Readin' the Bulletins
Most churches of any considerable size now publish a bulletin. Some of these bulletins are excellent, containing informative and scriptural articles. Others are little more than church gossip columns or church social calendars interspersed with a selection of poems. Some are propaganda media through which the churches are being led into progressive digression. Some things I read in bulletins of the institutional churches are downright shocking. Some things recently observed I wish to share with you in this article
Church Charges for Bible Classes
In the bulletin of the Walnut Avenue church in Canton, Ohio (Nov. 25, 1962), announcement is made concerning "our area wide training school" to be conducted in April, 1963. The bulletin states that one-dollar registration fee will be charged and one-dollar tuition must be paid for each course taken. In connection with this announcement the following statement is made: "A small charge of 50c per child will -be made to cover materials and other expenses . . . You couldn't possibly get 'baby-sitting' this cheaply, and so you see the classes will serve two purposes." I suppose the two purposes are Bible teaching and baby-sitting.
Classes conducted by some churches actually amount to little more than cheap or free baby-sitting, since the children are taught such religiously useless arts as leather craft and art experience.
But "charge" is to be made for these classes. Now who is making this "charge"? --The church? It is alright for the church to charge fifty cents to cover costs of "materials and other expenses," tis certainly would not be out of order to rent pews too (as the sectarians used to do). This church might also consider charging 25c to partake of the Lord's Supper "to cover materials and other expenses." Until now I had thought 1 Cor. 16:1, 2 constituted an exclusive pattern for raising congregational funds. But we are learning things from some of our liberal brethren! ! !
Apartment for Rent
The same Canton church published an article in its bulletin rebuking a preacher for criticizing a church who advertised in its bulletin that one of its members had an apartment for rent (Dec. 16, 1962). The editor remarked "... he took up much more space with it (i.e. his criticisms -- CW) than the other fellow ... could possibly have taken up with the 'apartment for rent' ad!" The editor further asked: "How do we know but what the brother who had an apartment for rent needed the money from it for his livelihood? "
I happen to know brethren who run service stations, restaurants, dry clearing establishments, grocery stores and other business enterprises. I know that these brethren depend upon earnings from these businesses for their livelihood. Shall we therefore turn church bulletins into classified ad sections to advertise these brethren's businesses?
Is there scriptural authority for a church to publish bulletins to advertise service stations, grocery stores and apartments for rent? Bulletins should be used as teaching media, and not as competitors to the advertising sections in our local newspapers.
The September 16, 1962 issue of the Collingswood, New Jersey church bulletin has an article entitled "Restorationism Quenches the Spirit." The editor decries what he calls "the concept of 'blue-print' authority." This he defines to be the disposition that "asserts that a believer cannot speak, believe, or act except by explicit authorization of some patent rule." It seems that I faintly remember a biblical warning about going beyond that which is written (authorized) --Take a peek at Rev. 22:18, 19 and 2 John 9. This disposition to rebel at being bound by scripture correctly depicts the modernistic spirit now permeating many churches of Christ.
With this anti-nomian spirit, it should not astonish us to learn that on the back page of the bulletin referred to services are announced for "CHILDREN'S CHURCH." Who the elders and deacons of the "CHILDREN'S CHURCH" are, we are not informed. But they must be "children" who married very young, if they meet the qualifications set forth in 1 Tim. 3 and Titus 1. Or perhaps the elders of the Collingswood church are overseers of two churches -- the one over which they were appointed and the "CHILDREN'S CHURCH" also! See where some brethren are headed? ? ? ?
"Do Nothing" and "Watchdog" Churches
The Forest Hill bulletin of Cleveland, Ohio (Sept. 4,1962) has an article in it with this paragraph:
"Just as people are divided into spectators and participants, so are churches. Some churches never do anything except criticize the churches who do something. They have withdrawn from the area of activity. They feel secure in their role of 'watchdogs.' They have decided they would rather do nothing than do something and do it wrong. Their religion is reduced to keeping up with and commenting on kitchens in church buildings and congregations who help orphans. They think they are the most religious of people, and actually they are the least. For they have withdrawn from living religion in order that they might criticize the religion of others."
Like the woman who teaches that a man should not teach, and the fellow who will debate against debating, this brother is very critical of criticizing. He criticizes people who think they are the most religious when they are not. Apparently the editor thinks that those who eat with him in his kitchen and who enjoy "skating fellowships" with him are the most religious. He didn't quite hide his modesty!! He thinks himself to be more religious than those whom he criticizes for thinking they are most religious.
Now after all this talk about these churches who do so much and are criticized for doing so, you would think that this church is really evangelizing the world. The Forest Hills church has a weekly budget of $1071.54. Their bulletin reports that the stupendous sum of $25 EACH MONTH is spent for evangelism!
I have before me now two issues of the bulletin of one of these churches that comments on church kitchens, etc., and that is supposed to be doing nothing. Its evangelistic expense for November, 1962 was $1920. In December this "do nothing" "watchdog" church spent $3,025 for gospel preaching. Yet its weekly contribution is less than Forest Hill's. And Forest Hills spends $25 EVERY MONTH in outside evangelism! Its rather easy to see who is doing the criticizing and who is doing the work.
While the liberal churches are building kitchens, fellowship halls, and supporting human institutions of all sorts, faithful churches are preaching the gospel and caring for their own needy. The fruit of years to come will show the wisdom of the latter and the folly of the former.
Answering Some False Charges
Recently several hundred sample copies of the December special issue of TRUTH MAGAZINE were mailed into Indianapolis. A "notorious" "ultra-liberal" Indianapolis preacher took exception (through his bulletin) to this mailing of sample copies.
He charged that we had made an attack upon the Irvington church in Indianapolis. But the fact is that we made no attack upon anyone. We simply mailed sample copies of TRUTH MAGAZINE to almost every member of the church in Indianapolis whose address we could secure. How this could be construed to be an attack upon the Irvington church particularly, only this wrough-up brother can tell.
Furthermore, this preacher charged that we had done the very thing that we condemn. WE CONDEMN CHURCHES BUILDING AND MAINTAINING HUMAN INSTITUTIONS THROUGH WHICH TO DO THEIR WORK--whether these institutions be educational, evangelistic or benevolent in nature. TRUTH MAGAZINE was alleged to be such an institution. We will admit the charge IF our brother will prove (1) that TRUTH MAGAZINE was founded by a church or churches; (2) that TRUTH MAGAZINE is maintained by donations from any church; (3) or that any church is doing any parts of its work through TRUTH MAGAZINE.
Truth Magazine VII: 6, pp. 4-5