The denominational world works much like this. Colonialism is the only thing many of them even know. It probably started with the Catholic Church as they spread along with the rest of the Holy Roman Empire. Now certainly we should be desiring to spread the gospel to all the world as the great commission commands, and we should seek to extend God’s authority to all by teaching them to submit themselves to his will. There is a difference in spreading the gospel and extending my authority or my churches authority. Recently some circumstances and certain statements have caused me to wonder if some congregations of the Lord’s church are taking on the denominational structure of a mother church and her baby churches. I must say here that I am thankful that the Florence Blvd. church of Christ, which supported the work here in Butler, was not and is not like some others. What makes an eldership think that since it supports a work financially it can dictate how that work is carried out? The scriptures teach that there should be elders in every church. Sometimes when there are not elders in one congregation, another that has elders thinks and even acts as though it has control of the other.
In conversation the other day, a man told me that their congregation was supporting a particular work and explained that the newly planted church was “under our elders”. In another situation the elders of the congregation supporting a work hire the preacher rather than allowing the congregation which will have to work with him to choose the man best suited to them. Have we lost touch with the Biblical doctrine of autonomy? There is to be one head, Christ; an eldership over each congregation; and never an eldership over two congregations. There is a way for a congregation to handle a supported work that is not scriptural: stop supporting it. We have others who are trying through their papers or via other means to control other congregations. One preacher after being written up in a paper had a ready response that should be sufficient to cover the situation. He simply replied that the elders at the congregation where he preached knew what he believed and taught and if any correction needed to be made they would be the ones to make it. Sometimes an eldership doesn’t make the corrections that need to be made, but that doesn’t give another congregation the right to take over. It is sad and painful to see entire congregations go astray, but if others go beyond the limits of their authority to attempt to bring them back then we have two tragedies in place of one. We need to lovingly exhort one another. We need to truthfully teach one another. We need to never go beyond the authority of the scriptures, even for a good cause. The end does not justify sinful means. Leave colonialism to the politicians, it has no place in New Testament Christianity.