The clergy system within Church of Christ Churches (C of C Churches) is deeply entrenched and largely in control of everything. The vested interests and power of the Pulpit Minister/Clergy can not be overestimated. They are the power-brokers in the Church. In the last fifty years there has sprung up a multitude of expensive, highly-cherished and praised arrangements dedicated to the increase, training and perpetuation of the clergy system. The seats of power are the universities, colleges, and the special schools for the development and training of the professional minister who will earn his living and compensation benefits from that profession. He will be hired as an employee of some Church, school or related organization. Who knows, he may obtain the academic credentials to be employed by the local church institution as a Consultant! We do have this class of hired professional now and they collect a hefty fee for their expertise (?) about how to organize and "Grow A Church." These ideas, and these practices, seems to indicate that the more the training the more the pay.
Abilene Christian University (ACU) is now completing an impressive 18.5 million dollar Center for Biblical Studies as an addition to their already large facilities and staff for the higher education of the C of C Church clergy. This theological Seminary will compare favorably with the theological Seminaries of the other denominations; and bring a great sense of pride to all C of C Church members as more and more ACU-trained "theologians" are available to fill the pulpits in C of C Churches. The other denominations have their highly trained clergy and theologians and the C of C Church must do likewise.
ACU is not alone in the production of theologians and seminarians of the C of C Church brand or training. Most of the older schools of the C of C Church variety (and there are several kinds) feature their preacher (Minister) training activities: Harding, David Lipscomb, Freed-Hardeman, Pepperdine, Florida College, Alabama Christian, and others. The emphasis and success of these human institutions deceives honest and good men and women into believing that these schools are vital, even scriptural, and therefore they should be supported financially and otherwise. MILLIONS of dollars are poured into these human and wholly unnecessary institutions! This deception of the need for "preacher" or "Ministerial Training" helps get contributions from honest, dedicated Christians who mistakenly think that they are doing "God's service" in helping erect human institutions.
David Lipscomb University has just launched another financial campaign to enlarge that operation. The goal is "to raise $35 million to $50 million by the university's centennial birthday in 1991." That is no small amount even in this day of big spending. It is probably more money than all the C of C Churches in Tennessee have spent for preaching the gospel to the lost of the world during the last twenty years! But, then, training these "pulpit fillers" to speak to do-nothing Church members at the appointed "Church services" and keeping them in line and comfortable is far more important than saving the lost!! How sad. What a mess C of C Churches have made for themselves.
Some deluded Elderships have even put these human institutions in the church budget for regular or annual contributions. Thus through the ignorance, deception, and vanity of men the clergy-laity system becomes more and more firmly entrenched among C of C Churches. And the end is not yet!
In addition to the larger universities and colleges, there is an increasing number of smaller so-called Bible colleges, such as: International Bible College, Magnolia Bible College, Alabama School of Religion (doesn't that name sound impressive and like the other denominations?). There is one of these little "giants" in Cookeville, TN, a "preacher-factory," that fancies itself as a high-powered theological seminary. They really attempt to make their men into "doctors of the law," meaning mostly their "law," as derived by logic and syllogisms as their gurus declare such in papal fashion. They can't be wrong and they can spell it all out down to a gnat's hair, because logic and human reason, when correctly used (and THEY always do that, of course, getting the answer that they already know!), cannot possibly be wrong as they see it. Hence, for all practical purposes these "great ones" are as infallible as if they were guided directly by the Holy Spirit as were the apostles of Christ. What do they need with the Holy Spirit's guidance when they have logic and the brilliance of human reason going for them? Their trust is in themselves that they are righteous as a result of their wisdom. No one can feel more secure than that.
Also, there are close to twenty of these smaller schools scattered over the country and even in other countries. Our brethren in years gone by often referred to them as "preacher-factories" that is, where a man goes and they make a preacher out of him. Sometimes they called them "preacher incubators" where young, and often older, men go "get on the nest" and get "hatched out" as a fledgling preacher. While the language may sound crude, when you back off and objectively look at the situation, it is a rather accurate description of what happens. It has worsened in the last 40 years.
We must not overlook the rash of "preacher schools" that has broken out in the last 20 years These are real "preacher incubators" and they "hatch" out a particular brand of clergyman. Let me name a few of these as examples and tell you something of what they claim for themselves.
1) Institute for Christian Studies, Austin, TX. The claim is that they are "Educating for Ministry," "offering the Bachelor of Biblical Studies" and a "Bachelor of Science in Biblical Studies." It is claimed to be a "Program of Training for the Ministry" What they mean in layman's language is that they will train one to seek employment by some Church institution as the hired, professional Pulpit Minister. He will be qualified to earn his living as one of the Church employees. That is, he will become a part of the clergy system.
2) Memphis School of Preaching. This one is owned and operated by the Knight Arnold C of C Church, so I am told. This particular "preacher factory" is very, very confident that their "product" is of the very best quality; completely sound in the faith without doubt, and can deliver the doctrine received without addition and subtraction. A graduate of this clergy training school would be a prize employee for any Church hunting a Pulpit Minister who has all the answers and is absolutely certain about everything he will pour forth in his pulpit declarations. This certainty comes from the infallible use of logic and human reason applied to the Scriptures. This is one of the main centers, if not the place of the papal seat, for all the assumed infallible use of logic and human reason. You can count on each graduate having been properly programmed to spew out all the right, sound doctrine and shibboleths with the full support of logic, syllogisms, and human reason. They may not really understand the stuff, but they can pour it forth and it will be the exact, final word on the subject.
3) East Tennessee School of Preaching and Missions. Their advertising proclaims that "You are Needed to Fill an Empty Pulpit." In other words, there is a pulpit job out there for all "hatched" from their "incubator" or "preacher factory." If you want a job, attend this school and they will prepare you for the role of a professional Pulpit Minister.
4) Southeast School of Biblical Studies, also located in Austin, TX. This one goes a step further--they even have a "Wives Program." Surely the Pulpit Minister's wife needs to be properly trained for her unique role. She needs to be trained in how to go to the door with her husband, after the sermonic declaration, to take her place along side her husband to meet and greet all the parishioners as they leave the sanctuary. The wife needs to learn all the expected "graces" for her job. She must learn how to be properly attired, how to shake hands with grace and dignity as she smiles in just the proper way. After all the preacher's wife must also be a "saleable item" in the hiring of a professional minister. She must know how to set the example in all ways.
In fact, some Churches seem to select the Minister largely on the ability of his wife as a "mixer" and a teacher or co-worker with her husband. In this way the Church can get two professionals for the price of one! Cheapskates!
5) Florida School of Preaching, Lakeland, FL. They advertise with: "So You Want To Preach?" then they tell you to "consider" their training factory. The implication clearly is that if you want to preach you definitely must first be "hatched" or trained at some such school. You can't just go everywhere preaching the word as the early disciples did (Acts 8:4). Oh, you could do that all right just as the early disciples did it; but they mean if you expect to be hired as an employee of some Church organization as the Pulpit Minister, you definitely must first be trained at some such school. Being a Christian and a student of God's word is not enough (usually) to qualify for the profession of Ministry.
6) Bristol Road School of Biblical Studies, Flint, MI. They advertise "Seven Reasons" for considering their preacher-making business operated by that Church. Professional "grooming" is offered at that school.
7) Preston Road School of Preaching, Dallas, TX. This one has been around for several years operated by this Church. It has produced a large number of hired, professional Pulpit Ministers.
8) Brown Trail School of Preaching, Ft. Worth. They feature "A Program for Men Serious About Preaching." I guess that they mean if you are not serious about this then you should go to one of the other schools. In their ad they show a picture of an empty pulpit, with no clergyman to fill it, and raise this question: "Will you fill this pulpit?" In other words, there is a job waiting for you out there! There are many empty pulpits out there that need be filled by some hired professional. Preaching and filling a pulpit have come to be equivalent terms today. In the New Convenant Scriptures we do read of "preaching the gospel," but not a word about "filling a pulpit" or a "Pulpit Minister."
9) Harding School of Biblical Studies, Memphis, TN. This is an offshoot of Harding University. They advertise that they offer a "Concentrated Training for Preachers and Christian Ministry." Did you get that? They not only boil down to a "concentrated training" what it takes to make a professional preacher, but they also have "Concentrated training for...Christian Ministry." Wonder what that is? That must be a catch-all term that covers all the other types of professional, hired Church employees or Ministers so numerous today. Such as: Youth Minister, Hospital Minister, Educational Minister, Associate Minister, Minister of Involvement, Minister of Discipleship, Minister of Concern, Singles Minister, Minister to the Elderly, and others of like kind. NONE of which you learn about from God's word. In all of this C of C Churches are copy-catting the other denominations.
This is not all of these preacher schools, but it should be enough to help us see what the situation really is, if indeed we have eyes to see and a heart willing to understand. It is no wonder that there is a need for a Minister and Church Referral Services, operating out of Madison, TN. They publish two lists each month, each costing $35. One is a list of "Ministers Seeking Employment" and the other a listing of "Churches Seeking Ministers" to employ/hire. Think about that. Here we have "Ministers" seeking "employment" as a "Minister" of a Church organization! THESE MEN WORK FOR THE CHURCH INSTITUTION, they are NOT ministers of Christ Jesus! They are employees of that Church organization just like the secretary or the janitor. There is absolutely no ESSENTIAL difference between the C of C Church Pulpit Minister and the hired professional Ministers or Pastors of the other denominations.
When will we wake up to the digression and departure from God's will and way that has taken place on the part of the disciples of Jesus who are now enslaved in the C of C Churches? Church institutions are NOT of the Lord Jesus. They all lead away from Him. He is NOT the "Head" of any Church ORGANIZATION or INSTITUTION of any kind, regardless of the claims to such or the name by which it may be called. He is the Head of the "body" of the redeemed ones; saved individuals, His called out people. He is the Head of each redeemed person, one by one; and NOT in some corporate entity or institution.
In view of what we all know and have seen, and in the light of what has been presented above, can anyone honestly deny that the C of C Churches have a full-blown clergy system? Just like the other sects? Surely not. And the end is not yet. It will get worse. Apostasy always works that way.
THE IMPORTANT QUESTION is what will YOU do about this clergy system situation? If you are a member of a Church institution that has one or more of these hired employees, then YOU are approving and financially supporting the clergy system! YOU probably had no voice or vote in such, but it is YOURS now to uphold and support as a "faithful member" of that Church. You are condoning it and going along with it, with no apparent opposition. Perhaps YOU realize that opposition to such teaching and practice will bring down upon you the wrath of the Eldership; and certainly the wrath of the Pulpit Minister. Besides it is just downright inconsistent, if not hypocrisy, to go along with and participate in something you believe to be wrong.
One thing you can do is to stop YOUR financial support of the system. However, this would mean stopping your financial support of the institutional Church because the clergy system is a vital part of the local C of C Church institution.
The thing that YOU must realize is that the whole corporate Church setup is from men, not from God. The C of C Church is today just another denomination among the many other denominations. What makes all the other denominations, are the same things that make the C of C Church one and the same with them. Who can deny it? Who will even try to do so? Jesus did NOT set up or establish a corporate Church institution. He certainly did not give His life and shed His blood for some organizational entity. Can't YOU understand that? Surely you can. Now what will YOU do? - CAH.