Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
February 27, 1958
NUMBER 42, PAGE 2-3b

Ninety Years Later -- A Study Of Congregational Cooperation -- (No. 4)

Forrest Darrell Moyer, Napa, California

Editor's Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles transcribing a speech delivered by Brother Moyer.

C. The autonomy of the local church is the third of these fundamental principles. In 1 Peter 5:2 we read: "The elders which are among you I exhort . . . feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof . . ." This passage sustains the independence and autonomy of each local congregation. Look at this chart:

Chart Goes Here Specified Excluded

"Tend the flock of God 1. Any other congregation which is among you, 2. Planning and directing a part exercising the oversight... or all of the work of any other

1 Peter 5:2 congregation.

3. Any organization through which the

THEREFORE: church universal may function:

1) The independence and autonomy a. Missionary society 2) Planning and overseeing of b. Sponsoring church

work of the local congregation. C. Benevolent home 4. Any other organization than the church.

This is a specific statement: "Tend the flock of God.' Where? "Which is among you." That authorizes the elders to oversee the work of the local congregation, and I think all of us will agree. But what does it exclude?

1. It excludes their overseeing another congregation. Here we have two congregations. We shall call them "A" and "B." Now, can the elders of congregation "A" oversee congregation "B"? No. The command is specific and says, "The flock of God which is among you."

2. Secondly, it excludes their overseeing a person who is not in the "flock among" them. It eliminates their overseeing one member or two members or any members of any other congregation. The elders of congregation "A" cannot oversee any member of congregation "B". And most of us would say, "That's right." Well, let us apply it now. I got a letter the other day from a church in Texas saying, "We need some church to take the oversight of Brother _______ and His work in Italy." Now how could a church here oversee a man and a work that is not in the "flock among you?" It is prohibited by the specific: "Tend the flock of God among you." But someone says, "If congregation "A" is supporting a preacher in Mexico, they are overseeing him." Are they overseeing his wife, too? "Yes." They are overseeing two members of another "flock" when they do. If they can oversee two members of another congregation, then they can just as scripturally oversee the whole congregation. The truth is this: when a man goes into a "mission" field, he is not under the oversight of the elders back here because he is not in that local church. Sending the support is the work of that local church, but overseeing the man is another thing entirely.

3. Third, this specific statement (1 Peter 5:2) eliminates one congregation's overseeing a part of the work of another congregation. The elders of congregation "A" cannot oversee a part of the work of congregation "B". Let us illustrate it by considering the financial ability or work of a congregation:

Chart Goes Here

$ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ $ Cong "A Cong "B Cong "C

Congregation "A" has a certain amount of financial ability. How much of this are the elders to oversee? Why, they are to oversee all of it? Why? It is their responsibility. It is the work of the flock of God which is among them.

Over here we have another congregation ("B"). Now this congregation does not have as much financial ability as congregation "A," but how much are they to oversee? Their own work — all of it. Here is still another congregation ("C"). They have a little more financial ability. They are to oversee all of their work. They have this many dollars to spend in doing their work.

Now congregation "A" cannot oversee a part of the work of congregation "B." That would be a clear-cut violation of autonomy. But congregation "A" decides to plan a program of work that exceeds their financial power and therefore to do that work, they would have to have oversight of more funds than their own members can give. So congregation "B" takes a part of its financial responsibility and sends it to congregation "A". Congregation "A" says, "We will oversee and direct every phase of this work." Now, what are they (elders of "A" overseeing? They are overseeing a part of the financial ability of another local church. "C" also decides to send a part of its financial power to "A": As per below:

Chart Goes Here

____ _____ $ $ $ $ "B" "A" nelf

Now, what are the elders of "A" overseeing? Their own work ? Yes, but in addition to that they are overseeing a part of the financial power of other churches. "A" did not receive these funds because it was an object of charity. Local churches "B" and "C" do not oversee their funds to the object of the work — only to the indirect object. "A" oversees its own and the funds of "B" and "C" to the object of the work. And it violates God's teaching on autonomy. What does this do? It eliminates the sponsoring church type of congregational cooperation, where one church sends funds to another to let it assume the oversight of a work to which both churches are equally related. The sponsoring church is eliminated by the statement that elders are to "tend the flock of God which is among you, exercising the oversight." It puts under the eldership of one church a part of the financial work of other congregations. Now you can put all the constituent elements and component parts together that you want to and it still will not authorize a total situation like that one.

In the Herald of Truth radio program, Highland declares that they direct and oversee every phase of this work. Where does some of the money come from that they oversee? From several hundred churches. They are overseeing that much (the amount sent to them) of the work of other churches, then. And that is why an objection has been brought against it — because of a violation of the oversight of elders.

D. Any kind of cooperation that violates these three principles is wrong. Any kind that adds another organization to the one that God gave, or that allows the elders of one church to oversee a part of the funds of another church in doing a work to which all are equally related is wrong. We haven't even discussed the kind of cooperation that is authorized yet, but we have eliminated those two kinds — sponsoring church and a human institution.

(More to follow)