Question:

"Quite simply, we are a church that follows after the pattern of the New Testament."
---from the church website.

"All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need" (Acts 4:32-35).

  1. Does this church have people sell everything are are distributed to everyone as they have need?
  2. Why do you have air-conditioning at the church building, when this is not the pattern of the New Testament church?
  3. Why have a church building at all? Where in the New Testament does it say that a church building was built -- with or without a kitchen?

Answer:

You can tell a facetious argument when the person argues that the very things he practices are not authorized by God. If he truly believed such, he would not be doing it. Yet, he thinks nothing of worshiping in an air conditioned building while telling people that if they really were following the New Testament they would not be doing such a thing. You are arguing that you go beyond the teachings of God, whether you intended to or not, and are in sin. You are saying you have no good reason for doing these very things, but in your mind that is somehow permission to ignore God's commands. In your argument you are trying to say, "You ignore God's commands too, so you are no better than us." But to argue that two groups are doing something wrong does not translate it into being a right.

In answer your question about Acts 4:32-35, the local church here does take care of its members who are in need. But your question makes assumptions about what the disciples did in Acts 4 which are not there. It does not say everyone sold what they had, Luke said, "all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them." It was the wealthy landowners in the congregation who sold their possessions to cover the expenses of taking care of the needy. It does not say that these people sold everything they had. What Luke did say was that each shared "any of the things he possessed." The early church did not practice communism. It encouraged its members to share their excess. "Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need" (Ephesians 4:28). See "All Things in Common" and "Economic Systems."

The building has the same features found in other public buildings in the area. It is called a building code and it is a part the price of having a facility in our country. If we met in a private home or rented a facility, air conditioning would still be there because it is basically a given in this region of the country -- just as you will find heat in public and private buildings.

The mistake being made is an assumption that there is a lack of authority. The church is commanded to gather together for worship (Hebrews 10:25; I Corinthians 11:20; 14:26). We could choose to gather in someone's home, but local ordinances, for reasons of safety, limit the number of people who can gather at one time in a private home. We could rent a facility, and many congregations do so. We could met outdoors some place, but that would cause problems when the weather becomes severe. Many congregations purchase a building simply because it is the most economical way to have a meeting place for church in their region and we try to make sure the Lord's money is used wisely. See "What is an Expedient?" for details.