Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 22, 1960
NUMBER 33, PAGE 4,13a

A New Nomenclature


We publish herewith a picture of a church sign erected by our brethren in Monett, Missouri. We believe this sign (and others of similar import now beginning to appear in all parts of the country) will perhaps be an indication of what may be developing so far as "church names" are concerned. We have been asked repeatedly in late years, "What do you think the liberal Churches of Christ will call themselves when they develop the full-fledged missionary and benevolent institutions?" Faithful brethren have seemed to feel that the newly emerging congregations, venturing out into the "new frontiers" of institutionalism would seek some new name by which to be known. We supposed there would be no desire to take up a new or distinctive nomenclature, but that these brethren would probably follow the course of many of the "Christian Church" people and continue to refer to their congregations as "Churches of Christ."

But the Monett sign and others like it are now giving us a second thought on this subject. And if this trend continues it is quite possible that the institutional churches will feel called upon to adopt some distinctive phrase or word to distinguish themselves from the simple New Testament churches which will still be known as "churches of Christ." This is a problem Baptist churches have wrestled with for years. And all over the nation one can find various distinctive titles and tags to tell "which kind" of Baptist church some particular congregation is — "Primitive," "Bible," "Fundamental," "Conservative," "Cooperative," "Missionary," "Convention," "Association," "Free-will," etc.

In California we have seen signs designed to tell all and sundry that certain listed congregations are "Herald of Truth" congregation,; in Morton, Texas, a certain church of Christ advertises itself as a "Fellowshipping and Good Works Church of Christ." And we saw an advertisement in a newspaper not long ago telling all the readers that this particular congregation, "Believes in Benevolence and Cooperation."

Chart Goes Here (Picture Not Legible)

But it seems like that the simple designation "Church of Christ (Cooperative)" is likely to win general and popular acceptance among the institutional congregations. We are seeing it in increasing numbers. It is simple, distinctive, and easily understood. And it designates a type of church activity which makes a clear demarcation line between those practicing it and those not practicing it. In fact, the Monett, Missouri, sign indicates more than meets the eye.

This picture does not indicate it, but the word "Cooperative" was apparently added to this bill-board some time after the other sign had been up. It is even painted in a different color. Which suggests that these brethren came to realize that the simple scriptural designation, "Church of Christ," was not enough. There had to be a qualifying word, phrase, or tag, telling what kind of "church of Christ." And when brethren generally come to understand the import of "Cooperative" we feel the choice may be a good one. For this word does not mean that other churches of Christ do NOT "cooperate," but it does mean that there is a particular KIND of "cooperative" action, to which this congregation is committed, and which other churches of Christ do not accept nor practice.

And what is that "cooperative" action? It is a modern version of the old, discredited, discarded, and unscriptural plan for the elders of one congregation to act as a centralized agency through which scores (or as in the case of Herald of Truth) thousands of other congregations are able to pool their funds for administration of a common work under a single eldership. This is a type of "cooperative" work which was tried in Texas following the Civil War, and through the vigorous opposition of David Lipscomb and his Gospel Advocate was rejected as without scriptural authority. The original name given to this "cooperative" (by Dr. Carroll Kendrick) was "Receiving, Managing, and Disbursing Evangelistic Committee." The plan was rejected by faithful churches after Lipscomb (and others) had pointed out its unscriptural basis, but has been revived and renovated and given a new name in recent years. It is now known as a "sponsoring church cooperative."

And that is what the "Cooperative" on the Monett sign means. It tells all brethren that this congregation endorses and is a part of the "sponsoring church cooperative" combines which have now involved so many congregations in these centralized projects.

We commend the Monett brethren for their honesty and fairness in designating themselves as a "Cooperative Church of Christ." That is the fair thing to do. It will enable simple Christians who may be traveling through that section to know at a glance that this is something more than a New Testament "Church of Christ." Many brethren would be saved time, trouble, and embarrassment if all "Cooperative Churches of Christ" would so designate themselves.