Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 6, 1964
NUMBER 39, PAGE 4,10b-11a

Why No Church Organizations?


Robert C. Welch

"Do you mean that the church you belong to has no organizations?" is a question which can be. heard from many religious people. They are so accustomed to organizations both within and among their congregations that it is inconceivable to them for a church to exist and function without such institutions. In many instances hardly an act is performed in which the church has a part except through some other organization.

The Lord through his apostles revealed the organization for the government and activity of his people. Those of a place who have been sanctified by the word of truth (John 17:17), who assemble to worship and work together are described as the church at that place; "Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, even them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ in every place, their Lord and ours." (1 Cor. 1:2) This church, or congregation as it is frequently called, is provided with organization itself; "Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus that are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons." (Phil. 1:1) Jesus Christ is "head over all things to the church." (Eph. 1:22) This is all the organization the Lord has given for his people.


As men sought for greater power over greater numbers of people than that which is provided in the congregation, they developed an organization of churches with one man or a group of men over these churches. Such a federalization of churches culminated in the Roman Catholic Church, the first major denomination claiming to follow Christ. The federalization of churches under a central government makes a denomination. This governing body is sometimes very loosely formed with little more than suggestive power over the member congregations; sometimes it functions only as director of certain functions or work which the congregations have designated; and from there it goes to a complete totalitarian dictatorship. All such denominationalizing of the congregations, such federalizing of churches, is foreign to the Scriptures. The authority for such is not from the Lord but from men and churches who presumptuously claim such power and right.

The U.C.M.S.

A little more than a hundred years ago Christians and churches of the Lord became dissatisfied with the simple organization of the congregation itself, and looking to the denominational systems they patterned an organization among congregations for evangelizing. At first it was very loosely formed as a convention to which the churches sent representatives to hear lectures to stir them up and to receive suggestions about more adequate evangelism. Very soon the organization became more distinct, more-tightly organized, with more and more power among and over the churches. This was known as the American Christian Missionary Society. Later this grew into what is now known as the United Christian Missionary Society.

Brethren and churches protested, but to no avail with those churches who formed the organization. These churches which protested and refused to join such unscriptural and denominational organization were naturally ostracized by the federation. Because of their new found power those in the organization felt that these independent churches would wither and die and that this federation would continue to grow and fill the whole earth. They failed in their prediction; what is commonly known as the Christian Church has stagnated, lost all of its original potential, and now takes its place among the denominations, having no qualms about calling itself a denomination, though at its beginning it vehemently denied its identity as such.


No church under the headship of Christ will be partner to such an organization. The Lord being its head it cannot do so unless the head so orders; and the Lord has not authorized such an organization among and over the churches. Each congregation is independent of all other congregations and organizations. Each congregation, such as at Philippi, has its own bishops, or overseers, for that is the significance of the word in the New Testament. These overseers are limited in oversight to that congregation. To the elders of the church at Ephesus (Acts 20:17) Paul said: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers." (Acts 20:28) The apostle Peter writes to elders: "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof." (1 Pet. 5:2) This is the extent of oversight of church matters which the Lord gives any man. To make him an overseer of more than that flock or congregation is to act without the authorization of the head, Christ.

The church with its saints, bishops and deacons is sufficient for all governmental details of the church. The Lord, its head, has so directed, and has given no other organization for government. To demand any other than that which the Lord authorizes would be just as presumptuous and rebellious as were the Israelites when they demanded a king instead of being content with the judges whom God provided. God said they had rejected him in such a demand. (1 Sam. 8:7) Our Head says to us: "Whosoever goeth onward and abideth not in the teaching of Christ, hath not God." (2 John 9) We need to be careful then, against adding some organization for church work to that which is taught by Christ.

New Testament Examples

The independency of each church is exemplified man-times in the New Testament. In the church at Antioch the disciples sent relief to the brethren of Judaea, sending it to the elders. (Acts 11:25-30) The elders of the congregation are that congregation's overseers, as has already been established. The relief was sent by the hands of two men in the church to these elders. There was no organization between the sending and receiving churches directing the work. There was no direction of the work in the receiving church by the church at Antioch or its elders, nor direction from any other church; the elders of the receiving church were the overseers there.

When trouble was caused in Antioch by some false teachers from Judaea, messengers were sent to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about the matter. (See Acts 15) Antioch did not tell the church in Jerusalem what to do, nor did the elders of the church in Jerusalem tell the church in Antioch what to do, nor did the two combined decide what to do. The inquiry was made to Jerusalem, the message came back that Jerusalem did not send these men out with the false teaching. The apostles who were charged with revealing the word of the Lord by inspiration gave some instruction in the letter of reply. To speak of this as: "The Jerusalem Conference" is to give the incident a meaning foreign to any suggestion of the Scriptures, but borrowed from the organizational practices of the denominations. The facts of the case show complete independency of the congregations.

When churches supported the preaching of the gospel, they either sent the preacher (Acts 11:22; 13:1-3;), or sent to the preacher. (2 Cor. 11:8; Phil. 4:14-18) In these examples there was no church working through another church or through the elders of another. Neither did the churches work through a separate organization or society. There was complete independency of the churches.

Unauthorized Organizations

The church, with its organization of Christ the head, under which are saints, with the overseers and deacons, is not considered by many as sufficient organization for doing the work which the Lord has designated. Men need to realize that if the head designates the work which is essential and sufficient, then this same head, Christ, also designates the organization which is essential and sufficient. But he has designated only the church. Not being content with this they have formed intra-congregational organizations such as Sunday Schools, some of which also have become inter-congregational and even international in size. Ladies of congregations have formed their own organizations for work. This does not propose to be a criticism of classes being taught under the arrangement and supervision of the overseers, but of the separate organizations engaging in this and other work.

One of the latest fads is the formation of city wide and area wide "youth rallies, programs and conferences." They compare with the Epworth League of one denomination and of similar youth organizations in many of the denominations. A fraternal society for men is just as much in order. The fact is that organizations show discontent with the organization which the Lord provides for his people in government and work, and seek to denominationalize the churches through such organizations.

The Lord provides none in his revealed word, and the church needs no organizations through which to work in evangelism, benevolence, edification, youth, government, discipline or anything else. Since the Lord has made no provision for such, no church needs to work through or as a unit with any other church or number of churches in doing any and all of the work which the Lord has authorized. There is no organization for doing the Lord's work except the church.

"Every scripture inspired of God is also profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for instruction which is in righteousness: that the man of God may be complete, furnished completely unto every good work."

— 1932 S. Weler, Springfield, Missouri