Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 21, 1963
NUMBER 45, PAGE 8-9,13b

"Things New And Old"

Charles A. Holt, 4682 University Drive, Wichita Falls, Texas

(Editor's note: We need a new caption for brother Holt's bi-weekly column. Do you have a suggestion? Brother Clyde O. Moore is going to handle the weekly task of "news," and brother Holt will deal less with news and more with "views." Hence his "News and Views" caption, under which he has been writing, needs to be revised a bit. Jesus said, "Therefore every scribe who hath been made a disciple to the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is a householder, who bringeth forth out of his treasure things new and old." If you can come up with something better than the "Things New — And Old" of today's page, let us hear from you. Thanks. — F.Y.T.)

Personal Notes

Have you seen a copy of Sound Doctrine, the new monthly publication of the Rose Avenue church in Bellflower, California? The first copy came out in January and it really looks neat; and the material is good and well-written. David Harkrider, 10038 Rose Avenue, is the editor of the paper; as well as the preacher at Rose Avenue. I presume that it is free to all who desire it... I am scheduled to assist the Castleberry church, in Fort Worth, in a series of meetings, March 11-17. Harold Fite is the preacher... The Westside church, here in Wichita Falls, recently had a five-night meeting using a different speaker each night. It was a very profitable meeting and we had some excellent lessons. The speakers were: Harold Fite, Jack L. Holt, Glenn L. Shaver, Ward Hogland, and R. L. Bums. The Westside church continues to make growth in every good way. We would be happy to have any of you visit with us... I recently attended one night of the meeting in Denton, Texas, in which Bryan Vinson, Sr., did the preaching. A large crowd — for that place — was present; and Vinson presented a splendid lesson on "Fellowship." While the lesson was needed and in order, it was more or less instigated on this occasion by some questions that Leroy Garrett (he now lives in Denton and teaches in a college there) had asked. Garrett was there to hear the lesson. It was a very fine lesson and set forth the principles governing this badly misunderstood and abused subject. Vinson did a fine job with it. He is an able student of God's Word. He is now spending most of his time in meetings and he should be kept busy doing just that. In case some church needs him and cannot properly support him, it is likely that arrangements for him to come can be made anyway. His address is Box 784, Longview, Texas.

It would be good to see some articles from Vinson on the subject of "Fellowship." There are many divergent and conflicting views on this subject. Some, like Leroy Garrett, believe that they can have fellowship with any one in almost any sincere religious practice, just so the people have believed one fact — that Jesus is the Christ; and have obeyed one command — been baptized in the name of Christ. Others there are who hold that nearly absolute conformity in all areas of belief is essential to having fellowship with others in anything both believe to be right. Is conformity — "seeing eye to eye" — in all areas of belief and teaching necessary to having fellowship with another? Fellowship is often taken to mean mere recognition of someone as a faithful or sound person; and this recognition is often based upon the fact that "he agrees with me" in some special and important (to me, anyway) fields of teaching and/or practice. In view of the situation in and among the churches of today, it is highly important that some calm, serious, and studious thought be given to this important matter... in February (4-10) I assisted the Pleasant Valley church in Amarillo, Texas, in a series of meetings. In spite of a lot of sickness, the attendance was very good. This was due in a large measure to the help given by members of the Olsen Park church in the city, and members of the churches in Dumas, Pampa, and Borger. Pleasant Valley has a good name as a tower of strength in that section. The work there seems to be going along in a good way. Paul Lusby is the preacher; and he is now in his eleventh year with this church. This time together speaks well for both him and the church; and it will be a better day for all the churches when they learn that a "new face" every two or three years is not a necessity to the church's making the right kind of progress; in fact, it may well be a hindrance and detriment.

On Changing Preachers

Speaking of the constant and continual changes (in location) being made by preachers (often shuffled around like a deck of cards), in all too many instances a preacher moves to some other place before he really gets well acquainted with the people and situation where he is. It may well be that some brethren want it this way; that is, they do not really want him to get acquainted for fear of what he will find out and maybe for fear of what he will try to do about it. In seeking to justify a preacher change, one person was heard to say: 'Well, you know that a new broom sweeps clean." A very proper rejoinder was forthcoming: "Yes, but the old broom knows where the dirt is." So the all-too often practice is that when the "old broom" finds out where the "dirt" is, especially if there seems to be any indication that the "old broom" will attempt to remove it, it is always time for a change of preachers — for the good of the church, of course!

It is true that sometimes the "old broom" can find out where the dirt is, but there is the desire on the part of the "old broom" that his services be retained (at least, until there is sufficient time to arrange to become the "new broom" someplace else!), hence, there is an overlooking of or a refusal to deal with the dirt. Of course, such "wise" and "prudent" action can be justified on the basis that it is the psychological and best way to handle 'the situation. The fact that to ignore "dirt" for fear of having to make a change (the term is "fired" for those who talk in plainer terms!) is a compromise and a mark of a hireling never seems to bother some men. What "old broom" (or "new broom" either) wants to bear the stigma of being "fired" for trying to "sweep up" and "remove some dirt"? A few "brooms" have never even as much as seen any "dirt" in all the places that they have been! One cannot help but wonder just why; and what is wrong with the "sweeping" (preaching) done! Some of this "dirt" may be old and dried hard and fast; so much so that people have actually reached the place where they have come to accept it — look upon it as a part of things ("You know how human nature isi") and they often give sympathy, if not outright support, to the "dirt" when someone seeks to "sweep it up" or even disturb it.

Are there any hirelings in our day? In the "conservative churches"? Of course, none of us would dare admit to being such (did one ever admit to it?), but who is so foolish as to deny that the practice is still with us. Does a preacher's moving to another place just before he gets "fired" (the axe falls), indicate that such a practice is with us? Surely something is wrong. Indeed it is true that some preachers should be "fired"; and some should never be "hired." Preachers can well be the cause of trouble or even be the "dirt" themselves! True enough this is, but it does not explain, certainly not justify, the great "turn-over" of preachers that goes on nearly all the time By changing preachers every two years, more or less, a lot of "dirt" is never found nor disturbed, to say nothing of being removed. It is no joy to have to deal with "dirt" (an unholy situation or sinful condition), and some seemingly have a horror of having to do so — and they do not, for fear that they might get some "dirt" on themselves and mar a spotless reputation! Preachers can often avoid having to deal with sin by moving every two years, more or less. It takes about that long for a "new broom" (one really aware of its task to "sweep") to become an "old broom" and really learn where the sin is. Another way to avoid having to really deal with such a problem, and, of course, thereby maintain a spotless record of having never had any "trouble", and certainly having never been "fired" (what a revolting thought!), is to keep aloof from things' Never look down or around in the corners or under the rug. Be certain that the preaching is not too specific; and definitely not the kind that will create unrest, disturb, or "turn the world upside down." It must not be the kind of preaching that will either remove the sin or the preacher! Be aloof from the problems in the church and deal in theories and abstract generalities. Never make direct application. Surely one must preach against sin, and even name it now and then (if none are present whom it might offend!); but be smart and "wise" enough to so word and express it that it will not disturb or upset anybody. This is diplomacy (9) and wisdom (?) that many of the lesser-lights and blundering preachers have never learned; hence, they have troubles and may even get "fired." If the church is "dead," be sure not to make any pointed or determined effort to "resurrect" it (just think how peaceful things are!), for "dirt" can really fly when someone tries to "raise the dead." "Let the elders handle all the problems," for remember that the preacher' is not "the pastor," or even one of them! It is even remotely possible that in some few isolated instances the "elders" (one or more of them; or, even one of the wives!), may be the problem; but by diplomacy (ignoring this fact), and the exercise of tact (side-stepping dealing with the matter), peace may be maintained.

A preacher was once invited to come work with a church in a certain area. He was assured over and over again that there was absolutely "no friction" in the congregation. This seemed almost too good to be true — sounds like "heaven on earth" — and the preacher could hardly wait to get there to work with such a people. When asked about it later he reported that the appraisal he had received was absolutely correct! There was "no friction" in that church whatever — there wasn't a "moving part" in the entire group! No, there is no "friction" where there is no "life" — where the church is cold, lifeless, and dead; and no effort is made to "revive" such. As long as there is activity there is always the possibility of "friction." And as long as the church is made up of people there will be problems of one kind or the other and of lesser or greater magnitude.

I once heard a preacher brag about the fact that he had been preaching for twenty-eight years and had never had any trouble or rifts where he had been; he had a "spotless" record! He was asked about it, just how had he accomplished such a thing. He was quite elaborate in explaining about how diplomatic, tactful and adaptable the preacher should be in order to get along with people. He also stressed the fact that "the preacher doesn't run the church; and his job is simply to teach (without offence, of course) and help promote activities." In putting together what he said, the idea was left that he found out who "ran the church" and he just joined in with them! Join with and back the one, or ones, who "carry the big stick!"

It has been well said that "changing preachers never really settle any problem." It may change the location of the problem — if the preacher be it; but it does not correct it. In our day, with the system of more or less professional clergymen, the preacher is dispensable — let him be the "scapegoat" — change preachers! Preachers go along with it — they dare not fight nor oppose a "system" of which they are a part; and facing the ostracism, boycott, and viciousness of the "clergymen" and people alike — is more than most are willing to tackle. The "course of least resistance" — move on, brother! — is too inviting. This situation is not regarded seriously and apparently there is a determined effort on the part of all to ignore it completely. It has even reached the place where it is treated with frivolity and jokes are made about it. "He moved just before they fired him." "I need a place to move in a hurry; I am about to get the axe!" "I am interested in making a change in the near future as my usefulness (which often means that I cannot ignore the dirt any longer and I will get fired if I try to set things in order) here is finished." "I have tendered my resignation here, and am interested in making a change by the time school is out." On and on such could go and perhaps even to more ridiculous ideas involved in this modern practice of changing preachers! This is the usual course pursued. Why? Why not "change" elders? Why not "change" members? This situation needs some sober study on the part of all godly people. Cheap "politics" by preachers and churches is so common as to be almost the rule. What a pity! Of even greater pity is the fact that WE go along with such (as it gets worse and more pronounced), and seemingly are not interested in trying to find out what is wrong; what the Scriptures teach; and how to apply that remedy. May God help us!

"HAWAII'S CALL ANSWERED — Ben M. Shropshire All who are interested in the preaching of the gospel and in the enlarging of the kingdom will be happy to learn of the beginning of another congregation in our fiftieth state. On Sunday, January 20th, a new congregation was established and began meeting in Pearl City on the island of Oahu.

In the November 1st issue of The Gospel Guardian there appeared an article written by me entitled "Hawaii Calls" in which I presented the needs here in the state of Hawaii for the establishment of another congregation and for the preaching of the truth concerning the work and organization of the local congregation. In the article I also appealed for financial Assistance from faithful brethren and congregations to take care of my moving expenses and monthly support that I might help to satisfy this need. This appeal met with a wonderful response so that more than enough money was raised for my moving expenses. I am now here and at work, and all of my monthly support is promised. For this I am humbly grateful.

For our services on the third Sunday of our existence as a congregation, there were 44 people present for the morning assembly and 33 for the evening service. It appears that our contribution will average better than $60.00 per week. Already we have obtained the use of a building in a good part of town which is more than adequate for our needs at present. A mimeograph machine has been purchased and we have put out one issue of a bulletin — "The Exhorter" — which has been mailed to nearly all Christians in Hawaii. We are preparing now to begin several home Bible studies as a means of evangelism. We intend to do all that we can to reach the people of this island with the "truth that makes men free" and to educate the members of the church over here concerning the problems now confronting the brotherhood. One fact which speaks well for the new congregation's future is that half of its membership is made up of local and permanent residents of this state. This is a real asset.

It was decided to begin the congregation in Pearl City since it is centrally located in reference to the populated areas of the island and in view of the fact of its proximity to all of those who made up the church at its beginning.

When you are in Hawaii we would be happy to have you worship with us, or if you know of any Christians (especially those in the military services) whom you would like us to contact, please send us their names and addresses and we'll do our best. We'll likewise be grateful for the prayers of the faithful on our behalf. You will find our regular listing on the "Where To Worship When Traveling" page in the Gospel Guardian, just in case you misplace this particular issue. If you want to phone, the number is 403-338.

— P. O. Box 322, Pearl City, Hawaii