CHAPTER 5 • WHY DO
WE BUILD “CHURCHES”?

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Is building buildings inherently wrong of itself? No. It’s just that in the first Church -- it was never done, according to the Word of God. On the opening day of the Church, three thousand souls were added to the fellowship (Acts 2:41). Was the first line of business to build a building? You would think with all those people, surely the Apostles would have seen the need for a building, like we do today. It was never on the agenda. This is the first and foremost argument against building buildings and calling them, “church.” It was never done according to the Word of God. The Lord never told anyone to build earthly buildings and the Apostles never taught or did it.

Not only was it never done by the first believers, but building buildings gets our focus off our true mission as the Church. The very act of building a “church building” says, “Sit down, take it easy; let the sinners come to us.” It directs our faith from God and puts it on a building. How many of us have been a part of this scenario?

Scenario: If we only had a bigger “church,” we could get more people. We would have more room for the choir, and we could have a fellowship hall where we could have receptions ... and a daycare -- we could make more money that way! Now, if we have a barbecue in May and three or four bake sales during the summer, we could meet the new building’s down payment fund by August. (This is a shortening of the tale. It usually takes several years of “fund raisers” to accomplish this un-Biblical goal.)

Now, you can justify this type of thinking and acting, but the bottom line is that it never happened in the Apostles’ day -- that is, if the Word of God is our true and only guide. (For that matter, the first Church never preached, participated in or practiced any type of fund-raising activities besides asking the Church to give from their own profits.) When Yeshua our Lord found those selling oxen, sheep and doves in the temple, he drove them out and overthrew their tables. He said, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:16). In the Gospel of Matthew it is recorded that Yeshua said, “It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13). Church was never meant to be a business, which many churches have become today.

These next scriptures are very powerful and we don’t want to do anything that even comes near this: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways [many times ignorantly, not meaning any harm]; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not” (2 Petter 2:1-3). Do you know how disparagingly charity is thought upon and used by some in the name of “Christianity”? The bottom line is that the Church was never meant to be a “money-making” entity. The apostles and first Church never used the Church to raise money. Never.

Do we need fellowship? Of course we do. Does it have to be in a building that we constructed for the purpose of fellowship? The answer is no. If the Apostles never saw the need, why do we? Do we know more than they did? Are we closer to Christ than they were? Do we see the signs and wonders that they did? I wonder who had the better idea.

It would be an interesting study of itself, to see who, where, and why the first church building was erected. But, the purpose of this book is not to chase down history outside the Word of God. Remember, it didn’t happen in the Bible (God’s only known Word and guide for Christians), so, why do we need it today? Have we accumulated some unnecessary baggage that is impeding the Word of God and His Gospel from going forth into the world?

There are many beautiful cathedrals in Europe. Some of those cathedrals took more than a hundred years to complete. It makes me wonder where would the Church be today, if those men had been out in the field preaching the gospel rather than using that time to build a building? A church building racks up debts and bills that zap members of energy, time and money. It’s a shackle on the Body of Christ. The Church of Yeshua Christ does not need a building; we are the building of God (1 Corinthians 3:9; Ephesians 2:20-22), why would we need another? I have seen many beautiful church buildings, I do admire their architecture and beauty; but they do not compare to what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9; John 14:1-3). “Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples built with hands; as saith the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith Yahweh: or what place of my rest?” (Acts 7:48, 49; Isaiah 66:1)

What are other arguments against a building? A building caused the Body of Christ to sit down. We have made ourselves comfortable. We attend a few services a week, we throw some money into a plate, we say a minimal amount of “prayers,” listen to some singing, hear a little preaching and go home. Then, we say to ourselves, “I have now done my Christian duty, and I am saved.” As noted earlier, this type of religiously practiced conduct never happened in the Bible.

And while we sit in our “church services” there is a lost and dying world just outside the walls. The walls that keep us in and them out. Are we supposed to be waiting for them to come to us? Did Yeshua say, “Go into all the church buildings and preach the gospel to yourselves and wait for the world to come to you?” ... Or did He say, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature?” (Mark 16:15). When we confine the Word of God to a building, we have boxed it in from the world.

We stick God into our carefully maintained schedules and say, “Okay Lord, from 8 am to 12 pm Sunday morning, Sunday evening from six to nine and Wednesday evening between seven and nine -- You may move.” What if the Spirit had told Philip to catch up with the chariot and preach to the eunuch and Philip had responded, “Sorry Lord, I can’t do that now, I’ll be late for church” (Acts 8:29)? Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17); let’s remember to allow the Spirit that same liberty to work outside of our carefully structured church services and buildings (two things to which it was never confined in the Apostles’ day). Or better yet, let’s loose them and let the Church function within the liberty of the Spirit alone.

Another problem, especially among the larger churches, is that they become so large, that people don’t really know each other. Pastors can’t really pastor when too many people belong to one fellowship. Wolves can creep in (in sheep’s clothing) and harm the sheep when the pastor has so many attending members that he doesn’t even know many of their names. (I’ve seen it happen.)

Also, with the way “church services” have been turning, many are seeking the church for entertainment, social fulfillment, even status. There’s a long list of those who want to be in the choir, because that’s in the spotlight. Many want to “sing a special” -- that’s in the spotlight. People on the “platform” become “church stars” and soon singing a song has become so orchestrated and glorified, that prayer and reaching out to a lost world gets buried under our “church service.” Check your watch and see. How much time is devoted to prayer and how much time is devoted to singing? I know, singing is considered worship; but be truthful with yourself -- has it become more like a celebrity list of who’s who in your church? There are performers who are making big money selling “Christian” music. Whatever happened to “freely ye have received, freely give” Matthew 10:8? It’s just become another big business.

Let me clarify, the Word of God is not against singing. In 1 Corinthians 14:15, Ephesians 5:19, Colossians 3:16 and James 5:13 we are encouraged to sing spiritual songs to each other. At the Lord’s last earthly supper with his disciples before His crucifixion, He and His disciples concluded it with a hymn (Matthew 26:30 and Mark 14:26). However, after the Church was born, there is only one example of anyone singing in the Body of Christ and that was Paul and Silas singing praises unto to God in Acts 16:25. There are two things worth noting about this one example that we are given in the Word of God. First, they were out in the field doing the work that the Lord had commissioned them to do when they were singing. Secondly, unbelievers heard their praying and singing, but it wasn’t the singing that moved anyone to baptism that night. It was the power of God in the form of an earthquake that brought repentance and baptism (but, they knew where the power came from because of Paul and Silas’ praying and singing). When we are out preaching the Truth, God will confirm His Word with signs and wonders (Mark 16:20, Acts 4:30)). (By the way, they didn’t take up an offering or sell the lyrics on papyrus scrolls to make a profit. It was pure praise and worship from the heart with no other intention.) Let’s remember, it’s not anyone’s beautiful singing that is going to lead a sinner to repentance; but, it is God’s goodness that leads people to repentance (Romans 2:4). Let us all ever endeavor to sing unto Yahweh (http://biblehub.com/text/psalms/96-1.htm) as the Spirit leads; yet, put no more emphasis on singing than what the first Church did.

As for using the Church for social fulfillment, it shouldn’t be happening. Some people select churches not for sound doctrine, but rather they have a youth group or a singles’ group, or what type of outside activities the church offers. Does it have enough single women? Does it have enough single men? Are there enough people my age? Are there enough children my children’s ages? The Church of Yeshua Christ was never meant to be a social club. This world is not where it’s at in the Church. If you have to use worldly standards to find fellowship, I’m afraid you’re missing the purpose of the Church. The Church is a social fellowship just because people (plural) are involved; but don’t seek Christian fellowship based on worldly social desires. Seek Christian fellowship for Truth, strength in the Faith and mutual love and service for the Lord and Body of Christ.

So how are Christians to fellowship? Why not from house to house as the first Church did? (Acts 2:2,46; Acts 12:12; Acts 20:20; Acts 28:30-31; Romans 16:5; 1 Corinthians 1:11; 1 Corinthians 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2) Why did we ever get away from it? If the Bible is truly our model, how can we justify any activity that is not found in our one and only guide?

Folks, it’s easy to attend a “church service” weekly. It’s a lot easier than going into the world and preaching the gospel to every creature [Mark 16:15]. Now that takes something more than effort.

Actually, it really doesn’t matter what buildings, structures or wide open spaces are used, because if a person has received the Spirit of God, his or her body is the Temple of God (1 Corinthians 3:16). The Temple of God, House of God, or Church is not made of wood or stones. It’s made of flesh and blood. That’s why we don’t have to build one -- Yeshua is building it with people. Note the following scriptures.

It doesn’t matter where people gather to fellowship, it just takes two or three. “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” Matthew 18:20.

The Lord has chosen the building in which He wants to dwell; it’s the Church -- and the true Church is His people. To build another structure that God has not ordained in His Word is comparable to when the children of Israel wanted a king to rule them rather than God [1 Samuel 8:5-22].

It seems to be an eternal tragedy that churches haven’t spent as much time and effort building the Church with lively stones as they have building her with unlively stones in the last too-many centuries. Think of all the time and energy that has been put into building “churches.” I wonder what kind of difference there would have been if we had been out in the field laboring to save souls with that time and energy. We know the Lord told us to go into the world and preach the gospel; but not once did he ever tell us to build buildings for “church” -- and the first Church, found in the Word of God, never did.

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