The Work of the Church:
Funding the Work of the Church
1 Corinthians 16:1-2
1. We have been discussing the work of the church.
2. It is singular in nature: the saving of souls. But such is done by means of evangelism, edification, benevolence.
3. As with so many other worthy efforts, such requires resources... read money!
4. How did the early church finance its work?
5. I want to quickly remind us that the Bible authorizes by explicit teaching (some say command), implicit teaching (some say inference), and example.
I. What does the New Testament, say about how the church conducted the monetary business of doing the work of the church?
A Evidently, Jesus and His group had a treasury, and Judas was the treasurer! John 12:6, 13:29.
B. Next in Acts we read of a treasury, at least implied, Acts 4:32-5:2.
1. What were these funds used for? To do the benevolent work of the church
2. We are not specifically told, but no doubt the work with the widows was funded from this treasury, Acts 6:1-4.
3. Implies a standing treasury.
C. Acts 11:27-30. Notice very carefully what is happening.
1. The monies were collected by the brethren. It stands to reason the procedure involved this standing treasury.
2. Then sent by a third party, i.e. Saul and Barnabas, to the elders of another church.
3. Very early in the church's history we see a standing treasury, which was used to assist other churches, and fulfill their responsibilities.
D. 1 Corinthians 16:1-2, Galatians 6:6-11.
1. The church is to do good to all men, especially the household of faith.
2. These monies were collected by the churches, given to Paul and he and others took the money to Jerusalem, Romans 15:22-28, Acts 20:1-5, 2 Corinthians 8: 16-21. This gift for all men, 2 Corinthians 9:10-13.
3. Stands to reason that this was delivered to the elders as the earlier pattern suggests, Acts 21:15-19. See Acts 11:27-30
E. But we also learn that such funds can used to help preach the gospel.
1. Philippians 1:5.
2. What was the fellowship? Philippians 4:10-18.
3. Compare 2 Corinthians 11:8-9.
F. So now we see that the collection and the treasury that results can be used to carry on the work of the church in benevolence and evangelism.
G. From all that we learn:
1. The church can have a standing treasury to which the members contribute on a weekly basis, from which the work of the church can be carried out.
2. Funds from that treasury can be entrusted to men who are not elders, to accomplish a task.
3. It can be sent to another group of elders to be used at their discretion to meet benevolent needs of all men, or preach the gospel both of which are works of the church.
4. We have then a pattern set by which the church may operate.
II. What can the church do with the collection?
A. We need to remind ourselves that each congregation of the Lord's church is autonomous.
1. What does that mean? From two Greek words "autos" meaning self, and "nomos" meaning law, that is self governing.
2. There is no organization of the church larger than the local congregation on earth.
3. There is a sense of which we speak of the church as a whole, the brotherhood, but there is no organization or functional body beyond the local church.
4. Each church governs itself and answers only to the head of the church which is Christ.
5. One church does not exercise control over another. Can they cooperate? How?
B. What can the church do with the collection?
1. If the work of the church is done through evangelism, edification, and benevolence it stands to reason we can use the money out of the treasury to do those three things.
3. God has left the individual congregations room for judgment as to how and in what way the money can be spent. They must answer to the Lord for judgments.
a. Can we buy a building in which to meet? Yes.
b. Can we buy that which meets the needs of edification?
c. Can we buy services that allow the meeting of needs to benevolent cases for all men?
d. Can we send the money to another congregation or individual to teach the gospel?
B. How? According to the patterns and examples of the scriptures.
1. It can be used to help individuals. "Do good to all men, especially the household of faith..." Compare: 2 Corinthians 9:10-13 where Paul said the funds were to be shared with all.
2. Or it can with other congregations be entrusted to a third group of men who administer the monies to another congregation or to individuals.
3. It can be sent to another congregation to be used as they see fit.
4. Does the first congregation lose it autonomy in so doing? No, it can always exercise its autonomy and stop sending the money, as this congregation has done.
C. Can the money be misspent? Abused? Indeed it can.
1. To prevent this, God has placed elders, men of judgment in a place of authority to prevent that very thing.
2. Each congregation decides how and where it will use its money and must answer to the Lord for its use.
1. I am grateful for the generosity of this good church which allows so much to be done by means of evangelism, edification and benevolence.
2. I am also grateful for our good elders who use sound judgment as these funds are administered.
Michael D. Greene Lehman Avenue church of Christ, 7-5-09
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