Can Churches Support Schools?

By C. Titus Edwards

There are many people in the church who believe that it is right for a church to support a “Christian college.” In this article we want to consider whether or not it is right for a church to do so.

Let us establish some principles which will help us to understand whether or not churches supporting colleges is wrong.

1. The church is spiritual in nature (Jn. 18:36).

2. The work of the church is spiritual consisting of preaching the gospel (1 Tim. 3:15), relieving needy saints (Acts 4:32-35), and building itself up (Eph. 4:11-16). Money from the treasury may be used to do this work.

3. God made the church in such a way as to be sufficient to accomplish its work (Eph. 3:10-I1). The church is fully capable of preaching the gospel, relieving needy saints, and edifying itself through the framework of the local congregation.

4. To use the Lord’s money for anything else but its prescribed work is to go beyond the doctrine of Christ (1 Cor. 16; Phil. 4:15-16; 2 Jn. 9; Mt. 7:23).

When one understands these principles, the question boils down to a matter of authority. Where is the authority for a church to donate money to a college (or any other human institution) to do its work? None has yet been found! Therefore, to do so is to work lawlessness and go beyond the doctrine of Christ!

Some have tried to justify churches supporting colleges by saying that it is only a method of training preachers, teachers; and elders. Admittedly, training the young (and others) to be more productive in the Lord’s work i& part of edification and authorized by God. But supporting a college to do part of that work is not the church using a method. The church is simply providing the money,.so that a human institution may decide what methods are used. “Method” refers to a form of action. A college is not a method (how), it is an organization (who) that will have to use methods to get the job done. If the church is sufficient, why cannot it arrange and oversee the methods (work) itself? God told the church to edify itself! To support a college to do, that work is to put a human institution between the church and the work it is to do, which is unnecessary and unauthorized. (I am assuming that all of us know the difference between donating money to an organization and buying a service or. product from an organization.)

Let us also understand that even “Christian colleges” are secular educational institutions. Most give courses in many phases of life, not just the Bible. Most of these are liberal arts colleges offering liberal arts degrees. They provide much of the same things that other colleges would (athletics, plays, etc.). The church’s work does not extend into these other areas. It is not for the church to provide secular education. Remember; the church’s work is spiritual! If some brethren still maintain that if a church supports a school it is simply using a method, then they have the church working to provide secular education, athletics, and all that goes with it!

Some .protest that these schools are doing a good work. Even if that be the case, that does not, mean they are authorized by God for the church to support. Hospitals do good works. Should churches be supporting them? The church is not under a blanket authorization to do good works. It was given specific works to be done. The individual Christian is to be ready to do good works, but there is a difference in what a Christian can do, as an individual, and what the church can do (Mt. 18:15-17; 1 Tim. 5:16).

Let is be clearly understood that I have nothing against the right of a school with a Bible department to exist. I am glad that such do exist. I appreciate the good work that they do and that young people can receive Bible instruction while furthering their education. It is commendable that these schools try to maintain a good moral environment that cannot be found among other schools. Christians, as individuals, may join together in any legitimate business endeavor. The problem is not in their right to exist, whether Christians can operate them, or even whether individuals can support them, but whether a church can contribute money to them.

Let each congregation recognize its God given work and be zealous to accomplish it. Let us make sure that we are properly edifying ourselves and training the young and others so there will be qualified and able men and women to work in the Lord’s vineyard. Also let each congregation recognize its limitations of doing the Lord’s work in the Lord’s way and be fully determined to abide in the doctrine of Christ.

Truth Magazine XXIII: 25, p. 402
June 21, 1979