Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
October 18, 1956

May Churches Cooperate?

Ralph Edmunson, Grinnell, Iowa

There still seems to be quite a bit of confusion concerning the cooperation of churches in a scriptural way. It appears to this scribe that all the confusion would be banished if brethren would stop and see that it is not the fact of cooperation, but the how or the arrangement that is under discussion.

It is not whether churches can or can not cooperate. The question is whether these arrangements that are being used by the "sponsoring church" advocates are right. If one questions these modern arrangements, he is charged with not believing in church cooperation.

These Churches Cooperate

Some time ago, when I read of the need of the church in Grinnell, Iowa, (they needed a preacher, but could not fully support one) I immediately began to make plans to come to this city. After setting the date when I could move, I then contacted several churches where I was known, and asked if they would "cooperate" with one another and with the church in Grinnell in helping support the gospel in that "mission" field.

The churches contacted are so small that no one of them could give full support to a "missionary" in addition to their home responsibilities. But was there any possible way by which they could "cooperate" in such support, each church supplying what it could? Brethren who endorse the modern "sponsoring church" type of cooperative work would say that the way for these small churches to do such work is to select some "sponsor" somewhere, and make all their contributions to the "sponsor."

Plano and Wolfe City, Texas, are cooperating with the church in Grinnell, Iowa, not through some "sponsor," but by sending their contributions directly to the place where the need is.

Who Sponsors This?

Does that make Grinnell congregation the "sponsoring" church? Is Plana? Is Wolfe City? None of these churches is sponsoring this work. Grinnell needs help; the other churches are supplying that help. And Grinnell manages her own affairs, and does not "sponsor" any work for other churches. I am not sponsored. My family and I are members of the 'Grinnell congregation. Can small churches "cooperate" in the preaching of the gospel without going through some central "clearing-house"? These churches are.

What About Radio?

If there were a radio station in Grinnell, then I would advocate that churches could cooperate in preaching the gospel over this station. What would be the difference in this (if we had such) and the Herald of Truth? Just this: the local program, if we had one, would be designed to build up the church that is weak (Grinnell), and to help establish the cause in this city. Herald of Truth is not designed to build up any "weak" church in Abilene, but rather is designed to "preach the gospel to the world." The difference lies in the design, the motive, the purpose, the situation. If Grinnell were strong enough to support her own work, it would be wrong for her to take monies from other churches in order to pass those funds on to other weak churches in Iowa. Let these weak churches receive directly from those who wish to help.

This is not an appeal for help, even though we could use some help. (I am working in a newspaper shop to make it possible for me to remain in this field.) This is simply an effort to show that churches CAN cooperate, and to point out an example of some who ARE cooperating in a scriptural way.