Is There An Alternative? - R.Earl

The Lord’s church has been blessed with great lectureships, gospel meetings, summer series lessons, and the like. These activities take place throughout the country. Brethren come from near and far to attend these events and enjoy the great fellowship and Bible lessons. These events provide an opportunity for the lost to hear the gospel as well the faithful to be encouraged.
When planning for any event, the leadership in the local congregation discusses the requirements to make such an event available. Generally, such planning includes discussions about speakers, accommodations for the speakers, other expenses for the speakers, and expenses for other things for the event. These would include lots of things, including the cost of making lessons available on DVDs, etc. Many congregations make such media available online. The Bible tells us payment for any work of the church should come from free-will offerings (1 Cor 16:1-2).
It is important to keep in mind that some works are overseen by an eldership while others are not. Bible camps are under a board of directors. Children’s homes, many times, also are under a board of directors. The men who write and publish books often do so without an eldership overseeing the work. What’s the difference? Events under the oversight of elders are part of the church. Those that are not under the oversight of elders are not part of the local church work. Churches of Christ may be associated with such works under a board of directors, but it is not equal to those under the direct oversight of an eldership.
Can you imagine the apostle Paul going to a congregation and preaching a lesson and the congregation charging those who want to hear the lesson? That is what some are doing today. There are events taking place across the country charging individuals to hear lessons from God’s Word. I have heard some say that it is okay because we are only charging the brethren and not the lost. Why do we think that is okay? The Bible tells us we should encourage one another, not charge one another. Still, some will say “if we did not charge, this event would not be possible.” Is there an alternative to charging for events? Should a congregation decide what it can afford to do before undertaking a work? We are told to give attention to exhortation, however, how encouraged can one be if they have to pay for it (1 Tim 4:13)?
Having recorded many meetings, lectureships, and the like, one becomes familiar with the cost of recording video and audio and the cost of making things available to the public through various forms. It is not just the charging that is a cause for concern for many, but the amount being charged is also a concern. It seems now, more than ever, we have brethren who are hosting various events, charging individuals who attend, and if they want a copy of a lesson or lessons, they must pay for them also. Some have attempted to listen to a lesson on their home computer from an event only to be told they needed a subscription. However, if they go to a different website where a similar event was recorded, they can listen, view, or download the lesson for free. So, why are some charging while others are not?
While these things are not made into a matter of fellowship. It is a cause for concern. Many congregations across the country and the world work together in making seminars and meetings available to those who wish to attend and do so without having a fee to attend such. Surely, brethren can sit down and discuss ways to do such works without having to include a fee
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