There seems to be great deal of misunderstanding by many as to the purpose of the local church. Some think that the church should be a political power to involve itself in the politics of the land. Others feel that the church has the task of educating people with secular knowledge. There are still others that think the church should go into secular business in order to make money. All of these ideas are foreign to biblical doctrine as to why Christ died and built His church.
Nevertheless, one of the most erroneous ideas that people have about the church is that it is to be some kind of a social club or center. This, too, is foreign to biblical doctrine. This erroneous idea has led to “fellowship halls” and kitchens being built, and entertainment imaginable. However, where is the authority from God’s word for the church to be a social club? Where in God’s word did Christ ever teach that this is a work of His church? Did Christ actually die in order to entertain you?
When Paul wrote to the brethren at Corinth concerning their attitude toward the Lord’s supper, he made a comment that we should observe: “Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s supper, for in your eating each one takes his own supper first; and one is hungry and another is drunk. What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God, and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you” (1 Cor. 11:20-22). They had made the Lord’s supper no more important than a common meal, a social gathering. Paul went on to explain what the Lord’s supper should mean to the Christian and concluded his argument with these words: “If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that you may not come together for judgment (11:34).
Now I do not know any church that uses their “fellowship hall” in their observance of the Lord’s supper. However, the use that is made by churches with their “fellowship halls” or their kitchens, (neither is mentioned in the Bible) is the same type of abuse that the Corinthians were guilty of in regards to the Lord’s supper. The Lord’s supper is an act of worship, which the Corinthian brethren abused by making it of no more importance than a common meal. That same type of abuse is done when people make the church into a social club by having a “fellowship hall”.
Oddly, those who desire to be entertained by the church and will fight you for that right, will argue that the building is not the church. That is correct, it isn’t. The church building is the place where the saints assemble. However, Paul, the inspired writer never once said, “If you desire to eat, have a kitchen or fellowship hall, and eat, drink and be merry” and that at the expense of the church! If for no other reason, when the church provides such entertainment and refreshments, they are guilty of adding to the Word of God and misappropriation of the contribution which has a divine purpose. The work of the church was fully made known in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12). Stuffing your mouth with food or being entertained does not fall into any of these criteria.
Jesus intended His church to be a spiritual organization, not a social organization. Peter wrote: “You also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 2:5). The church is to provide the Gospel of Christ to save a person’s soul, (Rom. 1:16-17). This is called evangelism. The church also edifies its members so each member grows in the gospel (2 Pet 3:18). The only other thing the church is authorized to do is to relieve the needs of its members if they become in need of assistance. (Eph. 4:12, 1 Cor. 16:1-3).
The church contains the manifold wisdom of God and is the pillar and ground of the truth (Eph 3:10 f; 1 Tim 3:15). Therefore, let the church do its divine work and let the social club do its work, may the two never dwell as one.