Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 31, 1955
NUMBER 46, PAGE 1,10b

Ways And Means Of Doing Mission Work

C. E. W. Dorris, Nashville, Tennessee

Recently, Brother John H. Banister favored us with three articles on the above subject in the Gospel Advocate. The kindly spirit he manifested is commendable indeed. He says many good things that no well informed man will gainsay. Among them is the following.

"We must remember, however, that controversy among brethren is beneficial, if it is conducted on a high plane and in the spirit of Christ. If brotherly love prevails, if we are actuated by a sincere desire to know the truth, a discussion of this important subject is profitable and should be edifying. Discussion of differences among brethren is one of the best ways by which we learn truth and discover error."

Exactly so, and it was by discussion of differences between brethren, that our predecessors held back the on rushing tide of societyism from making rapid progress in the South. And it will be by discussion that all other error will be defeated. By all means let us have honorable discussions of our differences. They are profitable. But let us discuss issues and not character. Truth is cleared by fair and honorable discussion, but when covered up by mud-slinging, it has a bad effect.

Our worthy brother continues thus:

"If, and when, we receive criticism of what we are doing, let us not contemptuously brush it aside as the fulmination of fanatics, but calmly and dispassionately weigh it in the light of the New Testament."

This is good advice. Let us speak of our opponents as brethren, not as "fanatics" and "quibblers."

In our discussions, let us keep the issue clear, and discuss the issue, and not something else. There are two methods of cooperation practiced by brethren. Namely, direct and indirect. The direct method is where churches send support directly to the preacher in the field. The indirect method is where churches send money to the preacher through a sponsoring church, or as Brother Banister calls it "the receiving church." All admit that the direct method is scriptural and, therefore, there is no issue over this method. But all do not admit that the indirect method is scriptural, and here is the heart of the issue and the battlefield. Our worthy brother accepts both methods. He cites Philippians 4:15, 16 as proof of the direct method. Here we are in perfect agreement.

Speaking of several congregations supporting the same preacher in mission work, our esteemed brother says:

"Each congregation can, if it so chooses, send its contribution to another one of the participating churches. This receiving congregation can forward the funds, received from the other churches, to the preacher in the field."

Here we have the issue between Brother Banister and myself, given in his own way. It's over the indirect method — his "receiving congregation" or church. One very noticeable thing in this connection, is our brother fails to produce one passage of scripture to prove that his "receiving church" is scriptural. Wonder why? He introduced the scripture where the direct method is found, but not one for the indirect method. The method needing proof failed to get any.

Our good brother points out some pitfalls or "dangers" in church cooperation to which we invite special attention, and to one in particular. He says:

"Congregational cooperation may well lead, in some cases, to centralized control and oversight as some brethren fear. This particular danger may have been exaggerated, yet it is, nevertheless, real! We should face it and not ignore it."

The indirect congregational cooperation, may not only "well lead" to "centralized control and oversight," but it has actually done so. Not only has it done this, but it has also created a centralized power that God never granted to any one church. It has created a general fund for missionary work, for which there is no New Testament authority.

Our brother continues thus:

"In cooperating, congregations should lean over backward, as it were, to see that they do not infringe upon one another's authority."

Good advice indeed. But, why should congregations put themselves in a position, that it becomes necessary to "lean over backward," in order to stay out of something that they have no business of being in? New Testament churches never had to "lean over backward" in order to stay out of unscriptural things for the reason that they followed the teaching of inspired men. If churches today would follow the same inspired teaching, they too, would not have to "lean over backward" to keep out of pitfalls and "dangers." To stay out of pitfalls and "dangers" we must keep our feet on solid ground. The solid ground upon which we must stand is the truth of God. "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32.) We must do things like God wants them done.

Brother Banister says:

"Every thing we do in the church has some potential danger connected with it. Prayer can be a dangerous thing if not done scripturally."

Brother, that's the keynote to success or failure. The way in which a right thing is done, determines the right or the wrong connected with the thing done. Man, not God, does the work in this case. Therefore, man is responsible for the right and the wrong. The "potential danger" centers in man doing the right thing in the wrong way. There can be no "danger" when man does the right thing in the right way. The "danger" arises in doing the right thing in the wrong way. Anything not done scripturally is done in the wrong way. A man's prayer becomes "dangerous" only when "not done scripturally." There is no "danger," and can be none, so long as men do the work scripturally. But the moment they depart from the scriptural way of doing the work, that moment they begin doing it the wrong way, and create all the wrong and contention connected with the work. It is just as important to do the Lord's work in the right way, as it is to do the work. When we do His work in the right way, we please Him. But, when we do it in the wrong way, we displease Him.

Will Brother Banister produce the passage of scripture authorizing "contributing churches" to send their money to a "receiving congregation," and that congregation forwarding it to the preacher? Which one of the congregations supporting Paul, became a "receiving congregation"? An answer to these questions will throw some light on the subject.

I recommend the brother's good advice given at the close of his series of articles, which is: "Let us find those areas of common ground, let us all faithfully stand as a united, zealous and happy brotherhood of Christians." This will be easy to do if all will locate that "common ground" and stand on it. I hope Brother Banister will join me in locating it.