Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 5, 1970

The Church Versus Organizations

Foy E. Wallace, Jr. — 1922

That there are methods of doing the work of the church no informed person will deny. There is, however, a wide difference in a method and organization. The missionary society is an institution, an organization, hence, cannot be called a method of doing the work of the church. It is also possible for a Christian college to exceed its proper limits, encroach upon the rights of the church and usurp her work. There has, indeed, so, it seems to me been a tendency in that direction. The college is secular, as stated in a preceding article, and no argument should be used in favor of its support and maintenance and important 'distinctions. Our purpose in this article is to deal with methods of doing the work the church is commanded to do.

The church at Austin is conducting what is designated as a "Bible Chair." This is simply the work of teaching the Bible to the students who attend the University of Texas. The elders at Austin have simply employed the services of an efficient teacher of the Bible to do this work, just as they would employ a capable preacher to help them in a protracted meeting. The church is at work. No other organization is known. The elders of the church are the "board of control" over this Bible chair. The same is true in the meeting house on Sunday, and every where opportunity affords. Some say this is "Sunday School." The truth is, that it is the members of the church doing what God has commanded, namely, teaching the Bible. The work is under the supervision of the elders. No organization other than the local congregation is needed.

The church at Canadian, Texas, is conducting an orphan's home, in an effort to care for the orphan children who have fallen into their hands. They have not organized and chartered a "board of control" in doing this work. The elders of the church at Canadian are the "board of control" and the property is deeded to that local congregation just as their meeting house is deeded. The church is at work under the supervision of its elders. No other organization is needed. We can unscripturally organize "Orphan Homes" and "Old People's Homes" to visit the fatherless and widows" to the same extent that a missionary society is organized also to "preach the word." We have as much authority to organize a missionary society to "preach the word" as we have to organize a human "board of control" to care for the aged and orphans. The church is able to do what God has commanded without human machinery. Any organization larger or smaller than the local congregation is an unscriptural organization to do the work the church is commanded to do.

But how may Christians and churches co-operate? Simply as they did in the New Testament. "And the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren which dwelt in Judea; which also they did, sending to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 11:29, 30). Here is an instance where brethren co-operated in a work too large for one congregation. You will note that they sent their contribution to the "elders" where the needed work was being done. By this plan the church at Austin conducts its Bible Chair and by the same plan the church at Canadian conducts its orphanage. Who can say nay? If it is right then why not thus proceed and cease to "organize" human "boards" and "societies" to do the work God has commanded his church to do.

I am opposed to this "organization movement" among Christians and I shall proclaim with tongue and pen that the church of the Lord without the aid of human machinery, can teach the Bible, in classes on Sunday, or any other time and place when and where opportunity affords; care for an orphan and aged, hold protracted meetings, and send the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth. It is the only divine agency, through which Christians alone can render acceptable service to the Lord.

"I love thy church 0, God,

Her walls before thee stand,

Dear as the apple of thine eye,

Engraven in thy hand."

To him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus unto all generations for ever and ever" (Eph. 3:21). — Foy E. Wallace, Jr. — Firm Foundation, August 1922, reprinted in Firm Foundation April 10, 1934.