The Sponsoring Church Arrangement
Introduction: The scriptures present each local church as separate and autonomous (self-governing). For instance, each local church is to have its own overseeing elders (Acts 14: 23). These elders only have the oversight where they serve (I Pet. 5: 1-3). The apostasy that eventuated in Catholicism and the Pope of Rome over all churches had its beginning within the eldership, as some craved more power and control (cp. Acts 20: 28-31, 2 Thes. 2: 1-5). Greed, politics, and power have always resulted in destruction and the perversion of God's way.
I. God's wisdom in church autonomy is seen in the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 1: 11).
A. Five of these seven churches had doctrinal and moral problems and were told to repent. However, because they were separate entities, two of the seven had no flaws. Moreover, even the five flawed churches did not all have the same shortcomings (notice this in detail, Rev. 2; 3).
B. Had they each been under the same human controlling board, as denominationalism typically is, they would have all been characterized in precisely the same way. Hence, the wisdom of local church autonomy is seen. Also, appreciate that no one of these churches was over the others or functioned in some sort of sponsoring way in relationship to the others.
II. Man thinks he is smarter than God.
A. As just stated, God set up each local church to individually function. However, man thinks he can improve on God's plan.
B. We hear denominations saying, "We must accept John Doe as our preacher, even though we know he is homosexual because the board that controls all our churches must be obeyed," we hear.
a. Hence, religionists are "forced" to disobey God in order to keep their orders and creeds (Mk. 7: 13, I Cor. 6: 9-11).
C. Some religious schools exert tremendous influence over some local churches in being viewed as the source of preachers and elders for local churches (cp. 2 Tim. 2: 2, notice that the responsibility to produce preachers is enjoined on preachers).
III. A growing practice among some churches of Christ.
A. More local churches of Christ are adopting denominational practices. The sponsoring church arrangement as seen in the Herald of Truth Organization is destroying the autonomy of some churches of Christ.
B. This arrangement involves the pooling of resources into one common treasury. The Highlands church, the elders, oversee or sponsor the concerted effort of "teaching the lost."
a. Consider the biblical example in matters of the support of preachers in other areas: a church or churches sent directly to the preacher whom they were supporting: not to a missionary society or a receiving church that would then distribute the monies to the preacher or preachers (Phili. 4: 15-18, 2 Cor. 11: 8).
C. Based on this concept, I have received the following request: "Will your elders oversee our church?" As seen, elders are to oversee only the local church where they are members (Acts 14: 23; I Pet. 5: 1-3).
Conclusion: The sponsoring church is without biblical authority and is in sharp violation of the clear teaching of the independence of each local church. The so called sponsoring church practice is simply denominationalism, "Church of Christ style."