Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
September 22, 1955
NUMBER 20, PAGE 1,11b

Some Things To Think About

C. E. W. Dorris, Nashville, Tennessee

1. The early churches recommended and separated their preachers unto the mission field. (Acts 13:1-3; 14:26; 15:40.)

2. Churches sent the preachers to the work. (Acts 11:28; 13:1-5.)

3. Churches received reports of work done by their missionaries. (Acts 14:27.)

4. Churches communicated directly with the laborer in the field. (Phil. 4:15, 16; I Thess. 1:7,8.)

The "sponsoring church" is a centralized money power, centralized wealth in religion, and robs the contributing churches of individual responsibility in the management of the Lord's money.

When congregations and individuals turn their offerings for mission work over to a sponsoring church, they can but feel a lessening of responsibility in the matter of looking after the fields and preachers. There is in such procedure a shifting of responsibility that destroys personal interest to a large extent in both field and preacher. When a church selects a field and employs a preacher to enter that field, there is an interest and sympathy between the church and preacher which cannot otherwise exist. Then let every contributing church to mission work communicate with the preacher, sending their support directly to him, as New Testament churches did. This will knock out the middle man, the sponsoring church) and bring the preacher and those supporting him in closer touch which begets a sympathetic interest. New Testament churches communicated directly with the preachers they supported. The sponsoring church cuts off this direct communication, and sets aside the scripture that teaches it. The sponsoring church is anti-scriptural, and is a substitution of man's wisdom for God's on the work of sustaining preachers.

It is not difficult to explain why churches persist in sending their missionary contributions direct to the missionaries instead of sending them to a central sponsoring church. They do it that way because the Churches of the New Testament under the guidance of inspired apostles, did it that way. There were no sponsoring churches in apostolic days, selecting the field, choosing the preacher, and handling other churches' money. This is a good reason why churches in those days did not send their money to sponsoring churches. However, the success of the plan in apostolic days does not seem to commend it to those who prefer a different method now-a-days. With those who are disposed to modern methods, the New Testament does not rank very high as an authority on plans of missionary work.

One good church ought to support a missionary. One church supported Paul. "When I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving, but ye only." (Phil. 4:15,16.) If churches and preachers will thus deal directly with each other in mission work in the genuine Pauline style and apostolic simplicity, there can easily be thousands of men at work in destitute places all the time without any parade about it in the papers. It is an incontrovertible fact that in dealing directly with the missionaries in the field, we are following the expression of divine wisdom, and are, therefore, infallibly safe.

The sponsoring church method violates the divine method of churches and preachers communicating with each other. The sponsoring church stands as the center and hub around which all contributing churches revolve, as planets around the sun, and through whose hopper preachers and money must be ground out. In the New Testament there is no centralization of power, no middle man or church standing between the contributor and the missionary, such as found in the sponsoring church. There is no divine authority to transfer to any one church what God committed to each and all churches. To do so is to impugn the wisdom of God and supersede his appointments with inventions of men. For one set of elders to appoint themselves to receive and disburse the funds and direct the labor for the churches is anti-scriptural. All agree that it is scriptural to send support direct to the laborers in the field. This shows that when men confine themselves to what is required in the scriptures, they can agree. It's when men claim the right to adopt something not required or approved by the scriptures that differences come in, and therefore, they are responsible for all the damage done. The Bible gives plain examples showing how work was done under the direction of God. God seldom gives a system or theory of work. He does a thing or directs it to be done, and leaves the example to be followed. God's example shows how the work was done in apostolic times and that it can, and ought to be done now the same way. The sponsoring church sets aside the order and provisions of God and substitutes an order and provision of man. This educates man to rely on his own wisdom rather than the wisdom and guidance of God.

One church receiving and directing the means contributed by other churches is anti-scriptural and therefore wrong. It takes the work out of the hands of those to whom God committed it and gives it to others. This can work only evil to all the parties to it. God commits work to his churches and his children, not because he needs the help of these, but because doing the work will strengthen and build up these, and give spiritual growth and activity to the churches and Christians. Each church should collect, control, and direct its own means, do what it can in preaching and having preaching done. They need this for their own growth and spirituality. A Christian cannot live and grow without working to save others. Each needs personal work in teaching and saving others to develop and save himself. Churches need the same exercise in working to save others to develop their own growth and activity.

No inspired man ever advised elders of one church to send out a man to induce the members of other churches to divert their means from their own church treasury, and to take it from the direction of their own elders, and place it under the elders of that one church. All such concentration of power is destructive of the activity and the true liberties of the church. It tends to exalt the elders of the one church and degrade and dishonor those of the other. Why are not the elders of one church as competent to direct the means of its members and its preachers as are the elders of another church to do it for them? The whole movement is an effort to concentrate in a few hands the control of the activities and means of the churches. All such courses are subversive to God's order.

The Lord's method of mission work is simple and plain and easily understood, and in this work no principle of the scripture's teaching is violated, no right of any Christian is trampled under foot, no special importance or power is given to any one. This is God's way and that ought to settle the question with every true child of God.

The scriptures furnish us unto all good works, and preaching the gospel stands pre-eminent as a good work. We boldly affirm and earnestly contend that the Bible contains a divine system of evangelism that was powerful enough to shake the Roman Empire in its day and perfect enough to carry the gospel to the ends of the earth; and we modestly submit that, putting that faith and system into practice, it will be just as effective in our day as it was in primitive times. Believing that all now engaged in mission fields can be sustained and more work be done in harmony with the examples of the apostles and inspired men, we come before you with brotherly love and beseech you in the name of our Lord that you abandon the sponsoring church method that found no necessity or recognition in apostolic times, and that you concentrate your zeal and energy in the divine method ordained of God, which we all admit to be common and scriptural ground; thereby removing a cause of wide-spread division and contention and bring about that union and cooperation in which there is strength and which will enable us to make more rapid conquest of the earth for Christ.