Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 23, 1950
NUMBER 29, PAGE 4-5a

The Lubbock Plan


Surely every Christian rejoices in the good accomplished by the Broadway Church in Lubbock, Texas, these last few years in the emphasis placed on worldwide evangelization. Her elders are to be commended for their zeal and enthusiasm in trying to reach out into hitherto untouched fields. We have nothing but praise for their indefatigable efforts in trying to arouse their own members as well as Christians generally to meet the challenge of a world that is largely without Christ, All honor and all credit to them for every scriptural thing done to interest brethren everywhere in this great work!

We do not suppose that even the most ardent supporter of Broadway's program would claim that no mistakes have been made. Certainly her elders have made no such claim. In a work of the magnitude they have undertaken some mistakes are simply inevitable. But we have never believed, nor do we now believe, that Broadway's elders would do one single thing they knew to be a violation of scripture. Whatever errors and mistakes have been made, or may yet be made, can be credited to the head rather, than the heart; they are mistakes of judgment and understanding rather than of motive and desire.

Because we have this view of these good brethren, we recently pointed out what seems to us to be the most dangerous and deadly departure from New Testament principles which we have yet seen in any mission work, Whatever mistakes may have been made in the past pale into insignificance in comparison with this evil, In this editorial today and in the one to follow next week we desire to explain what this mistake is and why we think it is so dangerous. We write both editorials with the fervent prayer that brethren everywhere will re-think this "Lubbock Plan," and will draw back from a course having such fatal implications.

The Background

In undertaking the work in Germany, the Broadway elders obligated themselves far, far beyond the ability of the Broadway Church to fulfill or accomplish. Perhaps if Germany had been their only work they might have been able to supply the need there; but with the necessity of their own building program at home, and with some commitments to other work elsewhere, they simply over-reached themselves. It may be that their intense enthusiasm led them to such a course; or perhaps they knowingly and deliberately planned it this way, expecting to be able to persuade other congregations to come to their assistance. At any rate, whether advisedly or unadvisedly, it seems perfectly evident that in the undertaking in Frankfurt, the Broadway brethren "bit off more than they can chew." The Frankfurt church desperately needs a house.

Broadway alone is not able to supply it; neither can she supply it with the help of the Frankfurt brethren and the help of the few American churches who are supporting workers in Frankfurt.

In order to meet this need, the Broadway elders have brought Otis Gatewood, their preacher in Frankfurt, back to the states that he may go into every part of the nation to seek help for Frankfurt. They have a perfect right to do that. Indeed, it would seem that that is the logical and proper thing to do under the circumstances.

The Objectionable Feature

But here is where we think the deadly error comes in: instead of having brother Gatewood go to the various churches and ask their elders for support for the Frankfurt work, Broadway is promoting a series of great "regional mass meetings" throughout the nation, seeking to enlist thousands and thousands of people to become regular monthly contributors to the Broadway program, sending their money as individuals to Broadway Church for use in the German work.

A few weeks ago, when we had a very long and earnest talk with brother Paul Sherrod (an elder in Broadway), we tried to point out to him that these "regional mass meetings" with their appeal for individual contributions were exactly the basis on which the Missionary Societies started in Texas some seventy years ago. We pleaded with him to have brother Gatewood go to the various elderships over the nation and seek support for the Frankfurt work.

We got nowhere at all in our plea. Our conversation was on the most cordial and brotherly basis. No one who knows Paul Sherrod can doubt his sincerity; but he was absolutely adamant in his conviction that Broadway was within her rights in soliciting contributions from individuals who are members of other churches—and that this plan would bring in much more money than an appeal to the various elderships. For, as he said, "so many elderships are without vision and without interest in preaching the gospel in foreign fields." Thus, the very basis of the "Lubbock Plan" is a contemptuous attitude toward the elders of the churches! It assumes that many elderships will not support the Frankfurt work, and so an efforts will be made to circumvent, elude, and go around them and get into their various flocks on an individual basis!

"Committing Suicide"

In our conversation with brother Sherrod, we were warned that we were "committing suicide" by raising a word of protest and warning against some of the methods being used in these various mission endeavors. We were told that our opposition was like a man deliberately stepping on the tracks in front of a thundering locomotive bearing down upon him, trying to pit his feeble and puny strength against the mighty machine; that churches would close their pulpits to us, and that we'd have nobody to blame but ourselves when that happened!

Somehow, we didn't get excited at the dire prediction. While we have no particular yearning for "suicide," yet if the choice is between such "suicide" on the one hand and keeping our silence when a principle of truth is being compromised on the other, we have only one comment to make: "Pass the hemlock, please!" We will not keep silence when we think the Israel of God is being jeopardized. We may be mistaken in our analysis of the problem, and if so, are ready to be corrected; but, believing as we do, we will have our say even if it has to be from a soap-box on the street corner to preach our convictions —locomotives, closed pulpits, Suicides, and hell notwithstanding! And our conviction is that the Broadway elders, with motives of the purest and highest, have nevertheless embarked upon a scheme that is absolutely destructive to the New Testament principles of church equality and independency. And for whatever our influence is worth, it is going to be used to persuade brethren not to participate in such a scheme. We are going to write about it through the pages of the Guardian; we will oppose it publicly from the pulpits where we preach (there are a few still open to us!); we will oppose it in private conversations with preachers, elders, members; we will write letters about it; we will try to get others to oppose it.

And every single day we will pray (as is our wont) that God may bless the work in Germany, that churches all over America may be stirred to renewed missionary zeal, and that the gospel may be preached and New Testament churches established in every nation under heaven.

Next week we want to give a more detailed study of the "Lubbock Plan" and show exactly in what particulars we believe it contravenes New Testament teaching.