I have already mentioned in the first part of this article that we at the La Crosse church of Christ are in full agreement with the churches of our Lord who insist on using His money in the church treasury only for what He has authorized in His Word, the Bible. We don’t look for loopholes to get around the pattern He has clearly revealed for the church that he, Himself, built on the foundation of it’s inspired writers (Eph. 2:20). We have been able to see the confusion these “loopholes”, prejudices, and personal preferences have caused on both sides of the fence.
Recently, I had another discussion and Bible study with a faithful preacher who I mentioned in the first part of this article. I asked him again if he understood that it was not a sin for a preacher to eat his lunch in the church building. Once again, he said, “Yes”. Once again, I asked, “Then how can it be a sin for the congregation to have a potluck in the church building when it is paid for out of our own pockets (which is one of the characteristics that makes it a “potluck”), and not the church treasury?” His answer was interesting, and something every Christian should think about, instead of just determining to have our own way, and win the debate. He said, “The purpose of a church building is to have a place to meet for worship.” It is that simple.
You see, I have always understood we are generically authorized to use the Lord’s money to build meeting houses because we are specifically commanded to meet on the first day of the week for worship (Acts 20:7; Heb. 10:24,25). We build the meeting houses to be able to carry out the specific commands to meet for worship, evangelize, and edify (teach) the saints. The book of Acts is full of approved examples that show these are the very things the Lord’s money is to be used for, along with benevolence. Since the building is paid for with the Lord’s money, which according to the Bible, is only to be used for the work of the church, where do potlucks, or any other kinds of entertainment fit in with the use of our meeting houses?
This is too deep for most people to want to try to understand today. I have found it to be the same way with the use of instrumental music in the worship assemblies. When you start talking about interfering with their fun, you are no longer “uplifting” with your preaching, and you “bring them down”, and you “turn them off”. It is a sad commentary, even depressing in some cases, but true.
I can sure se the point this brother in Christ is making. We witness people looking for the wrong things in the church today, just as they look for the wrong things in their preachers, and teachers, and worship services. Instead of looking to serve, they are looking to be served, especially with food and entertainment. Most churches today are going, or have fully gone off the path to the left, wanting their own will to be done. Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). When we neglect to study, understand, and obey these Words of Jesus, the church becomes nothing more than a social club, and our meeting together becomes nothing more than a social event, including the worship services.
Once again, one extreme is just as bad as the other. Jesus didn’t die to build a social club, even if that is what most churches have become today. Yet I am still not convinced that it is the eating and enjoying each others company and fellowship in our meeting houses that is the sin. Here again, the ones off the path and on the right, are binding their own will, as I have shown. If eating together in the church building can aid us in our work for the church, it is good. If it will aid us in our door to door evangelistic campaigns, such as for lunch breaks, etc., like I have seen the meeting houses do many times before, it is good. If the preacher can save time and money eating his lunch in the church building while he studies, it is good. Therefore, it isn’t a sin. It can actually aid us in the work of the church. However, if it aids those who see us as nothing more than a social club, and there are more of these than most people know, even among those who believe eating in the building is a sin, then it can’t be right. If Christians think they should go ahead and do it anyway when their own members among them can’t do it with a good conscience, it can’t be right. When it is done with that “in your face” attitude that we have seen so much of today, it is a sin, an “extreme”, and it can’t be right. Read Romans 14, especially verses 13-18.
Preacher / Evangelist for the La Crosse church of Christ