SOP Support of Self-supporting Churches
QUESTION: Does the Spirit of Prophecy support having or starting self-supporting churches?
ANSWER: Ellen White was certainly a strong supporter of self-supporting work, including self-supporting churches. Below are some examples of her involvement in starting self-supporting churches.
“When we built our meetinghouse [church] in Cooranbong, Sister McEnterfer and I went through the district where the carpenters lived, asking them how much they would charge to work for us by the day. Many of them promised to work for much less than the ordinary wage. A few promised to give some time; others with families to support, being too poor to work for nothing, offered to work for six shillings - a dollar and a half - a day. The meeting-house [church] was built, and stands today as a monument for God, a miracle wrought by his power. Many of the believers had just begun to keep the Sabbath. Some of them were very poor, and at first we had to help them. Now they are all self-supporting. They keep up the church expenses, and pay a faithful tithe. This is the way we worked to build our meeting-houses in many places in Australia.” SpM 246.
“The spirit of liberality came into our meetings, and the offerings in the San Francisco church amounted to between two [hundred] and three hundred dollars. I feel very thankful to our heavenly Father for this evidence of the working of His Spirit upon hearts. The mission in San Francisco is self-supporting. Many calls are made upon the people for means to sustain the work in their own borders, yet they do not complain but willingly unite in giving for other parts of the field.” 17 MR 45.
“There was the work among the blacks in the South in which her son James Edson White was leading out. In 1894 he had built the Morning Star, a missionary riverboat, which in early 1895 he had sailed down the Mississippi River, and had pioneered a work, establishing schools and churches. This work was now under the direction of the Southern Missionary Society, an organization he headed and one that was recognized by the General Conference as the agency largely responsible for the work of the church among the blacks. This was almost entirely a self-supporting work, carried on with approval of church leaders and with minimal financial assistance.” 5 BIO 39.
“God has not appointed any man guide, nor made any man conscience for another; therefore let human hands be withheld from restraining his servants who feel the burden to enter his vineyard to labor. Let God work with his own chosen agents by his Holy Spirit. No human being is to sit in judgment upon his brother. Neither are any to feel that they can handle roughly the precious pearls for which Christ gave His life. The pearl, the precious human pearl, was found by Christ. Let man be warned; be careful how you treat the Lord’s “peculiar treasure.” All discourtesy, all pain, all neglect, which these souls suffer at your hands, is charged against you as inflicted upon Jesus Christ. They are not to be treated in a lordly, commanding manner. Laws and rules are being made at the centers of the work that will soon be broken into atoms. Men are not to dictate. It is not for those in places of authority to employ all their powers to sustain some, while others are cast down, ignored, forsaken, and left to perish. But it is the duty of the leaders to lend a helping hand to all who are in need. Let each work in the line which God may indicate to him by His Holy Spirit. The soul is accountable to God alone. Who can say how many avenues of light have been closed by arrangements which the Lord has not advised nor instituted? The Lord does not ask permission of those in responsible positions when He wishes to use certain ones as His agents for the promulgation of truth. But He will use whom He will use. He will pass by men who have not followed his counsel, men who feel capable and sufficient to work in their own wisdom; and he will use others who are thought by these supposedly wise ones to be wholly incompetent. Many who have some talent think that they are necessary to the cause of God. Let them beware lest they stretch themselves beyond their measure, and the Lord shall leave them to their own ways, to be filled with their own doings. None are to exercise their human authority to bind minds and souls of their fellow-men. They are not to devise and put in practice methods and plans to bring every individual under their jurisdiction.” RH, July 23, 1895.
“God’s servants are to preach His word to the people. Under the Holy Spirit’s working they will come into order as stars in the hand of Christ, to shine forth with His brightness. Let those who claim to be Christ’s ministers arise and shine; for their light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon them. Let them understand that Christ expects them to do the same work as He has done. Let them leave the churches that know the truth, and go forth to establish new churches, to present the word of truth to those who are in ignorance of God’s warning message.” 6 T 414.