Following the Pattern in Evangelism
We know that the Lord’s church is certainly authorized and obligated to work in the field of evangelism. The apostle Paul referred to the church as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), and we have numerous examples of congregations engaged in this important work (Philippians 1:3-5; 1 Thessalonians 1:8). The Scriptures not only inform us of the need for doing this task, but also set forth a pattern that the church must follow in performing it. Notice:
1) A church may support a preacher while he works with them in their own locality. Paul taught that “they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:14).
2) A congregation may also assist a man while he works in another area. The church at Philippi “sent once and again” to Paul while he was preaching in Thessalonica (Philippians 4:15-16).
3) It is also possible that several churches may send to an evangelist as he labors in the gospel. Paul said that he received money from “other churches, taking wages of them” while he was working in Corinth (2 Corinthians 11:8).
In all of these instances it should be noted that the fellowship of a local congregation was always directly with the preacher doing the work. Human organizations (such as ‘missionary societies’) were unheard of in the first century. And so-called ‘‘sponsoring churches’ did not exist because they would have involved a violation of local church autonomy and an abuse of the limitation on elders to oversee only “the flock of God which is among you” (1 Peter 5:2). The work of evangelism is vitally important. But it is also important to follow the authorized pattern for doing this work.