The question was asked in another place about the propriety of the church having a building. What can be said? Here’s my two cents.
About the building, the church can meet anywhere. A building or a home. It can be rented, leased, or purchased. It can be a large house owned by one person (because it’s his home) or it can be a large house built by the entire church. There’s nothing sacred about the “house”. And the money that is spent by an individual to have a large enough place to accommodate the church is no different than the smaller amounts of money donated by many individuals. The “house” or building is not coming from the government. It is not donated by a private agency. Wherever the Christians meet for worship and fellowship, it is a place built by one, some, or all of the Christians.
When the church met in a private home, that was an “expedient” and the most accessible place to meet. But we don’t want to make law where there is none. If Christians in the first century met only in “houses” then that might be support for a law of “houses only” by the example. But even an approved example does not exclude other possibilities that might be equally expedient if the other possibilities accomplish exactly the same thing.
But then again, what is the “church building” but a bigger “house”. It’s not sacred. It’s just a big house. And it is built by the generosity of Christians. If the Christians build a big house so they are all accommodated, that can’t be legislated against. I’ll illustrate. Let’s say that a congregation was meeting in a “house” and the place was bursting at the seams. And then suppose that the wealthy member of the church says, “I’m donating a building I already have that will be large enough for all to meet in and big enough for more to come.” It’s his money to do with what he pleases. It’s his property. His gift is a gift to God. Would it be right for anyone in the church to say to that man, “What about the poor? There are so many in need. Why haven’t you sold the property and given it to the poor?” That kind of judging is simply wrong. It is wrong to judge his generosity. Instead, let the Leaders of the church pray about it and then they could say, ‘Thank you, we will be glad to take the building or we can with your help build a bigger house so all believers can worship together.”
But you might say, “Sure, if one person contributed the money, that would be fine.” So what if 10 families said, “We will support the building of a larger ‘house’ where we can worship”? What’s the difference? Money from one person or money from many people is the same thing. See, I can’t see anything wrong with a bigger “house” church building. Can the building become too much in a worldly sense? Sure. Can it reach a point that it gets in the way of the light shining in the community? Probably so. But that’s the place of prayer and wisdom to determine that line. But a carte blanche dismissal of church buildings is not supportable.
A possible pitfall to the bigger “house” owned by the church instead of by one person is that some might make laws that turn the building into a “holy” place where common things are not allowed. As long as that bigger “house” doesn’t then become a vehicle to exclude all the worship, fellowship, and outreach activities that were permitted in the smaller house, then it wouldn’t be a problem.
In connection to worship and the Lord’s Supper, Paul said, “What? have you not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise you the church of God, and shame them that have not?” 1 Cor. 11:22. In a “house” church, you can eat regular meals and you can eat the Lord’s Supper. But the Apostle said “don’t you have homes in which to eat.” Were they therefore NOT in a home? Maybe. Maybe not. If you are against church buildings, you could say, “That’s because they were in somebody else’s home.” So the argument would be that you can eat a meal in all other homes, but you can’t eat a meal in this home that’s being utilized for the church assembly? For it to accommodate all the church, it must be some home! Who would volunteer their home if it meant it could no longer be used for common meals? If that’s what Paul meant that eating regular meals isn’t permitted in the same building where there is worship, the house might as well be given over to the church because without regular meals, it’s not a home. In a home there is going to be the eating of meals. I don’t believe Paul is trying to say there must be a building so that regular meals are not eaten in it. But what Paul is saying is that a common meal is not to be part of worship. And the Lord’s Supper is not to become a common meal. Whether in an individual’s house or in a big “house” donated by all, keep the common separate from the holy.
God bless. Dan Mayfield
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