Fellowship Halls

Adapted from an article by James P. Miller
via Stand, March, 1981.

It is with regret that we learn that one of the congregations is now building a "fellowship hall" to advance their understanding of the gospel of Christ. We regret more for it widens the gulf between them and all brethren who seek to stand against innovations in the church of our Lord. It means that the chance for reconciliation is now much less than before and shows that the tide of digression is gaining ground instead of losing force.

We hate to see any church that uses the name of Christ go into the recreation business for a number of reasons. First, it reflects a desire to be like the denominations around us without any thought for the mission of the church. Most of the sects decided around the turn of the century that they owned the whole man. They disregarded the Bible teaching of the home as the institution that provides for man's social needs. Paul, although speaking of the Lord's Supper, states the principle in (I Corinthians 11:22) in these words: "What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church of God, and shame them that have not?" It at best is an attempt to build up the church with something besides the gospel of Christ.

In the second place, it shows a complete lack of respect for the authority of Christ. If brethren can go this far where will the stopping place be? If a building to provide for the social part of man can be built with the Lord's money what would be prohibited? The church can go into business, buy and sell in the market place and engage in anything it desires without thought of Bible authority.

A complete misunderstanding of the word "fellowship" as taught in the Bible is the third objection we present for having "Fellowship Halls", built and maintained by the use of the Lord's money, that which has been laid by upon the first day of the week by the membership to be used in authorized ways to carry on the work of the church. The word "fellowship" occurs 15 times in the New Testament and not ONE time does it have reference to social affairs. It means "partnership" and is used in the ONLY way it can be applied and that to the fact that we are "fellows" or "partners" in the work of the Lord.

Many good brethren thought that the only issue that divided us was the Orphan Home. We tried to tell them then that the difference was far greater. No one wants a child without a home and the food and care necessary to its growth and development. The real issue was the attitude toward the Scripture. A warning was given that if we failed to go by the Bible on ANY matter, the gates would be open. A full and complete digression would be the result. NOW who can deny that we were right?

The Lord did not give His precious blood so any man in the guise of religion could have a place to play. he did not die to buy the things necessary for recreation for the physical man. To use this money, that has been laid by in store upon the first day of the week, as directed by the Word of the Lord, (I Corinthians 16:1,2) to buy, build, and maintain, anything of a secular, recreational nature, is to reduce the church to a social agency and lose forever its place in the scheme of God for the salvation of the souls of men.

It is our hope that these brethren will see the folly of such a course and abandon it before it is too late. Conservative brethren are going to have to take a new look at the entire picture and decide for themselves if they can be a party to such a course of action. Brethren, we need to face the facts, we are divided over completely different concepts of the church and its God-given mission in saving souls.