MCLOUD, Okla. (BNC) — A gospel preacher has come to the defense of one of the most popular authors in the brotherhood, answering charges and rebuking brethren for engaging in gossip.

Bradley Cobb, of website and Cobb Publishing, knows Michael Shank, author of Muscle and a Shovel. Bradley works with the McLoud congregation.

He’s heard it all about Michael, he said in a post published Apr. 19.

I’ve been asked this everywhere I go, it seems. I’ve been asked by some friends in Canada. I’ve been asked by preachers in Ohio, North Carolina, Alabama, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Illinois, and several other places that I don’t even remember. I’ve been asked by left-leaning brethren, one-cup brethren, and everyone in between. They’ve all asked me the same thing: Is Michael Shank really/still a faithful Christian?

All the bad things people have said or heard about Michael are a lie, Bradley stated.

I have known Mike since long before he ever wrote Muscle and a Shovel.  He is the same person now as he was then: one who cares deeply about God, about Jesus Christ, and about being right with the eternal Judge of the universe.  He’s not perfect–none of us are–but in no way, shape, or form has he left the faith.

Bradley provides some background information and history about Michael.  A couple of years ago, he said, Michael and family

… decided to do what the first-century Christians did, and began to meet in their home with some other like-minded Christians.  They still meet on the first day of the week.  They still teach the plan of salvation as seen in the Bible.  They still sings psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs without mechanical instruments of music.  They still take the Lord’s Supper each Lord’s Day.  They love each other.  They praise God, and they are bringing people to the Lord.

Bradley made a plea to stop the gossip, recalling and paraphrasing Jesus’ words in Mark 14:6, “Leave him alone.  Why are you troubling him? He has labored good work for Jesus.”

He ended on a strong note:

The Bible condemns gossip and those who spread it.  The Bible also strongly condemns the person who sows discord among the brethren.  Those who are spreading lies about Mike are doing both.

Bradley’s entire post can be read at this link.



  1. That’s another Barnabas in our fold. Folks in Christ behave like the Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus day . Mark 7:1-23. Many among us need that heart attack which Jesus suffered them. Someone’s use of his talent in the Kingdom makes those who are trying to put up spiritual beauty where there’s none to begin to wag their tail . Jesus said that their mouths must be stopped . Brother Bradley , thanks so very much for your stand.

  2. AMEN! Meeting in homes is EXACTLY what we read of in the New Testament. There were no church “buildings”, “men’s meetings”, or a myriad of other non-biblical practices. Many of us claim to be first century Christians, yet we have introduced numerous practices not mentioned in the N.T. and pass them off as “expedients”. I am deeply sadden to hear that this brother is being gossiped about. No doubt his family has been hurt also. His books have resulted in thousands of conversions and restorations. I wonder how many of the gossipers have converted or restore even one soul. My prayers go out to the Shank family and those who are gossiping. I would not be surprised at all if one of the reasons – if not the main reason – Michael has decided to meet in his home is because of the gossiping, backbiting and devouring. Truly sad.

  3. If I had my choice about assemblies for worship, it would be to return to the first century practice of meeting primarily in homes, with apparently the elders meeting as one church in each city. See my book, How Christianity Grows In The City, published in 1985. At that time, the Boston church was flourishing as one church in the city with multiple places of assembly … before it began organizing and controlling churches in other cities. I cannot fault anyone who chooses to follow this first century practice. Early Christians were not allowed to own property jointly which probably is why they were forced to meet in homes, with occasional use of a hall rented like was likely the case in Acts 20. The ‘authorization’ of Christianity as the national religion by Constantine in the third century is when the building of church houses began, and likely is what marked the beginning of separate churches being identified by their building location. When I published this book, Flavil Yeakley said it was 25 years ahead of its time, but now I suppose he would say 50 years. It is possible that what brother Shank is doing may prove to be even more significant than the remarkable number of conversions resulting from his amazing book, MUSCLE AND A SHOVEL. I pray God’s will be done, no matter what may come.

    1. How can one Church be controlling churches in other cities if the Bible teaches autonomity or self rule of the individual congregatins?

  4. Brother Alvin Jennings suggested you might like to have his book “How Christianity Grows in the City.” I have no problem with anyone reading Brother Jennings’ views but also would like to suggest you get a copy of the late Wayne Coats book “A Critique of ‘How Christianity Grows in the City.'”You can get a copy from Amazon books online.

  5. The church of Christ was launched, not as a house church, but as a congregation of 3000 (Acts 2:41) that soon grew to 5000 (Acts 4:4) and that met “all with one accord” in Solomon’s Portico (Acts 5:11, 12) in God’s house (Matthew 21:13) in Jerusalem. Thus, it is not correct to say that meeting in homes was “what the first-century Christians did.” Early Christians had their own synagogues: “For if there come into your synagogue a man with a gold ring,” etc. (James 2:2 ASV). The word in Greek is “synagogue” which indicates that early Christians had “meeting houses.” Whether they were purpose built, owned or rented is not stated. Because of architectural limitations, most larger rooms in buildings were on the top floor, which explains why gatherings were often in an “upper room.” The Lord’s supper was instituted in “a large upper room” (Mark 14:15). In an “upper room” 120 assembled for prayer while waiting for the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:13). The church in Troas met to break bread on the third story in an “upper room” (Acts 20:8). Whether this meeting place was owned or rented by the church is not stated. The church at Corinth met centrally because their incorrect observance of the Lord’s supper as a regular meal occasioned the statement, “if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home” (1 Corinthians 11:34). There was also a congregation at Cenchrea, located a few miles east of Corinth (Romans 16:1). Christians sometimes made their homes available for meals (Acts 2:46), for prayer meetings (Acts 12:12) and for the assembly, e.g. at Rome (Romans 16:5) and at Ephesus (Romans 16:23; 1 Corinthians 16:19). Christians can meet in homes for valid and invalid reasons. Many new congregations have been started by Christians meeting in their homes. My parents moved to Fargo, North Dakota in 1954 for the purpose of establishing a congregation there. They have gone to be with the Lord, but the saints still meet in Fargo. The church has survived in many areas because a few Christians started meeting in their home because they could no longer worship conscientiously with a congregation that had departed from the New Testament in faith or practice. When instrumental music was introduced around 1900 the church was saved in many places in the southern United States in this way, whereas for some reason in the northeastern United States, although there were people in most congregations who did not approve of the instrument, they did not start meeting separately and no faithful congregation remained in that area. Improper reasons can be because a family does not want to be under the oversight of the elders or because they themselves wish to practice something contrary to the doctrine of Christ.

  6. I read Michael’s book and as I read I witnessed a young mans journey to salvation and the love and devotion of another young man for the Word of God and his love for the Living Word and the time that he walked with man. To many in the Brother Hood it was a tool to beat some of the denominational world into submission and sow the seeds of hate and discontent with slander,bickering and back biting. What is so incredible is God spells out how we are to treat several of the denominations in Luke 9:49 John comes carrying tales of one who is casting out devil’s in Jesus’s name and he had forbidden him because he was not with the Christ and his disciples. Jesus replied forbid him not for he that is not against us is for us. God repeats in Philippians 1:18 “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea and will rejoice.” The Church has to turn away from it’s wicked ways and repent and seek the face of God to heal our land and our congregations. I will close with Romans 1:28-32 and will paraphrase because of space they did not like to retain their knowledge of God and he gave them over to a reprobate mind; being filled with all unrighteousness maliciousness, debate, whisperers, backbiters, proud, without understanding, haters of God and without understanding. those who take pleasure in those who do these things are guilty also and are worthy of death. I ask you my brothers and sisters join me in a on going prayer for the Church, that there may be a renewing of our minds that we may repent and seek his face. In Christ Bill Cartwright

  7. I am happy to see Roy Davison’s comments. He is a personal friend and also an excellent student and scholar of the the Word of God. I knew his devoted family before they passed to their reward, and I hope to be re-united with them on the other side. At my age of 86, I now often think of the poet’s phrase, and think, “How true!” Perhaps Roy or some other person who knows poets and poetry can tell me who said; “All that is left in life is a pleasant memory.”
    As for brother Shank, I shall ever be grateful to him and his wife for the monumental accomplishment in making his marvelous book available, no doubt the greatest tool in evangelism I have ever seen. I was honored when he said my book “Traditions of Men Vs. The Word of God” had been a help to him when he was struggling to find the truth about salvation and the church of Christ. Praise God alone for everything His servants do to make known His holy Word. And by the way, may I take just one closing moment to invite everyone to read on the internet? It is the Paper Pulpit which I do with the support of many Christians in the area…also supplemented by rebinding old Bibles. I have been writing this each week for the last 8 years. Check it at Amen!

    1. Indirectly, Alvin Jennings had a great impact on my life. I first met him when he preached in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada when I was 12 and he was 22. He was engaging in “dating evangelism.” He would date a girl until she became a Christian and then date someone else! Several became faithful Christians that way! My parents were there because Alvin had placed an ad looking for someone to start a congregation at Prince Albert. That didn’t work out but led to the folks selecting Fargo, North Dakota to start a congregation a year later. That summer I learned about Radville Christian College, a boarding secondary school, and decided to go there a year later. I attended there all four years of secondary school, met the wonderful girl who would later become my wife, and had excellent teachers including Lillian Torkelson, J.C.Bailey and Cecil Baily who had a great impact on my life and became friends for life. Alvin published the “Saskatoon Star, Leading wise men to their Savior.” And later published much excellent material with his Star Publishing Co. After Alvin published “How Christianity Grows In The City” I wrote him a letter explaining the errors it contained, which he said was the second longest letter he had ever received. He evidently still does not understand the “Errors of Hierarchical Discipleship” practiced at Boston even before they started controlling other congregations. I was glad that Will Breun referenced Wayne Coats’ critique of Alvin’s book. I appreciate Alvin’s dedicated work for the Lord these many years.