An Exchange on One Church Assisting Another Church

 

     Before reading the subsequent exchange, you might want to read, "The Work of the Church" and "The Herald of Truth" (click on to visit). 

The following exchange was begun over an Internet list discussion pertaining to the "sponsoring church arrangement," the mentioning of one church sharing a meeting place belonging to another church, and a church offering to give their pews to another church. The sponsoring church arrangement is the practice among some churches of Christ one a church or churches contributing monies to another church and the receiving church then executing various works. Out of this practice, an expanded discussion developed as to one church assisting another church. In this exchange, the attitude and thinking of a significant number of preachers in the church is observed. I strive to point out the need for consistency in application and practice. I acknowledge that there is scripture for a church or churches assisting another church or churches in the matter of benevolence (I Cor. 16: 1, 2, 2 Cor. 8, 9). I also show that other than in this limited, specific matter, one church has no authority for assisting another church. The exchange evolves from the sponsoring church practice into a general discussion involving some common practices among many local churches, churches that are opposed to the sponsoring church arrangement. I point out that these current practices do not constitute the sponsoring church arrangement, but do present some inconsistencies that we should consider. Most of the preachers who took issue with me are well known and respected preachers in the church of Christ, whose names I have changed in order to concentrate on the content rather than the men involved in this exchange.

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

Several have now commented on the original post regarding a church allowing another church to meet in their building at a different time.  For the most part, the majority of brethren will not see a problem with such an arrangement.

Gary wrote:

"On Ö mailing list, Danny wrote regarding ...an opportunity to help support a Hispanic evangelistic effort by allowing an established group of Hispanic Christians utilize our building at times not conflicting with our worship schedule.

Sarah wrote: ... a sponsoring church arrangement.  And yet, this practice seems to fall into the same type of work! ..."

I did not think this to be the case. However, I would like others to input on this situation.

James writes:  Providing a place of worship is support is it not?  One church is giving to another. We have examples of supporting preachers and sending money to elders to give to needy saints.  What else can a church give another?

Don comments:

There are practices common among non-institutional brethren which I think are inconsistent with their "conservative" stand.  I know of several churches that have disbanded and have given the treasury to other churches. Pews, song books, and even church buildings are sometimes given to other churches.  I know of no way a church can give to another local church except under the heading of benevolence (I Cor. 16: 1, 2).

"A church allowing another church to meet in their building at an off time is benevolence," some contend.  When one studies the biblical subject of benevolence, one finds it concerns the deprivation and provision of the necessities of life (cp. I John 3: 17).  I do not consider a church building provision to be a necessity of life; therefore, I cannot place such a matter under church benevolence.

"Don, such is just another example of your radicalism!"  I am sure I just expressed what some on the list think.  Yes, I do hold views that are considered radical.  I believe that Jesus restricted any put away person from later putting away and marry another (Matt. 19: 9), brethren building their privately funded missionary organizations through which to preach the gospel (I Tim. 3: 15), and a church assisting another church except in the area of benevolence for needy saints (2 Cor. 8, 9).

There was a time in my life that many if not most non-institutional brethren were just as "radical" as I presently am.  As I look back, I do not recall significantly changing any position or teaching that I now hold and present. Yes, there is much change occurring and more on the way, I believe.  It always begins relatively "small" and then in increments, it progresses.  I know churches that are considered conservative that except for the fact they would not contribute a penny out of the treasury to an orphanage, they are just as liberal as they can be.  Over the years, they have changed little by little.  Those among them who voiced opposition were marked as "radical" and ignored.  Others for fear of being so stigmatized, remained silent.  Being a student of history, I can site multiplied examples of this very thing.  At first, not only is the proposed matter considered "small" if at all an infraction, but it usually has the attendant emotional element.  "They need help making their church building payment and we (the treasury) need to send them a check," I have heard.  What, pray tell, is the serious difference between providing another church a time to meet in the building and in making a payment for their building?  Is not much of the same principle involved?  Seldom does a year go by but what we (Holly Street) are contacted by another church, requesting that we (treasury) contribute to their church building erection fund.  Just a little removed is the practice of a church allowing other churches to support their preacher while they place all their monies in a building fund.

I know, I am just exhibiting radicalism again.  I had rather think that I am displaying consistency of application.  Of course, I am now hearing more and more that, "We can agree in principle, but differ in application and still be in harmony."  If this is so, I suppose it (this subject) really does not matter.  In fact, if such is correct, what would really matter, just as long as we agree in principle, whatever this means?

I would not say that one church providing the arrangement for another church to regularly meet in their church building is automatically the sponsoring church arrangement (I suppose to a degree, it would be).  However, I would say that such a practice is without Bible authority and precedent.  I know, though, I represent only a small minority today.

Cordially,
Don Martin 

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

I appreciate the thoughts being expressed relative to a church allowing another church to use their building for regular meeting purposes.  Brethren need to examine every practice and be consistent in what they do.

Jason wrote:

I see nothing wrong in one congregation allowing another to use its building, providing the second group pay all costs involved in its use.

Don comments:

I misunderstood Jason and I apologize.  Jason explained:

Don has misunderstood the very point I made, by calling it "rent". There is a great deal of difference in paying "rent" and meeting costs involved in the use. One involves profit, the other doesn't

Don reflects:

I personally do not conduct weddings in the property belonging to the church, as I think such is the function of the family and individual (another issue).  Some have offered, "Don, we will pay the electrical, etc. so the church will not be out any cost; thus, you should not have a problem."  I never have been able to relate to this and, no, it does not relieve my concerns.  A civic meeting is good and can advantageously involve the Christian, but what business does the church have in allowing the use of their building for civil purposes, even if the city offers to pay the electricity, etc.?  Besides, how does one know what expenses are actually incurred?  In addition, there is still the use of the building for a matter not the work of the church.  Succinctly stated, it is not the work of the church to provide for a meeting place for another local church.

I do appreciate all the comments being made regarding this subject.  Edward Jones contributes to the discussion.

Edward wrote, first quoting me:

Don wrote:

"I know of several churches that have disbanded and have given the treasury to other churches. Pews, song books, and even church buildings are sometimes given to other churches.  I know of no way a church can give to another local church except under the heading of benevolence (I Cor. 16: 1, 2)."

While I can respect your serious considerations, I have a question. Do you suggest that we just pile up the pews, song books and other furniture and burn them? I'd say that we should make the most expeditious use of them. We must exercise "good stewardship."

Don answers:

No.  If a church builds another building, I think they have the right and need to liquidate their old building based on fair market value.  If they just "gave it away," this could involve contributing to whatever without authority to do so.  In the case of a church having pews, etc., let them sell them at fair market value.

Edward wrote:

However, if one is "hung up" on benevolence or evangelism as being the need that necessitates the building, then perhaps he/she will provide us with book, chapter, and verse in that regard.

Don comments:

Edward, we both know that the only authority for the meeting place, whether rented or owned, is Hebrews 10: 25 (the expediency matter).  Due to severe snow damage, we were without our building for six months a while back.  We had to rent an area in a local motel.  Believe me, we had a vastly greater appreciation for our church building when the repairs were completed and we moved back.  The building is a wonderful expedient and asset.  However, we must be careful to consistently use the building for the work of the church.

I wrote:

I would not say that one church providing the arrangement for another church to regularly meet in their church building is automatically the sponsoring church arrangement (I suppose to a degree, it would be).

Edward asked:

 I don't see it as such so tell us how it is, please.

Don answers:

As illustrated, the church is responsible for how the building is used. Assuming that a church may allow another church to regularly meet in their building, the church has some inherent responsibility in the matter.  I alluded to a post on another list that mentioned a Hispanic group meeting in their building and illegal aliens being present.  In the case of another church being involved, this, to some degree, places a church in the position of monitoring and overseeing (hope the antecedents are clear).  I agree such a circumstance is not tantamount to the full blown sponsoring church arrangement, this is why I have qualified by saying, "...to some degree."

Edward, as always, you have some good, thoughtful comments and make them in a very courteous way.  In the matter of comparativeness and relativity, what we are discussing is admittedly infinitesimal compared to the sponsoring church practice.  Yet, my plea is for brethren to be consistent in all our practices.  I know of no way one church can assist another other than in benevolence, this is my paramount point.

Cordially,
Don Martin 

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

Again, I appreciate the comments of various ones contributing to the original question whether or not a church that owns a building should allow another church to use their building for a meeting place.  I have attempted to voice some of the concerns that I have with such a practice, knowing that I am in the minority and that probably most would not have a scintilla of concern about the practice.

Al wrote:

Don Martin evidently believes that any sharing with other congregations is equivalent to the sponsoring church arrangement. I deny this.

Don remarks:

I thought that I had intelligibly expressed myself.  Here is what I wrote:

In the case of another church being involved, this, to some degree, places a church in the position of monitoring and overseeing (hope the antecedents are clear).  I agree such a circumstance is not tantamount to the full blown sponsoring church arrangement, this is why I have qualified by saying, "...to some degree."

Al wrote:

When a church gives away their unneeded pews, song books or warm baptistry water it in no way gives up it autonomy. Unfortunately we have churches which disband and have some items of value which have been purchased with money that was given to the Lord. They ought to be used for the glory of the Lord.

Don comments:

I have objected to one church giving to another church unless it is under the heading of benevolence.  I only read about a church assisting another church when there was deprivation of the necessities of life (cp. I Cor. 16: 1, 2).  I do maintain that it is unscriptural for a church about to disband to give their treasury to another church.  After a like fashion, I believe it is wrong for a church (treasury) to contribute to a building fund regarding another church.  Where is the authority for such and if this can be done, why not other things, matters which most non-institutional churches teach against.  Where is the consistency of application?

Al wrote:

Some agree that the church can sell its assets, but can't give them to another congregation. You show me the justification for selling assets to a Pentecostal church and I'll show you authority for giving those same assets to a congregation of the Lord's people.

Don reflects:

Selling pews or a building at fair market value is not simply contributing and is not benevolence.  However, simply giving such to another church is different.  I wonder if one is going to insert that one church can give a "gift" to another church and such not be under the heading of benevolence and, therefore, scriptural?  My assiduous point is that the only authority for one church giving to another church is benevolence.  There may or may not be a violation of autonomy element present (this can be a separate concern).

Al wrote:

Loaning the building to another congregation does not take away control of the use of the building. Restricting use of the building to activities which the "owning" congregation wishes is not oversight of the "borrowing" congregation. It is only oversight of its property. If a congregation rents a school building, the school will likely have some say in how the building is used, but that does not constitute school oversight of the church.

Don comments:

Al, I am sorry but I think we are engaging in semantics and word games.  The present elders at Holly Street do not allow weddings in the church building. If another group were meeting and sharing our use of the building, they might want to have a "church wedding."  As one of the elders, I would oppose such and in effect be placing myself in a position where I would not want to be, since the other elder and I only have oversight of the church of which we are a part (cp. I Pet. 5: 1-3).  One can try to argue that we would only be exercising oversight of the building and not the other church, but I think one pretty well involves the other in such a circumstance.  In fact, as a church (not just the elders) we have the practice of no weddings in the building.  While we were in the motel, there were restrictions and rules imposed by the motel.  In order for us to rent their facility, we had to abide.  Yes, they told us what to and not to do.  I did not have a problem with this.  However, when the "motel" is replaced by another "local church," it seems to me we then have a problem.

I had rather see a local church sell their building at fair market value to a Pentecostal group than give it away to another local church, anticipating a possible forthcoming question.  I do not necessarily think that an individual or church selling a product to a religious group such as Pentecostals is fellowshipping error and a scriptural conflict.  However, I do believe that one church financially assisting another church, except for benevolence, is an act in conflict with scripture.

Thanks gain, Al and all, for your comments, even when you disagree with me. In all matters, we must be reminded, we must lay aside emotionalism and calmly and consistently apply the scriptures.

I agree that one can split hairs (I do not have many left to split), but there is a biblical principle that we must uphold.

Cordially,
Don Martin 

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

As I predicted, there would be many divergent views expressed relative to one church allowing another church to use their building for meeting purposes at a different meeting time.

Jason responded thus to my comments:

I see nothing wrong in one congregation allowing another to use its building, providing the second group pay all costs involved in its use. There is no way this arrangement can be interpreted as a sponsoring church arrangement. Just like there is nothing wrong with eating, or sleeping, in the building, so long as it is not a part of the work for which the church pays, unless of course it is a work of benevolence to needy saints.

Don reflects:

As I understood the original question, there was no mention of the second church paying to use the church building (rent, perhaps I missed something). However, while this would remove the benevolence issue, would it not create another issue, the issue of a church renting out their building?  Is renting different from selling a property for fair market value?  I see a difference.  Could it be reasoned that the "rent" charge is simply for wear and tear to the property?  Would there be a serious difference in a church renting out the building to another church and in renting it during the week to a secular school?  If one objects to the school rental, but not to the other church rental, are we not then involved in an "interchurch" type argument and activity for justification and rationale?  I think the minimal one can say about this whole use of the church building is that it is problematic, at best.

John wrote:

If one church overseeing another congregation is the issue here, then it seems to me there is a problem because at least some oversight is involved, if in nothing else, in the giving of permission for use of the building. Additionally, that permission would be conditional -- that they teach that truth, coordinate with the first group's activities, not make physical changes to the building (without permission?), etc.

Don comments:

I think John is making a good point.  When a church rents out their building (assuming such can be done without inherent scriptural problems), do they not retain some responsibility to see that the building is used in keeping with the design of the building, that for which the Lord's treasury was activated to initially purchase the property?  What if a church rented out the building to a school to conduct classes during the week and found out that in the classes, organic evolution was being taught?  It would seem to me that there absolutely would be responsibility on the part of the church to respond to such.  If another church rented out the building and error was being taught, Johnís above point, would not the church then have the responsibility to directly, as a church, become involved and would not this involve oversight and autonomy issues?

Regarding the "sponsoring church" scenario in the better perceived case, I wrote the following in my post:  "I suppose to a degree, it would be."

I personally think each church needs to conduct its own business separate and apart from other local churches.  I have seen brethren try to rationalize and justify all sorts of arrangements, but they usually regretted ever involving another local church.  If a church qualifies for benevolence, this is one thing, but to involve churches in various possible arrangements is only asking for problems, in the best of situations.

I do not know if the original post that asked about such an arrangement on this list is the same post that I read on another list.  However, in the post on another list it was mentioned that the Hispanic group would probably have some ill legal aliens present in their meetings.  Herein already lies a problem.  Does not the renting church have some responsibility in this area and if so, would not this involve oversight issues?

Brethren, we need to carefully think out all issues and avoid sin and error.

Cordially,
Don Martin

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

Instead of considering the practice of a church or churches spending to a church of churches and then the receiving church executing the "group" or "aggregate work" (sponsoring church practice), we are now focused on a church providing a building for another church that may or may not necessarily involve the sponsoring church arrangement.

I have maintained that the only biblical authority that exists for one church financially assisting another church is in the matter of benevolence (I Cor. 16: 1, 2).  I have objected to a church providing a building for another church in which to meet, whether we are talking about a church contributing to the building fund of another church or providing their own facilities for alternate meeting purposes, based on two considerations:

(1). Having a church building in which to regularly meet is not a matter of benevolence.

(2). A church providing a building, assuming such is allowable, does, to some degree and in most scenarios, involve conflicts in oversight and autonomy.

I have urged the laying aside of emotional appeals and simply call upon the scriptures with an attendant consistent application.  I have conceded that one church allowing another church to meet in their building at alternate times is not tantamount to the full blown sponsoring church arrangement so common among some Churches of Christ today.  However, I have contended that we not practice even comparatively "small" violations of scriptural principles.

Dale wrote regarding a church allowing a school to use the building paid for out of the church treasury:

A number of years ago, down in south-central Kentucky, a congregation began because they were forced out of their meeting house by a large institutional faction. Those that left either had to leave or stultify and offend their consciences by supporting human organizations from the local church treasury. There were about a hundred of them that left.

None of those who left had large enough facilities for the whole group to meet and worship. The superintendent of schools offered to let them use an elementary school's building for free. All they were asked to do was to straighten up the chairs, clean the floors, etc. No money was involved. They met there until they were able to build an adequate meeting house.

About a year later, one fateful night, the very same elementary school house burned to the ground. The same superintendent of schools appealed to the churches in the small town asking to use their Bible class rooms until the school house could be rebuilt. The group that began by meeting in the school house was asked to do the same.

This actually happened -- it is not hypothetical. What do those who are involved in this thread think would have been the appropriate response?

Don comments:

Again, I am just as susceptible to human emotion as the next fellow.  If I had been a member in the above case, I would have insisted that we (the Christians) involve ourselves as individuals, all things equal and understood, in helping the school find and secure a temporary meeting place, to the point of contributing both in time and money to the effort.  However, I could not agree to offering the church building for a meeting place for the school.  I do understand that in this case, the need is understood as temporary.  However, we could be talking about months or a year or more before a new school could be built.  The church building is the Lord's, purchased with his money and subject to be used for the purpose of preaching and edification (the work of the church, I Tim. 3: 15, Eph. 4: 16), not secular education.

Rickey wrote:

The decisions of the local church are theirs to make and theirs alone. The authority of each congregation is limited to THEIR own work and they have no authority over any other work.  That is why the sponsoring church arrangement is wrong.

I remember hearing about a local church of Christ that rented space from a SeventhDay adventist group.  The SDA had the building and the church did not.  Turns out the rent was cheaper than anywhere else in that community.  Not only did the COC rent the building, but a few other groups did as well.

I know of a church that rented a room above a saloon once. There are places in the world where brethren have had to meet in some places where we would not otherwise gather or even be.

Don comments:

I understand and I do not necessarily view the above as a scriptural problem.  The church is paying for a service, a meeting place.

Rickey continues:

Each local church determines for themselves what they will do and how they will conduct themselves when gathered as a church or when gathered socially.  Every church practices its own protocol, and that is their right.

Problems arise when one group starts laying down the law for all other groups to follow.  What one group demands of it's members cannot be forced upon other local congregations. Sure you may have an opinion about others, but leave it there.

Don reflects:

I am not sure as to Rickey's point.  As admitted, one church does not want to be in a position for monitoring how another church uses their (the lender) building.

Rickey adds:

 Let me respond to all these concerns by explaining what we did at Greenwood Village where I preached last.  For the last year we were meeting there, we shared the building with a spanish speaking congregation.  We had no concerns about their faithfulness because the preacher has been a close friend for years.  However in that part of the city there was no congregation of spanish speaking brethren, and the demographics were probably 70 to 80 percent hispanic in that part of town.

We were a small group and our resources were devestated by tropical storm Alyson (40 inches of rain in three days in our area). Two feet of water in the building destroyed most of what we had.  Our pews were gone, and one of the brethren in Alvin had saved some of the old pews from their building and offered them to us. They also had some old songbooks that were collecting dust in the attic, and gave them to us.

Our resources being low, we found it difficult to keep the maintenance on the building as we wanted to do.

Our spanish speaking brethren had gifts of carpentry, and lawn service and decoration.  Both congregations benefited. We offered a PLACE for them to worship, and they performed the maintenance and other things which we were physically or skillfully unable to do.

At no time did we ever suggest that we were sponsoring that congregation, in fact we distanced ourselves as much as possible from them.  Other than the signs on the property, we did nothing in concert together....

Now you can nit-pick that this was a sponsor arrangement, and you can say that there is no authority for one church to help another, but be careful when you start to go there.  Speak of consistency, do we not all share some things in common with other brethren in other congregations?....

Don responds:

I do not question the sincerity of brother Rickey and the brethren involved in the above.  However, we come back to the same question:  Where is the authority for one church assisting another church except in benevolence?  Is a church not having a building in which to regularly meet a matter of benevolence, the necessities of life?  I think not.

Is there anyone on this list that can produce Bible authority for one church assisting another either by contributing to another churches' building fund, providing them alternate times to meet in their (the lender) building, or giving them their building when they relocate?  All matters aside, this is the issue.

Cordially,
Don Martin 

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

I want to thank all who have taken the time to contribute to this theme.  It is good that we study.

Al wrote:

Don Martin said:

"I do maintain that it is unscriptural for a church about to disband to give their treasury to another church."

My question: What is a scriptural way to dispose of the assets when it disbands?

Don answers:

Al, as I have increased my world-wide exposure in our Internet work, I have had probably three churches during the last couple of years to contact me regarding this very problem.  First, my instruction is for a church to address this matter before they disband (they are no longer a church at that point).  I offer such instruction for scriptural and legal reasons.  Their intention to disband and how they are going to disburse with the property and treasury should be clearly established in writing.  Regarding the treasury, I have suggested that they decide on a preacher or preachers (myself excluded) whom they view as faithful and financially assist them, all things equal and understood.  I have suggested that they liquidate the property at fair market value and, again, assist preachers.

Too many times these churches are told, "Divide the treasury among yourselves."  Is this right, I think not (Acts 5).  "Give the treasury to another church," some instruct.  Where is the authority for this practice? "Give the building to a group that can use it," still others say.  Again, where is the authority for such practices?

Al, thanks for the probative question.  I know there are some difficult scenarios that arise that can tax the best and most knowledgeable.  However, we really need to strive in all matters to be consistent in our practices and to lay aside emotional stimulus.  Again, a church giving their old building to another church is not tantamount to the sponsoring church practice.  However, we need to watch all we do and have book, chapter, and verse.

Cordially,
Don Martin 

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

I think it is profitable that we study the practice of one church providing a meeting place for another church, whether by contributing to their building fund, giving them their old facility, or allowing alternate meeting times to meet in their building.  There are admitted matters of gradation in the mentioned circumstances, but they all share a commonality.  I have asked for Bible authority for one church assisting another church except in the area of benevolence.

There have been a number of good, opposing posts.  Many of the posts have appealed to emotional matters, circumstances of challenge, and the exception.  One Saturday afternoon I received a call from one of the members that they were at the church building and there was damage from the recent snow.  The other elder, several members, and I met to evaluate the damages. The fire department was called, based on civil protocol requirements.  The damage was so bad that the city that afternoon condemned the building. Since we needed a meeting place for the Sunday services, what did we do?  We did not contact the other churches in the area and ask if we could set up an alternate time to use their church building.  I do not even recall this being mentioned.  We calmly outlined two choices that we had.  One was meet in member's houses until we could locate a building to rent and/or find a meeting place that afternoon for the next day.  One elder was placed in charge of the repairs and I was in charge of meeting arrangements.  I assigned several to help and we took off canvassing an area of about three miles, our damaged building being the center.  In time for the Sunday morning service, we had a nice facility rented that met all civil law and fire department requirements and was large enough for our number.  We met in that facility for six months while our building was being repaired.

Again, we did not appeal for other churches to financially help us, this was not a case of benevolence (the necessities of life, cp. I John 3: 17).  We did not create problems for another church and for us by asking to use their building in which to meet for the time of reparation.  Our insurance took care of the expenses for the temporary meeting place and for the repairs to our building.

In 1983, I moved to the Texas cost, the same weekend Alicia hit with all her furry.  One church that met about five miles from us had extensive damage to their building.  I found an overflowing church building my first Sunday morning and found out that we had many visitors.  We did not say, "Plan on using our building for alternate meetings."  They were certainly welcome and this was expressed in many ways but not to have equal use of our building (they could continue meeting as visitors).  However, they organized and found a temporary meeting place until their building could be repaired.

I mention the above, could mention many more, cases not to brag but to show that I know circumstances arise but there are ways of addressing these matters without involving churches in unscriptural practices.  My call is for Bible authority and consistency of application in all things, including the use of a building paid for by the treasury of a local church.  "The building is still being used for the work of the church, it is just another local church using it," some argue.  Brethren, do I really need to address this argument?

Cordially,
Don Martin

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

In view of the decline of posts under the above subject, I suppose that either no one can find Bible authority for a church assisting another church in the ways being discussed or interest has simply died.  I do hate to see matters left dangling, though.  If those who have been in favor of a church assisting another church in a matter not benevolence have changed their mind, I do wish they would so state.

Based on one post, it appeared that a church just giving another church their meeting place is a good practice (Rickey).  In view of still another post, it would seem that it is permissible for a church to allow a school to meet in their church building while the school is building a facility, at least in certain emotional circumstances (Dale). Brethren, where does it end?

Aaron wrote:

Why is it OK to use a passage re THE COLLECTION OF MONEY relating to BENEVOLENCE (1 Cor. 16) in a broader application to "authorize" the COLLECTION of money relating to EVANGELISM (preachers), thus "SWITCHING" a verse specifically addressing one thing Collection for Benevolence)and applying it to another subject (Collection for Evangelism) ... but not OK to use a passage about one church SENDING MONEY to another church for BENEVOLENCE in a broader application for SENDING MONEY for to another church for EVANGELISM. Both are "SWITCHING" the money from benevolence to evangelism...one regarding collecting and the other regarding sending.

Don comments:

Aaron seems to have no problem with a church or churches being involved with another church or churches in matters other than benevolence, based on the above.  Of course, if one church can provide a church building for another church, then where do we draw the line? (I think Tina Collins made some good points relative to this.)  As I have tried to show, I believe we are often inconsistent.  As I read the scriptures, though, I only see a church or churches providing for another church or churches in the area of benevolence and this benevolence involved the necessities of life (cp. Acts 11, Rom. 15, I Cor. 16, 2 Cor. 8, 9, cp. I John 3: 17).

Aaron has raised a good question.  I Corinthians 16: 1, 2 is specific: it involves the churches of Galatia and the Corinthian church regarding aid to the Jerusalem church.  Again, this "liberality unto Jerusalem" was benevolence due to their physical needs of the requisites of life.

Having thus stated, consider a couple matters with me, please, Aaron and the list.  First, those who preach the gospel are to be financially supported by the church(es).  This is plainly and irrefutably taught in such passages as I Corinthians 9 (see especially verse 14).  Even those who serve as elders and who so labor in the word in the way being discussed by Paul are to be supported (I Tim. 5: 17, 18).

The only detailed teaching we have as to the particularity of how the church is to obtain finances is I Corinthians 16: 1, 2.  There are characteristics regarding I Corinthians 16: 1, 2, ff. that show this teaching was not simply indigenous, peculiar to, or limited to the matter under consideration as a one time event.  The Greek shows Paul is considering something to take place on "every Lord's Day" (vs. 2).  These contributions were to go into the treasury of the church at Corinth.  Hence, I believe that while the teaching in I Corinthians 16 is specific, in view of the language and the lack of specificity in general, the Holy Spirit meant for us to use this text in general regarding the financing of the work of the church.

This does not mean, however, that one is justified in playing on the generic capabilities of I Corinthians 16 to conclude that churches may also assist other churches in preaching and edification.  The scriptures show such church assistance in benevolence, but there is a total lack of any indication or example in preaching and edification.  We must understand that church benevolence is rare and not ongoing; while preaching and edification are assiduous or ongoing and a static part of the work of the church.  I think one reason we see churches assisting other churches in benevolence and not in preaching is the greater opportunity for autonomy violations in matters involving the static work of the church.  Even in benevolence, it is obvious that care was taken not to interfere (cp. Acts 11: 27-30).

Aaron asked:

If the "pattern" works 'both ways' or is 'switchable' for benevolence...i.e. the COLLECTION for benevolence also authorizes COLLECTION for evangelism...then why does it not work both ways for SENDING...the SENDING of one church to another church for benevolence also authorizes the SENDING of one church to another church for evangelism?

Don comments:

For the reasons that I mentioned above, Aaron.  While we clearly see a church(es) assisting a church and/or churches in benevolence, there is not a scintilla of teaching or evidence of such in preaching.  In fact, we, in detail, read how a church(es) sent directly to Paul and not to the church where Paul labored (Phili. 4: 14f.).  Such is illustrative of the point and distinction we are making, I am convinced.

Aaron answered his own question:

Why?  Because we CHOOSE to view it this way.  It suits US...It suits our "position".  Where is the CENI for any such distinction in what is switchable or works both ways?  There is none.  We are simply not expected to think enough so as to ask these kind of questions.

Don responds:

It appears Aaron has made up his mind and does not want to be bothered with facts.

Notice Aaron's convoluted reasoning (mixing apples and oranges and coming out with pears):

For all we know, the early Christians were just doing "whatever it takes" to get a work they undertook done. In Evangelism, they, as individuals, welcomed the traveling evangelist in their home (2 John 10), gave them money, etc.,  or as a church would send money to an Evangelist traveling with other evangelists for their support and work.  In benevolence, they did the same, acting as individuals and congregations...perhaps just doing "whatever it takes" rather than following some law that we only are able to find by reading  between the lines.

Aaron provides some substance:

Sarah made a good point.  We, as a church, give song books, pews, etc., to other churches...but draw the line when it comes to the building.

Don concludes:

Brethren, I know we mean well when a church assists another church in an area not benevolent.  However, we must be consistent and abide in the scriptures.  Again, we only have authority for a church assisting another church regarding the necessities of life.  Unless we can define a meeting place, pews, etc. as the necessities of life, we had better not be involved in this practice.  If a church, put another way, may assist another church by giving them a building or providing a meeting place for them, then where do we draw the line and who is going to draw it?  I think that sometimes in our efforts to do good, we allow how zeal to get ahead of our knowledge, all of us do this from time to time.

Cordially,
Don Martin

 

Don Martin to the list:

 

I do not have any patience regarding whiners and those who will not accept accurate exposure regarding their teaching.  Rickey complains about how I treat some.  Before I notice this with you, allow me to quote Rickey's answer to the posed question:

Don asked:

May a church allow a school to meet in their facilities as stipulated?

Rickey comments:

If the situation was as Dale presented and if my brethren were agreeable, we would do so in a heartbeat without any regret.

Don comments:

Now notice Rickey's reasoning and authority:

"Now why?   Well if you remember they did it for us.   And when I read of what our Lord said about our relationship among others, I can see that in certain circumstances it would be acceptable. They did not have to, but they did for us, and I think a lot of our relationships are reciprocal in nature.  We are supposed to do for others what we would hope that they do for us. I think that turn around is fair, and yes this is purely emotional, but look to some of my other reasonings...."

Don continues:

I am unable to relate to the objections offered to Rickey as to my treatment of certain ones.  You have to exact a position from them, while they accuse you of lying and misrepresenting them.  Then finally some will come out, as Rickey has done in this post and clearly state their position.  Here is what I say:  Rickey believes that a church may allow a school to use their church building in the circumstances outlined by Dale.  I suppose Rickey will again accuse me of "bashing the brethren in Christ" in view of what I have just stated, but I hope not.

Rickey concluded his post with these words:

"And the last point, and I say this as carefully as I can. What business is it of yours (or anyone's) if a congregation of the Lord's people do such a thing.  Remember they are the ones who are judged by their Master, not you."

Don observes:

I have nothing personally against Rickey.  I do, though, believe he is wrong.  I continue to maintain that it is unscriptural for a church to assist another church in ways we have discussed, other than in the matter of benevolence.

I also would like to call on all posters to please omit the personal attacks and simply address the issue of one church assisting another church.  Where is the consistency in saying as has Rickey has that a church may offer their church building for a school to use and then contend that the church building must be used for the execution of the work God has assigned to the church (reading, writing, and arithmetic do not constitute this work).  If a school may use the building, why not the boy scouts, day cares, etc.

I do thank Rickey for his answer to our posed question.  Now, we continue to wait for Daleís answer (I asked Dale to answer his own question regarding the church allowing the school to meet in their building).  Fellows, I do not want to fight with any of you, just address the question, please, and leave off the personal attacks.  I also urge you to study why Rickey believes a church may offer their building in the circumstances mentioned by Dale.  Also consider the logic and authority that I have offered as to why a church cannot assist another church other than in benevolence and that the building is not to be used for any purpose other than preaching and the edification of the saints.  Test my position, question me, but please do not personally attack me.  Such ruins the study we are having.

I have said for several years that we are becoming slack regarding the old issues that we fought back forty to sixty years ago.  Young people have gown up without the knowledge of these matters and some of us have gotten weak regarding what a church may and may not do.

We now welcome Dale's calm, thought-out, and forthright answer to the question that Rickey has answered.  Rickey says "yes," as he qualified and now we shall see what Dale says ("Dale" refused to answer and looked to the list owners for immunity):

May a church allow a school to meet in their facilities as stipulated?

Let's relax and have a good, honest study, brethren.   Let's help each other be consistent and scriptural in our thinking, teaching, and practice.

Cordially,
Don Martin  

 

Don Martin to Frank and the list:

 

I commend all efforts to focus on the church providing to another church issue that avoids personality attacks.  Such attacks are not only a waste of time, but they gender hatred and strive (I have omitted several posts that were simple personal attacks against me and did not contribute to the study at hand, dm).  Press me to answer a question and then test the provided answer, but do not call me a busybody, etc. because I attempt to get some to state their position and answer their own questions.

Frank wrote:

If I have to have  authority for every thing I do. then everything I do is out of some sort of Law.  Love has only one Law DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU. God will do unto me as I have done to you.

Not wanting to share the Lord building with the Lord people or not willing to let it be used for something that is a good work is not dwelling in the spirit of the Love that God would have us in.

Don responds:

Frank has a good question and I do not feel dirty and as if I am lowering myself to the hog pen by answering it. 

Don comments on the question:

Frank, there is no question or doubt as to the biblical fact of having to have authority for all believed and practiced under the canopy of service to God.  We are to do all we do in Jesus' name or by his authority (Col. 3: 17, Acts 4: 7, 12).  Hence, your "if" can be removed.  Since it is removed, yes, the Christian is governed by law.  We are to be "under law to Christ" and we are to fulfill the "law of Christ," the "perfect law of liberty" (I Cor. 9: 21; Gal. 6: 2; Jas. 1: 25).  Such, however, should not be viewed as onerous or legalism (I Jn. 5: 3). 

One reason that I immediately asked for Dale to answer his own question was because I saw how charged it was from the perspective of prompting any such as Rickey, Aaron, Frank, etc. to wrongly answer based on the inferential set up of fair play.  Look again at Dale's example that calls for an answer:

"A number of years ago, down in south-central Kentucky, a congregation began because they were forced out of their meeting house by a large institutional faction. Those that left either had to leave or stultify and offend their consciences by supporting human organizations from the local church treasury. There were about a hundred of them that left.

None of those who left had large enough facilities for the whole group to meet and worship. The superintendent of schools offered to let them use an elementary school's building for free. All they were asked to do was to straighten up the chairs, clean the floors, etc. No money was involved. They met there until they were able to build an adequate meeting house.

About a year later, one fateful night, the very same elementary school house burned to the ground. The same superintendent of schools appealed to the churches in the small town asking to use their Bible class rooms until the school house could be rebuilt. The group that began by meeting in the school house was asked to do the same.

This actually happened -- it is not hypothetical. What do those who are involved in this thread think would have been the appropriate response?"

Don comments:

When I read Dale's example, which he said really happened (I believe him), I want to immediately say, as has some others, "Sure the church can provide their building for school use, it would be wrong not to!"  However, we must resist the urge to emotionally respond and appeal to the scriptures.

Dale is responsible for setting up this sense of fair play and, yes, emotionally charged scenario.  In a study of the limitation placed on a church(es) regarding assisting another church(es), the worse thing that can be done is what Dale did.  The fact that Dale now refuses to answer his own question as to whether or not the church could scripturally let the school use their building makes matters even worse (more than I have asked Dale to answer his question).  In view of the scriptures only showing a church assisting another church in the matter of benevolence, all things equal and understood, I answered that while there were options as far as individual Christians, the church could not allow the school to use their building.  The church building is for the purpose of doing the work God has assigned to the church, not reading, writing, and arithmetic (I Tim. 3: 15).

While Dale sets back and is silent, more are being confused relative to this issue.  Matthew 7: 12 must not ever be treated and applied in a way to negate and contradict other teaching.  God placed this limitation on the church for obvious reasons.  One being that the church must focus on the lofty work it has of preaching the gospel.  Once exception is made, such as providing a meeting place for a school, the limitation is lifted and the opportunity is in place for all manner of exceptions.  I could just as easily as Dale come up with a scenario of fair play involving the boy scouts, civic organizations, etc.  If Dale's example is allowed, why not any other that is equally presented?  Emotionalism and a situation of fair play do not rule out the teaching of the scriptures on church limitation, divorce and marriage to another or whatever the subject may be!  A church cannot allow a school to regularly meet in their building (until school rebuilt) and a put away person is put away, whether innocent or guilty of fornication, it matters not how you or I might view the fair play circumstance.  Introducing fair play circumstances in a study of what is taught is unwise and hinders a profitable study of arriving at the truth. Dale should know this.

I have accurately stated the facts and truth in the above and I do not owe an apology to anyone.  My comments while involving another, are pertaining to the issue at hand and only mention another from the standpoint of what they have said and done in this study and how such has impacted the discussion.  I will respond to pertinent questions, tests of my position, and argumentation, but not to more personal assaults, motive assignments, and accusations.  If Dale overcomes his reluctance to answer his own question, please judge his post with regard to my response or lack thereof.

Cordially,
Don Martin 

 

Don Martin to the list (post two of two):

 

As I mentioned, I care about the truth and people and I thus challenge error when it is taught.  Rather than focus on the issue at hand, one church providing a building for another church and a church allowing a school to use the facility purchased with the Lord's money for the Lord's work, some came after me.  I have had my motives maligned and I have been called a "busybody."  Yet, the issue was not addressed by them. When I called on these men to answer the question posed by...., they refused and further accused me.  I have answered every post directed to me and every question that I have seen posed to me.  I have even begged these men to focus on the issue and leave off personal attacks.  They have contended that this demand was proof of personal attacks on my part and of being a busybody.

The simple truth of the matter is that I hold many beliefs and convictions that are antithetical to many on Mar's List, even among those who are supposed to be "conservative" to the point of having very little in common with them.  I am truly sorry that this is the case and it deeply saddens me.  For instance, I do not believe there are exceptions of a church assisting another church (other than in benevolence, I Corinthians 16) and of a church regularly providing a school, civic order, etc. to use their building.  I have called for consistency and have been maligned.

It seems that the tactic of some is to loudly cry out for a period of time, enlist sympathizers, and then start contacting the list owners, claiming foul play.  "Martin is being mean again," sort of thing.  Yes, I have been a bad boy again if calling on some to answer probative questions, even their own question, a question that I forthrightly answered,  is being mean.  I do not enjoy such infantile conduct that only ends in bitterness and the possibility of further study to ascertain the truth and to test positions being precluded.  I am ashamed of some on this list and I sincerely regret that truth has suffered!

I leave this exchange feeling rather badly.  My let down is that the truth has suffered and error has prevailed.  However, my hands are tied.  I am sure even what I have said in the foregoing will be termed as "further attacks by Martin to place good brethren in a bad light."  You cannot win for loosing in such circumstances.  When studies reach the point of Matthew 7: 6, it is scripturally time to withdraw.  I am afraid that we, in some cases, have just as much liberalism in so called "conservative churches" and "sound on the issues preachers" as we do in liberal churches and regarding liberal preachers, it just manifests itself in different ways.  "A church cannot have a kitchen because this is not the work of the church" but "a church can and must in some cases allow a school to regularly meet in their church building."  Go figure!

Cordially,
Don Martin