By Raymond Harris
Recently I received a bulletin wherein a church announced that the next Sunday was going to be “Dream Sunday.” Everyone was urged to “Come dream with us.” Then the question was posed, “What would you like to see us doing 1 year from now . . . 5 years . . . 10 years . . . 20 years.”
When one considers the mischief, division and digression of the last twenty years, to try to imagine what some churches will be doing in ten or twenty years is more like a night-mare than a dream.
As we view the current activities of some churches of Christ, it is hard to realize that the restoration movement in this country was born of the philosophy, “Back to the Bible.” What ever happened to the plea for “book, chapter and verse for all that we practiced”? Why do some preachers, elders and church members get angry when they are asked for the verses that authorize many of their current activities?
Over fifty years ago a preacher named Floyd Decker left the Christian Church because they were involved in practices he felt were unscriptural. Among those practices we find the following:
1. The Christian Church “has unscriptural positions in the church such as, educational directors, associate ministers and youth directors.”
2. The Christian Church built and maintained, “Missionary, benevolent and educational organizations to execute the work of the church.”
3. The Christian Church without Bible authority “celebrates special days such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Christmas, etc.”
4. The Christian Church “seeks to get crowds with youth meetings, campaigns for Christ, rallies, drives and promotions.”
5. The Christian Church “appeals to the social and physical nature of men by trying to draw them with carnivals, plays, choruses, dramatic groups, church camps, kitchens, fellowship halls and dinners.”
6. The Christian Church “owns, supports and operates schools for secular education beginning with kindergartens and going through theological schools.”
7. The Christian Church “has a compromising spirit. . has no regard for the authority of the Bible, bases its practice on the silence of the scriptures, and appeals to traditions of elders rather than to the simple unadulterated Gospel of Christ. “
Now, 50 years later, many liberal churches of Christ are practicing some or all of the above. But that’s just the beginning! Now that many churches have bolted away from the restraints of the Scriptures, there is no end to the humanly devised activities, programs and projects that will evolve as the years roll on.
In the past few years many churches of Christ have completely lost sight of their God given mission. Their major thrust is no longer the saving of the soul. Rather, they have turned to fulfilling the social, recreational and civic needs of the community. When Churches turn to such, they are correctly described as practicing “The Social Gospel.”
The past few years have seen a host of additional practices that brother Decker would never have “dreamed” possible in churches of Christ. Consider:
|1. Joy Busses||16. Timothy Classes|
|2. Reward Motivation||17. Investment Seminars|
|3. Sweet Heart Banquets||18. Bridal and Baby Showers|
|4. Annual Homecoming Sunday||19. Calligraphy Classes|
|5. Aerobic Exercise||20. Church Choruses|
|6. Dale Carnegie Courses||21. Divorce Recov. Seminar|
|7. Ski Retreats||22. Cooking & Sewing Classes|
|8. Blood-Mobile Day||23. Poem Writing|
|9. Sr. Citizens Ministry||24. Family Seminar|
|10. Singles Ministry||25. Puppet Ministry|
|11. Annual Church Bar-B-Q||26. Team sports|
|12. Macrame Classes||27. Baby sitting services|
|13. Family Movie Night||28 Skin Care Classes|
|14. Golf Tournaments||29. Youth Church|
|15. Dorcas Classes||30. Christian Drama|
All the foregoing are church activities that churches of Christ would not have “dreamed” of 25 years ago. But, they have ALL been dreamed up and entered into through the ensuing years. Elders of non-instrumental churches of Christ have planned, approved, promoted and to various degrees financed from the church treasury all of the foregoing activities. It shows how far brethren can go when they stop reading God’s word and start “Dreaming,” how they can outdo the denomination, round about.
Woe be to dreaming, scheming Churches that draw nigh to Christ with their mouths, and honor him with their lips,; but teach for doctrines the commandments of men!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 12, pp. 371-372
June 21, 1984