Do the scriptures authorize the purchase or use of kitchens and fellowship halls? If I were to answer this question bluntly, it would be a simple NO. However, most don’t believe the simple answer because if they did, they wouldn’t have such, but the fact is, they do. Advocates of such things will say, “Can a mother give her baby a bottle of milk in the building?” Of course, no one ever said such a thing. I’ve used certs, cough drops, sipped on water while preaching and thought nothing of it, or that I was breaking any law of God by doing so. Why, because such is not a meal and such is not provided by the church. Yet, this is not the real issue at hand. So what is the real issue at hand?
The real issue is biblical authority for what what we say and do. Is there authority for the local church to plan and provide materially for social activities as a part of its work? God told us what was authorized and who authorized it, and all such was contained in the Word of God. II Tim 3:16-17 Yes, God’s authority is required. Col 3:17 Going beyond God’s authority is rejected. II Jn 9
What is the church authorized to do according to God’s Word? Churches are to have assemblies – Heb 10:24-25 f; I Cor 11:18 So why do we have a building? Because we need a place to meet. Correctly so, we could meet in a member’s house, barn or even under a tree, etc. The bottom line is, the church is authorized to meet, but is not restricted to what kind of place to meet. Thus, a building owned by the church is authorized as much as any place.
Churches are to observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week. Acts 20:7 f; I Cor 11:33 The unleavened bread, the fruit of the vine, the trays, etc. are provided because of the command to partake. Churches are to sing songs. I Cor 14:26 ff; Eph 5:19; Col 3:16 The providing of song books and having someone lead the singing falls under these commands.
Churches are to pray together – Col 4:2 Churches are to teach God’s word – Eph 4:11-14 f; Heb 5:12 Churches are to study. 2 Tim 2:15 Thus, there is a pulpit to hold Bibles and materials. Churches are to have a collection for the saints. I Cor 16:2 Churches are to support the preaching of the gospel. Philip 4:15-16 Churches are to provided for the needy saints. Acts 4:34-35 f; II Cor 9:1-2
However, where is the authority for planning and providing social activities? Without authority, we cannot act, we must not act. The church is to have fellowship, such is not in dispute. However, a study of the word fellowship will demonstrate that it is used in the scriptures to discuss a spiritual relationship and not a social gathering. It means a partnership. Luke 10:5 It means Fellowship with the Son – I Corinthians 1:9 It means Fellowship in the gospel – Philip 1:5 It means Fellowship in the Spirit – Philip 2:1 It means Fellowship in the sufferings of Christ – Philip 3:10
What is biblical fellowship is all about? “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.” I John 1:1-4
Actually, we do have a fellowship meal. It’s called the Lord’s Supper – I Cor 10:16-17 In fact, the Lord’s supper is the only meal which was ordained to be provided by the church. All other kind of meals were forbidden in 1 Cor 11:22, 34. In fact, there is no commandment or example where the church ever provided meals or had fellowship halls for anyone. This is why those who practice such use human reasoning as opposed to book, chapter and verse as their proof for doing so.
If you can understand that the church doesn’t have instrumental music because we have no such commandment, then you can understand why the church is not to have kitchens and fellowship halls. In fact, no where does the bible forbid instrumental music, and yet the churches of Christ understand there is no biblical authority for such. The apostle Paul condemns the church coming together to eat meals. In fact, this is what he said, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise you the church of God, and shame them that have not? what shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.” 1 Cor 11:22,34 What he preached in one church, he preached in all. 1 Cor 4:17 So, where is the biblical authority for kitchens and fellowship halls? It’s contained in the doctrines and commandments of men which turn us from the truth. Mt 15:7-9 f; Tit 1:14 If anyone can circumvent a direct commandment not to eat in the churches, then instrumental music can’t be that far away.