Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 2, 1967
NUMBER 26, PAGE 4-5a

In Spite Of, Not Because Of


Have you seen those figures floating around in many of the papers and journals these last few months — the figures that indicate the "Churches of Christ" are by all odds "the fastest growing religious body in America." We copy these figures from a column by Louis Cassels, religious news editor for United Press International. Mr. Cassels says that the Churches of Christ showed a gain of 135% from 1950-1965, increasing from a membership of 1,000,000 to 2,350,000. This was more than double the rate of growth for the Mormons, next fastest growing group, who showed only a 61% gain during these fifteen years. The Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod, ran the Mormons a close second with a 60% gain. The average for all Protestant bodies was 31%. The Catholics gained 37%.

Now, those figures may, or may not, be somewhere near the truth. Our brethren who supply the various Year-books and encyclopedias with the information they print have never suffered from any noticeable feelings of inferiority in setting forth their claims as to growth. One wonders how they arrive at their figures. We would think they could be no more than calculated guesses. But that's not what we want to write about. There is something else in this picture.

We have heard certain of our more liberal brethren boast that the "great growth!" among the Churches of Christ is due to the great number of institutions, projects, campaigns, promotions, schools, orphanages, old folks' homes, hospitals, summer camps, Korean cows, pregnant girls' homes, carpenter's houses, campus ministries , and inner city missions which have sprung up like mushrooms these last few years, And we have heard certain conservative brethren excuse their lack of growth on the absence of such projects.


If anybody takes the time and trouble to keep up with the papers and bulletins that are published over the brotherhood, it doesn't take long to see that our liberal brethren are growing IN SPITE OF THEIR PROJECTS, not because of them! The real power is in the simple gospel of Christ; not in promotions, societies, and institutional devices. And there is a zeal, an emphasis on "personal work" among all the liberal congregations which is all too rare, and often almost totally absent, among the conservative brethren.

That's the reason for the growth — personal evangelism; person-to-person contact; day by day teaching! We believe if the conservative brethren showed the same zeal and fervor in this area as do our liberal brethren, our rate of growth would far, far outstrip the 135% that United Press International stated for all the "Churches of Christ." For people are hungering for the simple truth — not for institutions and societies and agencies and projects. One significant item in the United Press Report was that those churches which are "less institutionalized" and place greater emphasis on personal involvement of the members in making converts were rapidly forging ahead of the "more institutionalized" churches. People are not converted to Christ because of the Herald of Truth and a long array of big promotions and campaigns. They are converted IN SPITE OF THESE THINGS!

What a tragedy it is that those Christians who are in the best spot in the world to win men to Christ (offering no inducement, no enticement except the saving power of the gospel) all too often tend to whine and lament and look upon themselves "as grasshoppers", and excuse themselves for indolence and inaction, because "we have nothing to draw people!" How tragic — and how stupid! We have the greatest thing on earth, the simple gospel of Christ, without addition or subtraction. This is the thing that wins men; this is the incentive, the influence that brings them to Christ. Our trouble is that we have NOT taken the time and made the effort to bring that gospel to men. We have waited for them to come to the church building to hear it.

Just as a simple test, and being perfectly honest with yourself; How many people have YOU, faithful Christian who reads this page — how many people have YOU personally and individually converted to Christ within the past year? Don't tell us how many have been baptized at the congregation where you attend; that is not the question. Maybe there have been fifty or a hundred baptized into Christ there. But how many of them did YOU win from darkness to light, from the power of Satan to God? That is what we are asking!

This very thing is the urgent, compelling drive behind the production of IMPAC, the exciting and heart-stirring new development in the field of personal evangelism. Because brethren were concerned about it, because they recognized the lethargy and ineffectiveness of MOST Christians in this type of teaching, and because, above all else, they had unlimited faith in the power of the simple GOSPEL to draw men, they sought diligently to find some way to bring the first century methods into focus on twentieth century people. And the results give promise of being one of the most significant "break-through" in many generations in the task of getting individual Christians INVOLVED in this business of soul-saving.

Let no one deceive himself as to the reason our liberal brethren are growing. It is not because of their campaigns and promotions, but in spite of them. The "less institutionalized" a church is, the greater its power to reach the hearts and lives of men who are "hungering and thirsting after righteousness."

F. Y. T.