Bible Basics: Congregational Cooperation

By Earl Robertson

The local church-congregation-is subject only to the Lord, and is independent of all other congregations. It is equal to every other church and is capable of governing its own affairs through its God-given organization. Each church being under Christ, functioning according to the commission of Christ, must, therefore, be governed alike and coo the same work. No differences obtain among the congregations identified in the New Testament as-pertaining to identity, organization, work and worship.

This being true, what is the sphere in which churches cooperated? The case of Antioch and Jerusalem will answer this question. “And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be a great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: which also they did, and s*t it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul”/(Acts 11:27-30). This is a case of one church helping another church in benevolence. Antioch contributed to Jerusalem only when Jerusalem was in need. The Jerusalem church was not trying to do a work for the whole brotherhood, it was merely trying to do its own work. This same truth is exemplified in 1 Cor. 16:1-4; 2 Cor. 8:12-15; 9:12-15.

These scriptures do not support some church today becoming a sponsoring church io do the work of all the churches. No church in the New Testament sent funds to another church for that receiving church to forward the funds on to some place else for a work to be done. When funds were sent in the First Century from one church to another church, it was always sent directly to the need and never sent through another church! This way no church became the agent for another church. Do you believers in sponsoring churches know of a passage that either commands or gives an example of one church being the agent of another church? Why then depart from the Lord’s word in this matter and create something bigger than the local church? Equality is taught in the scriptures (2 Cor. 8:14).

If there is equality there can be no agency among congregations. Agency subordinates; subordination destroys equality!

Truth Magazine XXIII: 17, pp. 284-285
April 26, 1979