Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 26, 1959
NUMBER 42, PAGE 4-5b

On Starting A Congregation


"And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury; For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living." (Mark 12:41-44.)

We have remarked several times previously on these pages about the aggressive, sacrificial spirit of conservative brethren over the nation who are determined to stand for the truth. Without any question at all, so far as our observation has gone, it is the conservative ones who are going "all out" to build new congregations, to support faithful preachers in extending the borders of God's kingdom, and to emphasize the "other-worldliness" of the gospel story. The liberally-minded brethren in contrast are devoting their energies, their time, and their money to the building of youth camps, orphan homes, recreation centers, colleges, and all those things which are concerned with a "this-worldly" emphasis.

In the beautiful San Joaquin Valley of California, where this page is being written, we have just run across another case in point:

"Potato-work" is about the cruellest and most arduous type of farm labor to be found anywhere. No machinery has yet been devised which can take the place of the day-laborer in the back-breaking job of planting, tending, and harvesting a potato crop. To these laborers a "forty-hour week" is in the same category as air-conditioned Cadillacs and winter vacations on the Riviera. They are in the fields when the first faint streaks of light begin to herald the approaching sunrise; and they leave only after the gathering darkness of night makes it impossible for them longer to see what they are doing.

The Christian woman of whom these lines are written is no longer young. The blazing suns of many long days in the potato fields have dried and wrinkled her skin and burned deep lines into her face, and the frosts of many winters are beginning to leave their whiteness in her hair. But she is still strong physically and mentally — and spiritually. Two or three years ago the congregation where she worshipped was invaded by the "institutional craze", and it became obvious to all that no consideration of any kind would be given to those brethren and sisters who could not conscientiously endorse and support the various benevolent and evangelistic institutions and arrangements. Those in control were adamant in their determination to force these things on the church for support, and would not listen to the humble pleadings of those who begged that congregational support be given only to those things that all could agree on as scriptural — preaching the gospel of Christ and caring for the needy saints.

This Christian woman left that congregation and now travels several miles each Sunday to worship with a congregation more in harmony with the truth, and manifesting more of the spirit of Christ in their consideration of one another.

But she is determined to get a faithful congregation started in her own community. For more than two years now she has been working tirelessly with that in mind. From her own meager income (earned under the blazing sun in the potato fields) she has bought a lot not far from where she lives; by her own efforts, with no assistance from anybody else, she managed to purchase a little frame building and get it moved onto the property. And now, after the long hours in the potato fields are done, she goes each evening to this simple structure and does carpenter work to get it ready for a gospel meeting. She has canvassed her neighbors and has secured definite promises from a dozen or more of them that they will attend services in "her" church, once it is suitable for meeting. A faithful preacher in the Valley is ready to hold a meeting there just as soon as the final work is done on the building.

Meanwhile, this sister faithfully carries on her duty as a member of the congregation she attends, contributing of her means, and doing all she can to build up that congregation — having the task of preparing a meeting-place for the future congregation in her neighborhood as her own private, personal project!

Do you see why we feel so hopeful as to the future of the church? Can you understand our optimism as we look down the years and picture the inevitable direction to be taken by the conservative and the liberal wings of the church of Christ? One group, having the courage, the total consecration, and the sacrificial spirit of this "potato-worker" will build congregations! Does anybody doubt it? Does anybody think they can be stopped? The combined might of the pagan nations and the Roman Empire could not stop them in centuries of the past. Nothing can stop them now, or in the years ahead! The other wing, the liberal brethren, will of necessity go more and more into the "social gospel" emphasis — institutionalized religion, with its recreation and entertainment; its "fellowship halls", benevolent institutions, magnificent monuments of stone and mortar in the form of million-dollar church buildings, and the total trappings of a full-fledged "this-worldly" movement. The spiritually minded will gravitate to one group; the worldly minded to the other. Let every man determine his course with an eye to the final judgment.

— F. Y. T.