"Area-Wide Planning Meeting"
O. C. Birdwell
Kansas City, Missouri
City, county, and state organizations are being formed in many areas to discuss and plan the work of churches. Such an arrangement was inaugurated in Kansas City, February 17, 1963. The first assembly of the "Kansas City Area-Wide Planning Meeting" convened at 2:30 P. M. on this date at the "Van Brunt Church of Christ Building." Another meeting was conducted on March 17, 1963, at the same church building, and plans call for regular periodic meetings, with special meetings called if problems arise. I have the minutes of both meetings and quotations in this article will be taken from those minutes. The "Meeting" has a chairman, secretary, and is made up of "Elders and Appointed Representatives" from "Various Congregations." The assembly makes decisions. Before someone concludes that I endorse such an arrangement as this, I hasten to say that there is not one semblance of authority for it in the scriptures. It is, therefore, presumptuous and sinful.
After the roll call and opening prayer, the meetings were opened for business. In the first meeting a city-wide training program was discussed. The time and place for the program were discussed and decided upon. Also, a "city-wide" evangelistic meeting was brought up. It was suggested that conflict with the Kansas City Billy Graham Crusade be avoided.
The second meeting received two appeals for financial aid. Decision was made to limit future appeals to the Kansas City area, and those at the judgment of the Chairman. In this meeting it was reported that "Bro. Allen Bryant" (spelling theirs-OCB.) would have the "city-wide" training program. Salaries for the teachers were discussed; a teaching staff "was chosen and agreed upon." "Bro. Elbert Fulkerson" recommended that the ad heading in the Saturday Kansas City Star be changed. He suggested this heading: "The
Churches of Christ who believe in cooperation, in the Herald of Truth, in the support of orphans." And I thought I had seen the limit in unscriptural church names! O yes, "he suggested that the Antis be not included." He did not identify these characters; but I suppose he had in mind those who oppose the many unscriptural organizational arrangements built to do the work of the church. If this is true, he has little to worry about. Few would want to advertise services of the Lord's church under a man-made church title like he has suggested.
Chairman "Lowell Massey suggested that a committee be appointed to look further into an Area-Wide Gospel Meeting." A preacher was appointed and was asked to "choose an eldership" to work under. Another committee was suggested to hire a man for next year's training program. It was suggested that details of sponsorship could be worked out later. If this is not the work of a super-organization above the level of the local congregation, someone please tell me what it would take to make one!
Other matters were discussed and decided upon, but these will suffice to show that some Kansas City churches now have something more than a local eldership. There is a "Kansas City Area-Wide Planning Meeting," which has a chairman, secretary, and representatives from participating churches. The Meeting discusses and decides upon: dates and places for training programs, and meetings; committees to hire preachers; salaries to be paid; personnel to be hired; newspaper ads; and other things too numerous to mention. Friend, think a moment!
Almost every religious history book that I know about shows that the great apostasy of the first few centuries came about and was perpetuated by a perverted organizational setup. Elders from many churches met. They made decisions. They selected officials: bishops, metropolitans, patriarchs, and finally a "universal bishop." These "Area-Wide Meetings" were then called "synods" or "councils." The "synod" was simply a meeting or convention on religious matters. The dictionary says that a "council" is "an assembly of ecclesiastics convened to consider matters of doctrine, discipline, law, or morals." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary.) So, call them "synods," "councils," or "area-w de planning meetings," they are all the same thing. Their existence is a perversion of the New Testament plan.
What is the New Testament plan? Read Acts 14:23; Acts 20:17-32; Phil. 1:1; Titus 1: 5; and 1 Peter 5:1-4. Elders in every church; bishops to oversee the flock among them; this is what the Bible teaches. Also, read Deut. 4:2; Gal. 1:6-9; 2 John 9; and Rev. 22:1 8-19. Brethren, forsake these "area-wide" conferences; come back to the Bible way. You are way past the drifting stage!
Truth Magazine VIII: 1, pp.6-7 October 1963