Vol.X No.IV Pg.2
June 1973

State Of The Union

Robert F. Turner

How is the church getting along? Perhaps because we travel a lot, this is a frequent question. The interest is understandable, and commendable; even though it may reveal a church-hood concept at times. Brethren have a common interest and like to communicate with one another. Isolated churches need encouragement and assurance, to share joys and sorrows.

This was once the role of brotherhood papers —each with its sphere of influence —and despite commercial rivalries, personal bickerings and special doctrinal interests, they served a useful purpose. Some conservative brethren today may desire a strong journalistic center about which to rally our forces, but I think the wind blows differently.

Todays church is a new generation which feels betrayed by the centers of influence of yesterday. The fight against institutionalism has had its backlash on all things promotional and has gendered a fierce independence —of congregations, and of personal Bible study. Sometimes this leads to absurdities in practice and teaching, but as one young preacher put it, I want to make my own mistakes. He will! I only hope he will not confuse freedom with infallibility, nor zeal with knowledge.

The number of conservative churches is growing —east, west, north, south. Most of them are growing in size, and are using much larger contributions to preach the gospel via radio, T. V., publications, pulpit and house-to-house. There is an improvement in interest in sending preachers into other countries (notable work is being done in Mexico, S. Africa, Philippines, Australia, Chile, etc., to generalize) but this work must continue and grow. Some churches took a stand and are still standing because they have not developed a positive attitude toward saving the lost. A few were crippled from the start by predominately elderly members (those babies make a lot of noise, but they sound good to the preacher who can see afar) and even here, some small churches, of older members, are able to supply finances for active works in places with greater opportunities. Efforts must be made to develop aggressive programs to reach young people, even if it means moving to better locations, or the mortician will eventually close those church doors.

A waning interest in schools, papers, and big-name preachers— as symbols of our brotherhood — is not a bad sign in my book. I believe it is replaced by vigorous scriptural independence that is bound to prosper.