When the United States was still thirteen colonies and part of Britain there was a popular saying related to joining the British Army.

The saying goes something like this: If you take the king’s dollar (schilling in those days) you become the king’s man. The meaning is obvious. If you get paid by the King then you do his bidding.

The saying has multiple applications today and I believe it applies especially to the federal and state governments and their relationship to faith based organizations.

To give a relevant example consider the concerns from Don Wilkerson from Adult and Teen Challenge (ATC) as recorded in the in the October 12, 2019 issue of World Magazine: “What concerns Don Wilkerson and others about these programs is that by accepting state licensing and funding , ATC centers won’t be free to present the gospel to all addicts.”

For those of my readers unfamiliar with Don Wilkerson and ATC understand that Don and his brother David started ATC way back in the 1960’s.

The ministry was for drug and alcohol addicts and the basic premise was faith in Christ could free an addict from bondage. To make this happen they developed Teen Challenge (later ATC). The strategy was a total spiritual immersion in a long-term residential program that featured evangelism, mentorship and Bible study. The program relied on donations.

The process was in stark contrast to the prevailing notion (that still prevails) that an addict will always be an addict. This meant that many secular clinicians believed in the rehab approach that often included medications and secular type therapies that had nothing to do with the gospel.

ATC exploded with about 200 centers situated in cities in the US and even abroad. With any faith based initiative funding can be a problem. Faith based ministries rely on churches and individuals to float the ministry boat and at times there isn’t enough funding.

Therefore, some ATC centers started to take the king’s schilling and with it came state licensing and with that came detox programs and short term programs that competed with ATC’s long term, gospel alone stance.

What ATC has now is a mess. It’s a mess to the point where individual ATC centers have to affirm the traditional stance or separate themselves as separate non-profits. World’s article in its entirely can be found here.

As a certified biblical counselor in a local church I immediately understood the tension. My church takes care of my ministry needs and we do not charge for counseling-counseling that is based on the sufficiency of Scripture to change a person from the inside out.

If I was in a parachurch ministry that was a separate non-profit it would be debatable as to the funding of the ministry. The temptation to take the king’s schilling can be huge and even thought to be a good thing “as long as it does not interfere with the gospel.” The problem is of course if you take the king’s schilling you eventually do his bidding and these days it often means “no gospel.”

Although the progressives have the whole separation of church and state thing wrong from a big picture point of view they do make a point with the little picture.

If you accept the king’s schilling and become state licensed you belong to the state and you must do the state’s bidding. In the anti-church climate of today this means the gospel is more offensive than it’s ever been in our nation’s history. All you have to do to realize that is be aware of the news on a daily basis. Conservative Christians are under fire and government is being weaponized in an effort to remove conservative Christianity from the public square. If you complain about that you are labeled a bigot. Well, Jesus said it would never be easy.

Separation of church and state did not mean the church could not have a public presence. It meant that the state could not control the church nor interfere with it. It had everything to do with imposing a particular state religion on a state and nothing to do with removing the church’s influence on society and culture.

Nevertheless, non-profits that are faith-based risk their ability to turn to Scripture and the gospel alone to help people when they accept a state license and the king’s schilling.

There is another old saying that comes from the Middle-East. It goes like this: