Question:

Hi Jeff,

How do you keep the government from being involved in the affairs of the church in the United States? Over here in Nigeria, the government directed that all churches be registered with a name in other for them to monitor the number of churches in the country. Each church must have a different
name. In order to protect the churches of Christ, the church decided to set up a body called the Board of Trustees consisting of brethren in different fields saddled with the responsibility to inform and
protect the church from the government. Please, is this move by the church right?

The churches have what they call a Ministers' Forum where they share ideas and discuss issues bothering the churches and how they can use their positions as ministers to put things right. Even the bishops have their own forum. Please, are all these right?

Thanks. I anticipate your response.

Answer:

We are fortunate for the moment that our laws do not allow the government to be involved in religion. There are rules and regulations we have to abide by, but they are ones established for any business.

I recall being asked about the Board of Trustees in Nigeria in the past. From what I was originally told, the board was set up by individuals and not by the churches. Governments want someone to communicate with and represent the church. See Is it biblical to have a board of trustees? It must be remembered that any such board is for the convenience of the government. Such a board has no power over the congregation.

In Nigeria, the people went a bit further and treated the church as if it is a denomination. Instead of a board representing each congregation, you have a board claiming to represent all congregations. I don't know the governmental laws in Nigeria, but I suspect that it wasn't necessary. If you need unique names, then you just put down, "the Church of Christ in La Vista" or something like it. What I recall someone writing once before was that this board tried to take property away from a church because the board no longer agreed with the congregation's teaching. Thus, you ended up with a man-made organization telling a congregation what they had to believe. It is no longer functioning as a mediator between the government and the church.

Personally, I would ignore the attempt to create a denomination and simply register directly with the government if that is what is required.

There is nothing wrong with preachers or elders talking with each other. But once again, it becomes wrong when such a forum tries to tell preachers or elders what they must do or teach.

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