Ask Your Preacher
THE NEW TESTAMENT CHURCH
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.
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).
Are Jews Jesus' chosen people? And why?
Yay For Yarmulke
Dear Yay For Yarmulke,
The Jews are not Jesus’ chosen people; the church is. Jesus says that christians are His royal priesthood and chosen race (1 Pet 2:9). Under the Old Testament, the Jewish people were God’s nation (Deu 7:6). The Jewish nation was warned that if they rejected God’s Son, they would be rejecting God, and God would make a new nation out of those who believed in Christ (Jesus explained this to the Jews in the parable of the vineyard – Lk 20:9-19). The vast majority of Jews didn’t believe in Jesus, and therefore, they never became a part of Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus’ chosen people are those that love Him and keep His commandments (Jhn 14:15). The Jewish people rejected God because they would rather have their traditions than God’s Son (Mk 7:9).
Why do we need to go to church?
Dear Sunday Sleeper,
The Bible teaches that we shouldn’t forsake the assembly (Heb 10:24-25). God designed the church so that each individual would be strengthened by the power of the whole (Eph 4:16). God never wanted christians to try and serve Him without the support of a local church; that is why He commanded the church to assemble. It is impossible to do God’s work without being a part of a local church. If you would like help finding a faithful congregation in your area, e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am a member of a Baptist church, but I was thinking about changing. What is the difference between Church of God and church of Christ?
Dear Just Browsing,
The Church of God and the churches of Christ are vastly different. The Church of God is a name used by numerous, mostly unrelated Christian denominational bodies, most of which descend from either Pentecostal/Holiness or Adventist traditions. Most groups that use the title Church of God believe in speaking in tongues, modern prophecy, and visions. All of these things are false teachings. See “Speaking In Tongues”, “The Lost Art Of Prophecy”, “I Dreamed A Dream” for further details on what the Bible says about these behaviors.
Churches of Christ are all individual congregations (we have no centralized leadership other than the Bible) that simply try to follow the Bible pattern for everything they do. This is not the case with every church of Christ, but it certainly is for us in Monroe, WA.
Everything a church does (worship, membership, how they teach to be saved, how they spend their money, even their name) needs to have Bible verses backing them up (1 Tim 3:15). A church needs to be able to explain the reasons for why they do what they do (1 Pet 3:15). Our congregation here in Monroe goes by the name ‘Monroe Valley church of Christ’ because ‘church of Christ’ is a Biblical name for a congregation (Rom 16:16). We worship by singing (Col 3:16), studying the Bible (1 Tim 4:13), praying (2 Thess 3:1), taking communion (only on Sundays – Acts 20:7), and taking up a collection (also only on Sundays – 1 Cor 16:1-2). We teach that you must hear God’s Word (Rom 10:17), believe God’s Word (Jhn 3:16), repent of your sins (Mk 6:12), confess Jesus as your Savior (Lk 12:8), and be baptized to be saved (Acts 2:38, 1 Pet 3:21). We do all these things because they are practices found in the Bible. Our philosophy is simple: if the Bible speaks, we speak; if the Bible is silent, we are silent.
Hopefully that helps to clarify the differences for you. A faithful church of Christ is simply trying to do just what the Bible says… no more, no less.
(This post is in reference to “No Luck Potluck”)
Y'all have disappointed me this morning... I have been reading your Q/A for the last 4-5 months, every morning, and try to incorporate those into my daily Bible study. But the latest one has faltered. "No potluck"? It almost sounds like you are putting emphasis on the BUILDING being a part of worship. What makes a building holy? You can NOT eat in a building when worship services have concluded? Can you NOT drink water from the fountain? Have lights? Computers? Restrooms? If you follow this line, when does one stop? The first christians were meeting in each others’ homes. Where today, all these things would be available, just NOT during worship services. They were meeting in synagogues where the Jews were still worshiping. OUR bodies make up THE body of the church.
Fork In Hand
Dear Fork In Hand,
You raise a very valid question. You asked: "What makes a building holy?" After all, the building isn't the church – the people are. Whether the church meets in a house (Acts 20:8), a school building (Acts 19:9), or the temple porch (Acts 5:12), it is still the church. The people are God's church – certainly not a building. So should we be concerned at all with what goes on in the church building. The answer is ‘yes’, but not because the building is the church... because the building was bought with the church's money.
A church building is part of a church's finances (the same as your house is part of your finances), and it is important that whatever we use the church's finances for be authorized by the Bible. 1 Tim 3:15 says that there is a certain way that the church must behave when we work together collectively. 1 Tim 5:16 takes it one step farther and says that there are certain financial things the church shouldn't be burdened with. Once our money goes into the church collection on Sunday (1 Cor 16:1-2), it becomes the Lord's money – not ours. The church can spend its money on the church's work. The church's work is simple: teach the saved, preach to the lost, and care for needy christians (read "Purpose Driven Church" for book, chapter, and verse for those commands).
The issue isn't with any food or drink in the building... it is when the church collectively decides to use the building for a primarily social gathering. As Paul said, "Don't you have houses to eat and drink in?" (1 Cor 11:22). Paul lambasted the church in Corinth for making the church's work a social event. As we mentioned in the previous post, if the church needed a potluck for the purpose of continuing their services, that would be one thing... but once we start spending the church's finances (and the building is part of the church's finances) on social things, there is no principle difference between that and church movie night or having a Boy Scout troop use the building on Thursdays. Hope that provides some clarification. It is about the use of the Lord's finances, not a building being sacred.