San Antonio, Texas -- A Southern Baptist medical missionary says the denomination's "million dollar fad" in America is to build big buildings -- "Christian Country Clubs" -- while given "crumbs from the table "to work among the needy."

Sam Cannata, assigned to Africa and temporarily a missionary-in-residence at Baylor University, told a convention of Texas Baptist men that Southern Baptists are middle-to-upper class Americans who have isolated themselves from the poor.

Although churches need buildings, he said, "we've gone overboard," providing all sorts of facilities -- family life centers, bowling alleys, saunas and gymnasiums. Thousands "who drive by these buildings everyday are angry at the injustice these buildings represent," he said. -- Religious News, Chattanooga Times.

This Baptist missionary has identified a major problem shared by nearly all the religious organizations of today, including the Church of Christ. Most of our time, effort and money is given for material things of this world and all for our own selfish use. There is little concern, by comparison, for reaching the lost of the world with the gospel or trying to feed the hungry or clothe the naked of the world. And most of what little we do is all done by proxy paid for by our small financial contributions. Judgement is coming (cf. Matt. 25:31-46). And until individual Christians have the faith and courage to stand up forcefully and be counted, break the institutional bondage that holds them as slaves, and begin to accept and act upon their personal freedom in Christ to do His will, things will only get worse. Perhaps this is the major need in all denominations, Baptists, Methodists, Christian Church, and the Church of Christ. Denominationalism is a curse and is anti-scriptural in all its forms and by whatever name it is called! We need to resurrect the concept of being Christians only, only Christians! In our earlier history that was our concern and plea. Thousands responded. Now the emphasis is upon the Church of Christ, our denomination! Trying to get people to leave their denomination and join ours! But it is still true as we used to preach it, one denomination is as good as another and they are all wrong! Converting people to the Church of Christ Church does not make a Christian only -- of anyone.

"Sirs We Would See Jesus". Writing under the above heading a preacher wrote the following pointed ideas:

A modern slogan among us has been: "Investigate the Church of Christ." The impression given is that people should find a sign reading, "Church of Christ" and investigate those people worshipping behind it. A very popular tract begins, "Church of Christ-- Who are These People?" I will tell you who they are. They are, an all-too-often proud group of weak and sinning people, many of whom are constantly disputing and dividing, and some of whom are drunkards, adulterers, and liars, a pretty motley lot! No wonder we find it difficult to get people to become members of the church, give to the church, be loyal to the church, and put the church first. There is not very much that is attractive enough to beget such a response.

The only thing in the body of Christ worth investigating is its Head, not its members. The only thing of which the kingdom can boast is its King - not its citizens. The authority of the King must be magnified and our own ineptitude in obedience be conceded. Only when all of this is clearly established are we in position, very humbly, to invite others to join us in our effort to follow Jesus - to be truly a Church of Christ. The Apostle Paul said it this way: "We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Cor. 4:5). Sewell Hall, Christianity Magazine, December 1984.

A Frustration Shared by Hundreds -- Who Care!

"Most of the time I am in despair that we shall ever be 'just Christians' again and go back to our lofty ideal of 'speaking where the Bible speaks,' etc. Have we become so lost from the simplicity and beauty that Jesus offers? Why have we become so lazy that we let preachers and traditions dictate our thoughts? Thank you for The Examiner. Any honest examination of scriptures is welcome and needed." Chattanooga, TN (Editor's Note: This lady, a very dedicated Christian, expresses the frustration and concern of thousands of other Christians over the country. Her questions are vital and to the heart of the matter. How would you answer her questions?)

I saw a cartoon in the newspaper recently where the Russian ruler was talking to the highest military general. The caption was: "Why fight a war with Americans when we can just wait and take over after they are all on drugs?" That is a very sobering thought. At the rate things are going they won't have to wait long.

Alcohol and drugs are really "in" today. We are building a nation of alcoholics and drug addicts. It is rampant in nearly all sports, professional and even non-professional. It is the thing in schools and colleges. In high society and low society the menace is growing. Perhaps its greatest use and promotion can be found in the music field, especially rock. It is found at the prom and the dance. In the homes of the rich and poor, cabarets, dives and dens! It is a multi-million dollar business. It is, to me, one strong evidence that America's days are numbered. If there is not a radical change, I believe that the Russian view is correct. It can happen, especially if we add in the graft, greed, corruption, theft, murders, and other crimes of all sorts. America is a "sick" nation. So few really care! God's people make little difference in the world. The "light" has gone out and the salt has lost its savor! May God have mercy upon our children and grandchildren when those days come. God is not mocked!

Field Report in Gospel Advocate: Preacher from Huntsville, AL: "I preached a powerful sermon and baptized a fine man, and the next Sunday I preached another powerful sermon and baptized another man..." He must be a "powerful" preacher! If one must boast one should make it good.

Monastery Christianity or Why We Are Not Reaching the Lost. "Over and over we hear the same refrain, the church is not growing because we cannot convert anybody. Then we talk about all the reasons why the world is not interested in the gospel anymore. By the time we get through, we are so completely discouraged we don't even try. So we consign ourselves to the role of the 'most misunderstood religious body of our day.' Then we crawl into our own little 'MONASTERIES' to die, bounded by the high walls of isolation."

So writes Rodney Miller in the Par Street Anchor. And he is right, you know. We have all heard it and participated in this "pity poor us" type of discouraging talk. "People are just not interested in the gospel today." "Everyone is too pre-occupied with the things of the world." "Those in all the various religious bodies are snug and smug, totally satisfied and unconcerned." And on and on our excuses go for our failure to even try to reach the lost with any individual effort. So, to our "monasteries" (church buildings) we crawl to die, bounded by the high walls of isolation. Therein we feel secure and in this we feel "snug and smug."

Miller says "our failure to reach the lost is a result of our failure to know the heart of Jesus Christ." Moreover, he claims that "the heart of the problem is that we have lost our road map, the Divine Plan for reaching people...which is found in the gospels" and demonstrated by Jesus Himself.

"When we open the Gospels we see the Lord as He relates to the LOST world. We see Him as He relates to INDIVIDUALS lost in the clutches of Satan. We see him one on one with the woman at the well, and also with the woman taken in adultery. We see Him when outcast of that ancient society flocked to Him so that they might see and hear what He had to say. There were basically two reasons why the Pharisees hated Him so much. First, was His teaching on the Sabbath day. Second, was His love for and association with the 'trash,' with the street people, with the prostitutes and pimps, with the Roman Tax Collectors...and with the sick and diseased." Jesus was concerned with and loved publicans and sinners, the outcasts of society. He loved those people! Jesus said, "It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick; I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mark 2:17). "The Pharisee had lost all compassion for those people and instead...substituted religious deeds like sacrifices" [or "going to church," "attending worship services," sitting on a pew in the comfortable church building at the appointed times to do the appointed "five items of worship!" -- CAH]. "What good were the sacrifices of these Pharisees when they offered them from a heart that didn't love the very people that Jesus came to earth to die for?...the religious people of His day were too good, too righteous, too separated, too busy doing religious things to love the lost world. So, to this pompous group of religionists He turns to say: "What I really want from you is compassion, not your sacrifices or religious doings."

Miller says, "Brethren, that is what is missing today. The only way we know to deal with sin is either to participate in it or isolate ourselves from it... We have not learned how to love the sinner and reject the sin... Therefore, the only way we know how to live in today's world is crawl into our monasteries and isolate ourselves from it. All monastical movements are sterile and are doomed to failure."

"Where is our love for those whom God loves, and for whom Christ died? Brethren, we don't love a lost world. We only want to judge it. Our Lord has told us to love the lost world and He would take care of the judging.

"When we get to the point where we can love the unlovely, we can better understand why Jesus was willing to die for me. After all, how much more unlovely can you get than when Jesus Christ reached out to one lost soul such as me?" Brother Miller has made some challenging observations.