Ask Your Preacher

Ask Your Preacher

“Hunger Pangs”

Is it unsound for members of a congregation to have a potluck in their building, if it's not intermingled with the Lord's Supper, is provided by individual members, and not funded by the collection of the saints?

I know in 1 Cor 11:17-34, Paul gives instructions regarding the Lord's Supper, on how christians should conduct themselves, admonishing what was apparently a common practice of combining the Lord's Supper with a common meal.  His final instruction was that if anyone was hungry, they should eat at home.  Of course, this was within the context of their worship.  What about if worship is over?  I've always had the understanding that this was prohibited, but I'm currently in a congregation that practices this, yet they seem to desire to glorify the Lord in all things.  I need to find an answer, so I can either participate with a clear conscience or kindly decline and hope to not become ostracized.

Not Hungry

Dear Not Hungry,

The key to the whole issue is to remember what the work of the church is.  The Bible specifically outlines three things that the church has a responsibility to do: care for needy christians (Acts 4:34), preach to the lost, and teach the saved (Acts 15:35).  Anything that a church does with its financial assets needs to fit into one of those three categories.  A congregation’s building is part of its financial assets, and that is why what happens in a church’s building has to be limited to those three areas.

Bible classes, worship services, etc. all easily fit into the work of the church… but what about a social gathering?  The problem is that socializing is never shown to be part of the church’s work.  It certainly is important for individual christians to spend time with one another… but that is a command to individuals – not the church.  Individuals have a lot more freedom in what they do than the church does.  Social gatherings in the church building simply don’t fit the Bible pattern of the church’s work.  We aren’t condemning the attitude of these kind folks, but zeal isn’t the same as Bible accuracy (Rom 10:2).  We here at AYP cannot find Bible authority for the church’s building, which is part of the church’s assets, to be used for a purely social gathering.  Once we begin to do small things that don’t have Bible authority for them, we’ve cracked the door to more and more behavior that goes beyond what God has written (1 Cor 4:6).