Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 27, 1967

What Others Are Doing

Sewell Hall

Dear________, Thanks for your letter inquiring about activities of those churches standing opposed to institutionalism. The charge is indeed often made that they are doing nothing. This is because they have no institutions to which to point, no centralized campaigns of which to boast, and because much of what they do is done individually and never appears in any financial report. But the charge is false and should be corrected.

Though these churches as a rule are quick to meet such emergencies as those met by New Testament churches in the realm of benevolence, the emphasis has been on evangelism and edification. Many are doing a remarkable work along this line. I mentioned in a recent bulletin the Pruett and Lobit church in Baytown, Texas which with fewer than 300 members is spending more than $2500 per month in evangelism. This is one of many.

The South Houston Church with a Sunday morning attendance of about 200 is spending $1250 per month, $700 of that outside the U.S. A.

Several churches in the Birmingham area are outstanding. The 77th St. Church will this year spend over $35, 000 in evangelism away from home. They are supplying full salaries for four preachers beside their own, three of them outside the U.S.A. They have 300 members.

The Hueytown, Alabama church sent its preacher, Robert Bunting, to New Jersey in 1946 to start a church in a completely virgin area. They have supplied all his expenses and a growing church is now firmly planted there and is beginning to assume Brother Bunting's support. Brother Robert Harkrider who followed Bunting at Hueytown, is now in the Pacific enroute to Australia, salary and all expenses being supplied by Hueytown. With a membership of less than 200, they will spend nearly $30,000 this year in evangelism, much of it outside this country.

Franklin Road in Nashville with around 300 members spent $33,765 in evangelism away from home last year. Eastland and Riverside Drive in Nashville also are very active in such work but I do not have figures available on what they are doing.

The Locust Street Church in Mount Pleasant, Tennessee is spending a total of $915 each month away from home this year in preaching Christ.

It is sometimes said that all their "mission work" is just supporting factions where old churches already exist. It is a fact that stronger churches have had to help brethren who have been disfellowshipped or have nothing of which to be ashamed. Such brethren need our assistance and our encouragement and deserve it. I rejoice to see almost weekly reports of new congregations being established - congregations that are building modest yet respectable meeting houses and concentrating on saving lost souls rather than furnishing social and recreational services to the communities. But it is not true that all of the work is of this type.

Perhaps you noted that the congregations mentioned above are all doing work overseas. Of $640 per month that Eastside is spending in evangelism away from home $510 is being sent outside the U. S. In fact, on every continent there are gospel preachers who oppose the institutions and they are supported by churches of like mind. In several foreign countries, the pioneer work has been done by such men.

I am thinking as I write of many other churches which are doing as much or more in proportion to their ability as the churches I have mentioned. I just happened to have the figures for the above at hand.

Of course, figures such as these prove nothing as to the right and wrong of a proposition. When division first came between the Christian churches and churches of Christ, about all that was being done in spreading the gospel to new places, especially foreign countries, was being done by the churches supporting the missionary society. But that did not prove the society right. The New Testament reveals God's plan and it is always the right one. If it is not worked, it is the fault of the people - not the fault of the plan.

But the churches that are remaining with the Lord's plan are working. And they are getting the job done without all the overhead expenses and expensive publicity involved in the centralized efforts. Scores of radio broadcasts are being conducted across the country without any of the office expense, advertising fees, etc. that the Herald of Truth requires in such quantity. And what is being spent is going directly into preaching the gospel rather than into social projects that may benefit people in this life but can do nothing for them in eternity.

I hope these facts will be helpful to you.

Sewell Hall