X0624...........Christian Church Building
The tradition of Christian church building is a long one--BUT---Biblically incorrect!
In the Old covenant, before Christ, Israel was told to construct the "house of God"--the temple in Jerusalem, in which the presence of God literally dwelled (behind the veil of the temple). Israel was commanded by Old Covenant law to bring "tithe" (1/10th) of certain crops and herd animals into the temple to make as an offering (payment) to God--for sin. This "sanctuary" of God was operated by the Levitical priesthood--the "delegated--designated--appointed--anointed" tribe of Israel which had the authority to perform the ministry in the temple. The other tribes of Israel were referred to as the "congregation".
Certainly a very familiar "picture" to the Christian!
The church building (often referred to as a "sanctuary--temple--the house of God"). The "ministry" designated to one leader, often said to "have authority" over the congregation. The job of the vast majority of believers simply to bring financial support for this "house" and this "ministry".
This typology has been used as the Biblical basis for Christian church building and church operation, as well as the basis of "pastoral authority" for centuries. It is believed that 3rd or 4th century Christians (who lacked a coherent availability to new testament scripture) imitated the example of the Jewish synagogue.
Some would say that these examples are "of the law" and therefore they should be used as the example for the New Covenant Christian church. The first point to consider is that Christians are certainly not obeying the true requirements of the Old Covenant law--unless they are building their "temple" on the temple mount in Jerusalem--and utilizing the exact materials and plans God gives in scripture. Furthermore the laws are being ignored, since Christians are not sacrificing animals and offering grain (and carrying out all the instructions pertaining to the sacrificial offerings).
Somehow, somewhere, somebody "magically" transferred the tithes and offering from animals and grain--into money!
Next, we ask honestly, is any "pastor" of a Christian church ready to proclaim himself the "high priest of Jerusalem"? In the Bible only the high priest received and lived of the remnants of the tithe/offering.
But, the biggest reason Christians should not follow these examples, is that the New Covenant (testament) clearly and specifically changes these Old Covenant definitions and functions. When Jesus was alive, He stated that the law would not change "until all be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). Yet, after His death and resurrection, the Bible tells us that He has now fulfilled the law (Romans 8). It is clear (and no Christian would disagree!) that Christ fulfilled the sacrificial laws. It is His blood that now cleanses sin. His body (which he called bread and meat--the substance of the old covenant offering) is the offering for sin in the new covenant (Hebrews 10:18).
But these changes in the new covenant effect all of sacrificial law. The priesthood is changed (Hebrews 7:12--1Peter 2:9), since ministry is a gift for every believer to function in (Ephesians 4). The house of God in the new testament is the believer's home. The "temple of the Holy Spirit" in the heart of man. "Ministry" is simple service to others, and NOT authority over other believers (Matthew 20:25-26--Mark 10:42-43--Luke 22:25-29). The veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom when Jesus died on he cross. The presence of God is now "wherever 2 or 3 are gathered" (Matthew 18:20)
Jesus gave a new example of how to operate together in His New Covenant.
Jesus had a mission--it was called the Gospel--the Good News. It means salvation by faith in the name of Jesus. It is lived out by spreading the message freely--by praying for the sick and those who need deliverance, feeding the poor, helping the homeless, and visiting those in prison. Jesus' perfect example of how to spread this message could be called "apostleship". It simply means operating in small groups which are lead directly by God. It is clear and obvious that jesus operated with a small group, whom He prayed would do all that he did and greater. Jesus "released" people to ministry--He did not hold others "under His authority" as the format of traditional church demands.
In the New Covenant, Jesus is called the "only Potentate" of the church (1timothy 6:15)--the Head of the church--the only One who is meant to have authority over believers. In the example set by the church in the Bible, these small groups were a "body" (the word "church" means body). A group of equals, brothers and sisters, focusing all their time, effort and resources to further the Gospel, by the method Jesus had demonstrated.
In the Bible, the church followed Christ's example and the rules for operating together as believers (as outlined in 1Corinthains 12-14 and Acts 2 and 4). These rules and example describe a network. A large group of believers--connected with one another, operating on a daily basis thru simple home meetings. At these meetings they prayed in the Spirit and asked and received God's instructions on how/when/where to further the Gospel. Being in a small group they could readily and efficiently carry out the instructions of the Lord.
Truly a non-authortarian method--and certainly no need for a large building to meet in!
If Black Rock Congregational Church has 1500 members in 42 communities, they have a perfect, God-given network for operating as the church and furthering the Gospel. BRCC has 1500 wonderful, talented, intelligent, gifted, Christian believers, who know the Gospel and have been given specific, powerful gifts by God to share this message. The concern of people in this case has been the possible misuse of natural resources in the property that BRCC owns. Our concern is the misuse of the God-given resource--the people which are the church.
In the New Covenant the church operated together as equals under Christ's direct guidance, with all their effort, time and resources focused on the Gospel. In the Bible, the church was "built" by getting people saved and specifically NOT by building a structure.
Christians are supposed to build the Church.