February 17, 2019

The World’s Fair Project of the Churches of Christ

By Robert H. Bunting

In commenting on the "exhibit of churches of Christ" at the World's Fair, brother Warren Lewis calls it "one of the most indicatively superior, collective activities of Christ's churches in modern times . . ." (North Atlantic Christian, August, 1964). The booklet, "The World's Fair story," describes this "collective activity of Christ's churches" as " . . . a program of evangelism at the New York World's Fair, directed by the Queens Church of Christ in Flushing, New York . . ." Thus, this is an evangelistic project of the churches of Christ under the direction of one church.

When churches of Christ conduct a collective activity as a joint project, who oversees that effort? Not a local congregation, for the local church is limited. The elders of a local church can oversee only "the flock among them" (1 Peter 5:1, 2). Any eldership or church that assumes the directorship of a work of the churches of Christ assumes more than God assigns. This combination of churches cannot be overseen by a committee or a board of directors, for these are excluded when God specifies the local church as the working unit.

The word "church" is used in two ways in describing God's people. Sometimes it is used to describe the entire body of the redeemed, and at other times it is used for the local congregation. Ephesians 5: 22-24 uses the term church in the universal sense and 1 Corinthians 1:2 uses the term in the local sense.

In the universal sense, the church is a relationship. It is not a functioning body. There are no synods, councils, conventions, mass meetings, or other means of activating the universal church. God has made no provisions for any organization or group of men to superintend or direct a brotherhood wide activity of the churches of Christ. The New Testament does not mention the office, qualifications or work of those to direct a project of the churches. The creation of a "director" or "steering committee" to cm ordinate a work of the churches of Christ is without scriptural authority.

The church in the local sense is not only a relationship, but it is an organization. It is through the local church that the evangelism (Phil. 1:1-5), edification (1 Cor1 4:2 6), and benevolence (Acts 6: 1; Tim. 5: 16) are carried on. The local church is limited in that elders can superintend only "the flock among them" (1 Pet. 5:1, 2). The New Testament mentions the work, office and qualifications of those that are to direct the affairs of the local church (I Tim. 3; Titus 1).

We read of the local church sending once and again to the need of a preacher (Phil. 4:15, 16), and of several churches sending wages to a preacher (2 Cor. 11:8). In Acts 11:22 we are told of a church sending a preacher to another city. By individual Christians teaching the word and the church supporting evangelists to preach the word, the gospel was preached to ' every creature under heaven". If we abide in the doctrine of Christ, we can do the same today.

The World's Fair project of the churches of Christ is another matter. It is a type of cooperation unknown to the New Testament. It is a coordinated project of the churches of Christ under the direction of the Queens church. The New Testament knows nothing of one church collecting funds from the churches of Christ that it might create and direct a project for the churches of Christ. Where is the scriptural authority for one church receiving funds from churches of Christ in order to build and direct a work for the churches?

The whole idea of one church planning and superintending a work for churches of Christ is contrary to the scriptures. Corruption in organization led to the Roman Catholic Church. One church directing an affair for the churches of Christ is a step in that direction. Elders are to tend the flock among them (1 Peter 5: 1, 2). Brethren, let us abide in the doctrine of Christ.

Truth Magazine IX: 12, pp. 14-15
September 1965