I have to admit, I’ve been mulling over this for quite sometime so Im interested in hearing your thoughts both pro and con with sound biblical support. This may be somewhat disjointed, but jump in whereever you feel a need to clarify or question. I’m not anti-money but I do think that the need for money seems to have eclipsed the need for fellowship and even God.
Here is the thesis: The new testament church was or began as a house to house movement. There is no requirement in scripture that Im aware of which mandates meeting in a “church building”.
Money to do ministry?
Have we created a monster we now are forced to pacify? You have probably heard the phrase “it takes money to do ministry” before. I’ve even used it several times to justify the need to get money to do God’s will. But is that true?
In fact, it seems the contemporary church is driven not by the desire for sincere fellowship, but rather the need to collect money for “the vision”. Money to get the mortgage paid, money for rent, money to fund programs, money to pay salaries, money for building maintenance, money to pay denominational fees, money for legal bills, money to put on expensive conferences and the list goes on. And guess who has to pony up all that money? Let’s face it “the church” today is big business generating and paying out over a billion dollars yearly. Just last year, Creflo Dollar released a shocker stating that just his local church took in $68 million dollars in one year.
Big churches equal big money equal power, prestige and influence. But we have also seen those with the most “influence” built on their wealth have dismal records on following biblical foundations. Compromise?
That’s not to say that the early church did not have issues with money, but they seemed to employ a system sufficient to handle all things. Some may argue that the times forced the changes in the contemporary church, but was it the times or the greed of people who wanted the church to produce more cash to support their lifestyles?
Church is where the heart is
According to Hebrews 10:25, fellowship is mandated. That’s clear and settled. We cannot be lone rangers and mavericks. Fellowship with other believers is necessary for proper growth. But notice the overidding focus of Hebrews 10:25 is not where, but what. In fact, it makes no mention nor suggestion of where. Forsake not the assembling of yourselves as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
Most of us have been taught not coming to church is a sin. But is it really? Some preachers have openly ridiculed “house churches” as “separatists”, but the truth is that smaller fellowships birth much more relational cohesion than one with thousands of people who may never know each other. And in these days of financial hardship is the church in the home more beneficial?
The message of the church today to the world is “come to us and be saved”, but does that conflict with Jesus’ command to go into all the world and make disciples? In other words, we tell people to come to church and Jesus will help them? But cant Jesus help them right there on the corner of Jones Ave and 92nd Street? Do we want them at church to increase our membership or do we want them in the kingdom of God? What if we promise ” a miracle” at church, but they dont live to make it to Wednesday night or Sunday morning?
The hard work of fleshing this out biblically was done by blogger DC Lake in his post titled “In defense of house church meetings”. He argues that Jesus met and ministered in homes (Mark 2:1-3), the Holy Spirit was poured out in homes. The “upper room” was actually someone’s upstairs house quarters. (Acts 1:13-14), and the church met in homes (Acts 12:5-12). Thus meeting in the home is fundamentally biblical.
Bound to buildings or free to serve?
In suburban Atlanta, Rolling Hills church sold their 1.5 million dollar building because the pastor said they spent over 50 percent of the church’s budget on a building that they were in less than 10 percent of the time.
“Our motive should not be to fill these seats, but to empty these seats,” the Rev. Frank Mercer decided last year.
Amen, said the congregation, which is $150,000 away from paying off $1.4 million worth of land and buildings
He spoke a phrase that became a mantra for his church: “I’m afraid if we become a church of bricks and mortar, we’ll cease to be a church of flesh and blood.”
That’s deep. I got a brief revelation while preaching about the ministry of the Holy Spirit. The church was intended by direction of the Holy Spirit to be an organic entity: mobile and deployable. Thus, we (people) are the “temple of God” (1 Cor 6:19). Temples that can go and do and be when God says so. Having said that, do these churches of brick and mortar mean anything in the eternal scheme of things? And if we are not a church of people who serve God, not a building are we fulfilling the great mandate of our faith?