Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 7, 1957
NUMBER 27, PAGE 4-5b

The Church In Business


Earl Dale, Harlingen, Texas

In the July-August issue of the Sunny Glen Reporter, official publication of the Sunny Glen Home, San Benito, Texas, edited by Ralph Godfrey, Superintendent and Treasurer of the home, there appeared the following:

Crop Report

"The cotton crop fell short of our hopes. We had hoped we would make 11/2 bales per acre on the 41 acres we had planted. The final report on the crop shows 41 bales. Our profit, above picking and ginning, was almost exactly $6,00000.

"On ten acres planted in corn we made about 200 bushels of corn. This is short of our needs by about 100 bushels, We have a good supply of bundle feed and will get another cutting. Our pasture plots are in good condition.

"We are enjoying good milk, plenty of eggs, and excellent meat. We are supplied with a large part of our beef, pork, and chickens by the farm, Our cost of living is lowered considerably by this profitable farm operation."

Sunny Glen Home is a "brotherhood benevolent organization" between Harlingen and San Benito, Texas. The buildings were constructed by Churches of Christ, individual Christians, and unbelievers. The elders of the church in San Benito constitute the "Board of Directors." They hired Brother Ralph Godfrey as Superintendent and Treasurer, Brother O. C. Rushing, one of the board members, related to this writer: "We okay Brother Godfrey, and he runs it," The home was built and is maintained to care for children that "churches of Christ" and individual Christians" recommend and send. The income for buildings, and maintaining and operating the home comes from four sources: (a) churches of Christ, (b) individual Christians, (c) unbelievers, (d) the Church of Christ Farm at Sunny Glen. On that lovely farm the "church of Christ grass" feeds "church of Christ cows." These cows provide "church of Christ beef" and give church of

Christ milk." The "church of Christ hogs" provide "church of Christ ham and bacon." The "church of Christ cotton" brings in "church of Christ profits;" while "church of Christ hens" lay "church of Christ eggs," and "church of Christ roosters" crow proudly and the little "church of Christ" baby chicks give forth with a cheery, "peep-peep." This "profitable operation" of the "Church of Christ Farm" makes the cost of living much lower due to the "church of Christ profits."

Now with the "Crop Report" before us, and some idea of the organization and operation of Sunny Glen Home, let us make a few observations:

1. If a number of local congregations can scripturally build a "brotherhood benevolent institution," and cram it down the throats of the elders of the San Benito church for them to oversee as a "Board of Directors," and that Board can scripturally hire one man as Superintendent and Treasurer to operate a "churches of Christ Farm" for profit, so that they, through that means, can do a benevolent work for all the churches, then why can it not be done scripturally in other fields?

2. What, if anything, would be wrong in using the same set-up (that is, several churches operating a farm under one man, with the elders of one congregation serving as the "Farm Board" to oversee the project) in order to make profits by which to hire preachers and send them forth with the everlasting gospel of salvation to a lost and dying world? Is the work of benevolence more important than preaching the gospel? If one wanted to be malicious, one might charge: "If there are any `antis' to this proposal, then they do not believe in preaching the gospel. They will let the lost die and go to hell while they quibble over HOW to do it,"

3, Why not have "Church of Christ Clothing Store," Grocery Store, Bank, Barber Shop, Laundry, Drug Store, Church-burger Stand, Hardware Store, Garage, Automobile Agency, Railroad, Bus Line, Post Office, Stamps, Coins, State, Nation? Why not go all the way to Communism? This is one thing that everybody must concede: If churches of Christ can combine their funds, purchase, and operate a FARM for profit under a "Board" of elders of one congregation, then in exactly the same way they could operate all the other things here suggested. (Of course, we might have to get permission from Uncle Sam to have our own Post Office, Stamps, Coins, and nation. But once we had it going, we could organize a "Churches of Christ Police Force" to take care of some of the ungodly members. The Lord knows we need to do something with them!) Let him who thinks he can sustain the FARM by the scriptures, and at the same time deny the STORE, and other organizations, just try his hand at it.

It is high time for churches of Christ to quit competing with the business world and be simply "churches." There is not one command, approved example, or necessary inference in all of God's law to us that authorizes a plurality of churches combining their funds and placing them into the hands of one eldership to do ANY work to which all the contributing churches are equally related. Such "big ideas" spawned the Roman Catholic Church, the various organizations of the denominations, the Christian Church, the "sponsoring church," the "Herald of Truth," the "Brotherhood Benevolent Homes" and the late and unlamented Deaver-Warren "constituent element, component parts, total situation" hocus-pocus. (This frankenstein monster, ignoring and blithely tossing aside all relationship between the "component parts" has taken the prize for all the ridiculous arguments in defense of human innovations in this twentieth century.)

"Let the church be the church." The church is spoken of in two senses in the Bible: the local congregation composed of children of God meeting and working together in a given locality, and secondly, the church universal, composed of every member of God's family wherever he may be. If any organization exists larger than the local congregation, it is too large to be the congregation; if any working arrangement exists smaller than the church universal, it is to small to be the church universal. A combining of several congregations under the plan of a "sponsoring church" fits neither category — it is too large for a local congregation, too small for the church universal. It is a patch-work of human invention. Maybe we should call it the "Churches of Christ Cotton Patch."