divisive issures that arose from time to time.
2. There were some that circulated erroneous views concerning the resurrection. 2 Tim. 2:17,18.
A. It was important that Timothy realize what type people these two and others were and so this is a warning from Paul.
B. Among the Corinthians, 1 Cor. 15:12, there were some that were saying there is no resurrection at all.
1) This called forth a splendid discussion from Paul concerning the resurrection and how so much hinges upon our acceptance of the resurrection as a reality.
3. There were some in the church at Thessalonica that had misconceptions about the second coming of Christ. 2 Thes. 2.
4. Some advocated, during the time of the apostles, that the Gentiles, in order to be saved, had to be circumcised after the order of Moses. Acts 15.
A. This became a hotly contested issue.
B. The Galatian churches were troubled with this same issue. Gal. 5.
5. Now, I mention these cases to show that things that are divisive or controversial are not new.
6. The apostles of our Lord did not hide their heads in the sand when some erroneous thing developed, as if it did not exist, they met it head on.
A. They wanted the people to be informed.
I. WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH CONCERNING MISSIONARY SOCIETIES AND SPONSORING CHURCHES? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!!
II. MISSIONARY SOCIETIES:
A. Definition: A humanly devised organization structured to be larger than the local congregation. It has its own officers. It selects and sends out preachers. It receives and disperses funds from many sources including congregations. It has evangelism as its principle work. It claims to be an agency through which local churches may cooperate in the spreading of the gospel.
B. History of Missionary Societies.
1. Protestant Denominations, back in the 1700 and 1800's started using missionary societies.
a. Even among the Baptists in those days, some were for it and some were against it. Therefore you have the Missionary Baptist Churches as opposed to those that did not believe in it.
2. In the early 19th century the Restoration Movement was started and advocated by some very influential and able preachers from different denominations.
3. At that time, there was a general speaking out against missionary societies.
4. Among those preachers was Alexander Campbell.
a. He came out of the Seceder Presbyterian Church.
b. He started a periodical called "Christian Baptist."
c. In the first issue of this paper, he said: "The apostolic churches were not fractured into missionary societies Bible societies, educational societies nor did they dream of organizing such in the world. Churches in the age of the apostles moved only in congregational capacity."
d. Later, he discontinued the "Christian Baptist" and started a paper called "The Millennial Harbinger". In this paper he published an article written by a brother in response to his first article mentioned in Christian Baptist.
1) This brother said that he used to agree that missionary societies were good and right until he read Campbell's article and studied his Bible. He then came to the same conclusion that was so ably taught by Campbell in his article.
5. In spite of this, about 25 years later, in 1849, The American Christian Missionary Society was formed in Cincinnati, Ohio.
a. A sizeable number of brethren from different parts of the country met in sort of a convention.
1) Alexander Campbell was not present but the ones assembled appointed him as the first president of the society.
b. Even though he was not present, his son-in-law, W.K. Pendleton, who definitely knew his father-in-law's feelings, heartily and warmly accepted and endorsed the society.
6. In 1874, The Christian Woman's Board of Missions was founded.
7. In 1875, The Foreign Christian Missionary Society was started.
8. In 1919, all of these were lumped together to become The United Christian Missionary Society.
C. Arguments made on behalf of the society:
1. Campbell said: "The church in the universal sense has not organization, therefore, it is free to set up whatever organization it pleases for the preaching of the gospel."
2. In the Millennial Harbinger of 1849, Campbell said, "In all things pertaining to public interest, not of Christian faith, piety or morality, the church of Jesus Christ in its aggregate is left free and unshackled by any apostolic authority, in arrangements for evangelizing of the world are left without a single law, statute, ordinance, or inactment in the New Testament."
D. The universal church is a spiritual relationship between the Lord and individuals and does not have any organization.
E. The church is only organized in the local sense. Acts 14:23; 20:28-32; Phil. 1:1; Rev. 2 and 3.
F. Where men have endeavored to organize the church in a universal sense, they have wound up with such organizations as the Catholic Church.
G. There are other arguments that men put forth trying to defend the missionary societies:
1. It is only a method of cooperation.
a. It seems that all the time, during the early days of the Restoration Movement, when men were speaking out against the missionary society, they were involved with mini-societies called association meetings.
1) From these came state meetings, and district meetings, etc.
2) In such meetings, men could not resist the temptation to further organize, pooling resources, sending out state evangelists, calling for more cooperation, more get togethers.
b. Campbell, in the Millennial Harbinger of 1831, said: "A congregation can do more than one individual Christian and a district of congregations can do more than one congregation."
1) What would be the end of such thinking? It calls for state wide, nation wide and even world wide organization.
c. Brother J.B. Briney, in his debate with W.W. Otey, in 1908, said: "How can small churches do anything in evangelization without cooperation and centralization?"
d. In 1867, it was said that preaching was to be done by the churches and the HOW of doing it is not stated.
1) The argument is not about the HOW but the WHO.
2) Every local church is its own missionary society.
H. In the Otey-Briney debate of 1908, brother Briney told about The Church Extension Board, an arm of the UCMS, lending money at a low rate of interest to small churches so that they could build church houses.
1. He said that over 1100 church houses had been built that could or would not have been built had it not been for the Church Extension Board being in existence and lending them the money.
a. So, look at all the good that was done by churches cooperating in financing such work.
b. When such a statement is made, it reminds me of a statement made by Bob Jones. He said: "It is never right to do wrong to do right."
III. SPONSORING CHURCHES:
A. Definition: A church that assumes responsibilities for work beyond its means, too large in scope for a single congregation, receiving and administering funds for other churches in that work which it supervises.
B. Right after the Civil War, in Texas, there was a man by the name of Carroll Kendrick that pushed mightily for state meetings.
1. In these meetings, where several congregations came together, one was chosen out of the group to choose and send out an evangelist for the following year. Of course, it was understood that the other congregations would help finance the work throught that congregation.
C. Earl West, who has written much about the history of the churches of Christ in the USA, said in one of his books, that in these meetings one congregation was chosen through which the other congregations could do their mission work.
D. For several years, the church at Sherman, TX, assurmed responsibility for sponsoring a missionary in the field.
E. In 1886, the Texas State Missionary Society was formed.
F. In 1910, in Henderson, Tn. a mass meeting was called for the purpose of telling the attending congregations that the elders of the Henderson church were going to assume the sponsorship of an evangelist for the area and expected the other churches to help them financially.
1. Up in Nashville, brother David Lipscomb heard of the meeting and he wrote publicly and said: That this was nothing more than a missionary society under the oversight of elders as the board thereof.
a. Undoubtedly what he said must have thrown a lot of doubt and cold water on the project because nothing else was heard of it.
G. After WWII, the Broadway church in Lubbock, Tx. announced that it was going to sponsor the evangelization of Germany. Of course, they were looking for brethren far and wide to finance it for them.
H. After that, all types of sponsoring activities among churches begin to take place.
1. Evangelize Italy, Nationwide Radio, TV, Literature, Worldwide Radio, etc.
I. In August, 1946, the Broadway church had a meeting to push the evangelization of Germany.
1. In this meeting, brother John Allen Hudson said; "I have believed in centralization of church work for a long time."
a. Where have we heard such statement as that before? Back in the outset of the Missionary Society movement.
2. In this same meeting, brother Lloyd Moyer said: "Rather than each congregation sending its two-bits to the different fields, let's pool our funds and send to one locality."
a. In defence of brother Moyer, who is dead now, it will be said that he later changed his mind and teaching on this issue.
3. In this meeting, one of the elders, brother B. Sherrod, said: "We are going to meet this evening to talk with all the young evangelists that want to go to Germany to preach. We want to find out if you are sound and are right for the work."
a. Note that the congregations that will be footing the bill will not have anything to say about who goes, etc.
4. The New Testament does not authorize one church to administer funds contributed by other churches for a work out yonder in a third field.
5. Some argue that the sponsoring chuirchis not a human organization but just a church.
a. But it is an organization who's scope is far beyond the limits of a local eldership. 1 Pet. 5:2; Acts 20:28.
6. Some say that it is just a way for churches to cooperate in the field of evangelism.
a. There is no general command in the New Testament for cooperation of churches.
b. There are only examples. Such examples show each church sending directly to the man supported.
7. Some say that the great commision authorizes the sponsoring church arrangement.
a. Guy N. Woods said: "I would believe in the H.O.T. (Herald of Truth) if there were nothing in the Bible about church cooperation save the great commission. There is in the great commisssion absolute authority for church cooperation. By cooperation, I mean the pooling of resources."
b. In 1908, J.B.Briney said the same thing about the missionary society.
8. The truth is, I have not found anything in the Great commission about the sponsoring church, about a missionary society, or about church cooperation.
a. It is only a directive that the Lord gave to the apostles. Mt. 28:18-20; Mk. 16:15,16.
b. How was it carried out? When you read Acts and the Epistles, you will find that the gospel was preached by individuals, it was believed and obeyed, congregations were formed, they were organized scripturally, upon the qualifying of elders and deacons.
c. Then, from the scripturally organized congregation the gospel was spread as opportunities afforded them- selves and abilities were present.
d. So, each congregation became its own missionary society, according to its ability and thereby it fulfilled its responsibility.
e. It has always been a matter of opportunities plus abilities equalling responsibilities. Nothing more. Nothing less.
One of the most outstanding things that is evident in the arguments of the supporters of the missionary societies and sponsoring church arrangements, is the lack of scripture to support such. Yes, these organizations are human organizations, set up to do the work of the church, but not authorized by the Word of God. Mt. 7:21-27.
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