Organization and Function

Luther Blackmon
Clermont, Florida

I asked a preacher, who defends Herald of Truth, why he thinks the Missionary Society is unscriptural. He said, "The Missionary Society is wrong because it is a functional organization larger than a congregation, and therefore violates the New Testament pattern of church organization." I asked him if the Herald of Truth, where one church directs and oversees the work supported by thousands of other churches, does not violate the New Testament pattern of congregational function. He said "the New Testament limits the organization of the church (nothing larger than a congregation), but does not limit its function." Look that one over. The very purpose of organization is that of function. And when the Lord limited the organization of the church He thereby, and to the same extent, limited its function.

Peter told the elders to feed and oversee "the flock which is among you" (I Pet. 5: 12). That means that elders are to oversee the church WHERE THEY ARE ELDERS. That includes all the work of that church. And it also means that their "oversight" begins and ends with that church and its work. Paul told the Ephesian elders to ". . . take heed unto ... the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers" (Acts 20:28). One set of elders over one flock.

But let us do a little speculating. Suppose the churches of Christ decide that we are not utilizing our spiritual and financial strength to the fullest. And, once more, as in 1849 we decide that the solution lies in organized cooperation. We have seen the disastrous results of the 1849 decision on cooperation and feel some apprehension. Then somebody comes up with a new approach. He says "let us have a Missionary Society, but not like the one set up by our forefathers. Let us have an organization with all the official posts, president, vice president, managers, etc., filled by elders of the church and all of them elders in one congregation. Then if criticism comes, as it surely will, we can quiet their fear' by reminding the people that all the work will he under the Quicksand Church of Christ."

Everyone, who will allow himself to take a hard and honest look at the situation, knows that the elders at Highland in Abilene are over more than the Highland Church, just as surely as the elders of the imaginary Quicksand Church are over more than the church.

Some may think this is not a fair comparison because you would have the elders over a human organization as well as over the church. But, since when has there been much protest against elders being over a human organization? For example, benevolent organizations. And don't kid yourself that Herald of Truth is just a radio program. What did Paul Harvey mean when he said, "I have been invited by The Herald of Truth to speak to a group of church people in Nashville." Like the innovations of the past century, Herald of Truth has done far more harm to the body of Christ than it will ever do good.

February 18, 1971