Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
August 6, 1953

Brief History Of The A.C.M.S.

E. L. Flannery, Cullman, Alabama

The American Christian Missionary Society was organized in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1849, with over 100 churches represented by 156 messengers to the convention. They came from eleven states. As stated by Brother Campbell in his previous writings about the convention, their purpose in organizing the A.C.M.S. was to set up "a more efficient organization" of the churches, it having been shown by "experience" that the simple "cooperative system" was "inefficient and inadequate." This had all been set forth by Campbell and others in the months preceding the convention. They all deplored the inactivity of the churches. But instead of arousing the individual congregations to a greater "missionary" effort, they created a new agency ("a more efficient organization," they thought) to do the mission work for the local congregations. They were organizational minded. They failed to see that the church itself is all the organization that is needed to do all the work God intends the church to do.

How Effective Was The A.C.M.S.?

In his book, "How the Disciples Began and Grew," M. M. Davis wrote in 1915, praising the A.C.M.S.: "Sixty two years have passed since the organization of the A.C.M.S., and she has demonstrated her right to live, as the following record shows: Churches established, about 4,000; persons baptized, about 200,000; money raised and disbursed, about $2,400,000." Let us examine this record. In 62 years the A.C.M.S. raised $2,400,000.00, which is approximately $38,709 per year. If only the original 100 churches continued to participate in the Society, that would be $387.09 per church each year. But surely at least half of the new congregations established (4,000 according to M. M. Davis) supported the Society. If 2,000 churches did give to the Society; they gave only $14.00 per church per year, or 27 cents per week! If Campbell could have foreseen this liberality (?), would he have thought it "adequate"?

In the first 62 years of the A.C.M.S., Davis says it established 4,000 congregations. He says 200,000 were baptized. This is an average of 3,225 baptisms per year. Now, we do not know how many congregations "joined" the Society to put forth this effort. Let us just take the 4,000 churches established, and, forgetting all about the original ones with which they started, or any others that may have later participated, let us divide the number baptized by the number of congregations which we know were involved. This will give us the number of souls baptized per year under the auspices of the A.C.M.S. — and it adds up the remarkable figure of four-fifths of one person per year for each participating church!

And this was the organization that was to eliminate the inefficiency and inadequacy of simple congregational enterprise! I wonder what Campbell would have thought of this 62 year record? M. M. Davis cites it as proof of the A.C.M.S.'s "right to live." The growth of the Christian Church over the years has been made by local meetings, by Sunday School work, by personal work, etc. The chief contribution made by the A.C.M.S. has been to sow the seeds of modernism and division; thus causing church splits, and gaining members for her own society in every such split. The Liberal Christian Church (publishing headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri) has completely drifted into denominationalism, calling Campbell the founder of her church, and even accepting into her membership what she calls "the pious unimmersed." In recent months in the state of Kentucky, the Christian Church voted to merge with the Northern Baptists. The seed of departure from God's word bears bitter fruit! Brother Campbell, in all good intentions, planted a seed (super church agency) that has an hundred year history of shame and strife.

The 1943 Record Of North Carolina

A few years ago I published an article in the Gospel Advocate dealing with the record made by the Missionary. Society in North Carolina in the year 1943. From this article I quote: "The white disciples, 214 congregations, membership of 35,020, gave $6,877.13 to the Missionary Society. Other sources gave it a grand total of $9,138.17 for 1943. The balance from 1942 was $3,365.85, leaving them with funds available, $12,504.02. Here is how the Society used the funds:

To the Secretary of N.C.M.S. (salary)
To miscellaneous, printing, pensions, and other fees
To evangelists on the field
Total spent
Balance unspent

It will be noticed that the Secretary, who did no preaching, received over half of all funds spent! The agency created to do mission work for the church gets over half the funds received just to maintain the organization! The white "disciples" gave about 26 cents each in 1943 for mission work, of which they spent only 18 cents. And of that 18 cents spent 10 cents went to the state secretary! (He personally handed me these reports.) Would the great Campbell have thought this more "efficient and adequate"?

In contrast to this, consider the work of just one congregation of simple Christians during this same year, 1943. The Chapel Avenue congregation, Nashville, Tennessee, gave $11,962.99 to mission work, and every dime of it reached the mission field! No secretaries, no organizational men. They simply put the check in an envelope, and mailed it to the evangelists on the field, or to the treasurer of the needy church. The members of Chapel Avenue in that year spent an average of $26.53 per member for mission work. The members of the. North Carolina Missionary Society spent an average of 18 cents per member! In brief, one church with 450 members raised and spent on mission work in that year $5,722.92 more than did the entire North Carolina Missionary Society with its 35,020 white members."

To use Campbell's expression, "Experience decides" that the Society has proved herself to be "inefficient and inadequate" in doing the Lords' work.