An Exchange on Kitchens in the Church Building


     The following exchange occurred in the setting of an Internet discussion list containing a number of preachers.  Before you consider this exchange, please read, "The Work of the Church" in the Archives of Bible Truths (simply click on to go there).


Don Martin to the list:


I have noticed many posts that appear to be sympathetic to the building that has been purchased and paid for out of the treasury and set aside for spiritual work being used for matters that are not the work of the church (I Tim. 3: 15, I Cor. 16: 1, 2). A building in which to meet is justified based on the command to assemble (Heb. 10: 25). It may be a rented commercial building, a private dwelling, or a building that has been constructed with meeting in mind and paid for by the treasury (cp. Acts 20: 7-12; 2: 46). The emphasis is never on the meeting place because the place is simply an expedient to execute the important: meeting to praise God and edify one another.

Using the argumentation and rationale that since most church own buildings have a water cooler and rest room facilities, this justifies a kitchen in which the members can come together to eat is beyond my ability to digest. Yet, this is the thinking that is always expressed by the social gospel advocates. The work of the church is not social eating and drinking (cp. Rom. 14: 17). The rebuttal, "the early Christians regularly ate together" is an evident failure to distinguish between individual and church (collectivity) action (cp. Acts 2: 46, I Tim. 5: 16).

A church providing rest room facilities and a water cooler to meet the natural physical needs of men as an incidental to meeting is in no way tantamount to a church including a kitchen in their building. I worked with a group in the area several years ago that I thought wanted to be scriptural. "We intend to be a scriptural church," they said. Within a short while, they decided that they needed a reliable place to meet. Hence, they drew up the building plans. I asked about the plans in general (I was studying with some of the members). I immediately found out that a kitchen was included in the master drawings. This was not just a small room in which to prepare the Lord's Supper, but a large area that was obviously designed for the serving and eating of common meals. It was called, "the fellowship hall."

Concerned readers, not only is there no authority for a kitchen in the church building, but such a practice constitutes a conceptual defect and flaw. "Fellowship" is never seen in the scriptures as a common meal, as being discussed. The kitchen in the church building concept is a debauchery of the spiritual entity for which Jesus shed his precious blood (Acts 20: 28-32).

Again, the "but people exchange pleasantries in the building," "babies are fed in the building," etc. are all lacking parallel properties both in essential design and enormity of application to the practice of a church placing a kitchen in their building. There is a significant difference between an incidental and a planned and part of the basic function act.


Don Martin to the list:


I have no sympathy for professing Christians who want to debauch the Lord's church by introducing the kitchen and social gospel concept into the work of the local church. Even when I was a practitioner of denominationalism, I knew such was foreign to Christianity and I opposed all such. However, there is the ever present danger that such thinking and practice will work its way into the Lord's church.

Before I went into full time preaching, the local preacher approached me. I would go to his office early on Saturday mornings and read any book in his library that I had not already read and he confronted me with the following: "Don, I spend a lot of time in the office and I want to move a refrigerator here so I can have refreshments." "Since I am new here, I thought I would see what you think and if you would help me move it," he added. I assumed the refrigerator would be in his locked office but I still asked, "where will you place the refrigerator?" His reply was, "I want it in the adjacent room." The adjacent room was where the mothers took their babies to change their diapers, etc. My reply was, "there will be problems if you place it in the cry room because children will be accessing it and it will turn into a mini kitchen." "Don, you are over reacting, will you help me move it?" My reply was, "no," and you are wrong for doing this." I was preaching all over the state at the time (fill in work) and I was absent a considerable about of the time following him moving the refrigerator into the cry room. I did receive multiple calls from different members telling me, "He is attacking you in his sermons and accusing you of being an extremist."

It was about two months later that he called me early on Saturday morning and wanted me to come to his office. I did so, not knowing what he now wanted. "Don, I want you to help me move the refrigerator out of the building." "Why," I asked. His reply was, "the children and adults started using the refrigerator for their personal matters and eating and drinking in general and it must go." This time I did help him move the refrigerator, I helped him move it off the church property.

I tell this true story simply to illustrate how things get started. The preacher was twice my age and he should have known better. As I have intimated in these two posts, the kitchen in the church building matter is more than a single issue, it is reflective a conceptual flaw of the gospel and the work of the local church. It appears, though, that man is ever determined to try to change the essential nature and work of the local church from special and spiritual to the common and even banal! The kitchen in the building was the forerunner for the now popular family life centers offering games and all kinds of frolic for all.

Thank you for your consideration of these posts. I also thank and commend the number of good posts regarding the matter of kitchens in the church building.


Don Martin to the list:


I do not recall seeing Sammy Wilks post before. Sammy, I encourage you to say more. I enjoy reading from others and seeing what they have to say on various subjects. Sammy wrote thus under the theme of "eating in the church building" in replying to Jake Johnson:

Jake, I believe Scripture teaches it would be wrong (per Paul's instructions in 1 Cor 11:22 and 34) to eat a common meal during the time the church was gathered for worship. However, I do not believe Paul's teaching condemns eating when the members are gathered for a purpose other than worship.

Don comments:

There are so many side, peripheral issues involved in any study. Being able to sort out these issues and focus on the primary matter is very important. "The kingdom of God is not meat and drink," wrote Paul (Rom. 14: 17). I understand that the subject involved the eating of meat, etc. and others judging based on this act. Also, some disregarding the weak to do as they desired (vs. 2-23). However, there is a general sense included, I believe, that says that meat and drink simply are not what compose the kingdom of God, the church is a spiritual institution with spiritual work assigned to it (I Tim. 3: 15).

The issue, as I see it, is whether or not the church (treasury) is authorized to have a building (rented or own) and in that building financially provide for a kitchen to be used for the common meals of the members. There is no doubt about the matter: there is absolutely no authority for such a practice. Such a concept of the local church is degrading and debauches the lofty work to be characteristic of the local

Sammy wrote above: "However, I do not believe Paul's teaching condemns eating when the members are gathered for a purpose other than worship."

I am not sure what Sammy means by the above statement. I recall in the past when there was a work day at the building, finding some in the basement eating a sandwich. This was food that they provided, as opposed to the treasury being used. This was not the purpose of them being at the building and it was generally incidental. Even in such a case, I have urged members not to eat in the building. In the case I just referenced, there was a store across from the building that provided eating arrangements and accommodations. Again, though, such as just mentioned is not the issue. For what occasion involving food would the members be gathered at the building, anyway? Gathering for food or a common meal involves houses (Acts 2: 46). Perhaps I am simple minded, but the church building is a place of worship, not secular school, games and frolic, boy scout meetings, political gatherings, or common meals. The only eating I know of in connection with "members gathering" at the building is the Lord's Supper (Lk. 22: 28, 29, I Cor. 11: 17-34).

When I go to a restaurant, I expect to eat a common meal. Restaurants are designed to prepare and serve food. A bunch of us plan on getting together Sunday afternoon to eat and share a common meal. However, this meal will be at a private dwelling and not the church building (cp. Acts 2: 46). There is nothing about a church building (secured by the treasury) that leads itself to common eating and drinking, either in the facility or nature of its work.


Don Martin to the list:


I have gone back to previous digests and noticed some of the posts that have been made under the theme of eating in the church building. I would like to briefly comment on the following post:

Raymond Wise wrote:

In Acts 6.2 the Apostles eschew the task of "waiting on tables." I must conclude that it is not wrong, per se, for a church to have tables for eating! I understand that in this case the tables (whether literal or metaphorical) were merely aids or instruments -- expedients -- in the service of an otherwise authorized activity: meeting the benevolent needs of the local church. But when the Grecian widows partook of the food provided for them by the church, were they partaking of it as "individuals" or as part of "the church"? Everything in the immediate context, and throughout the larger context of the early chapters of Acts, points to this as a "church" activity.

Don comments:

I believe Raymond is making a good point: the church (treasury) can be involved in eating other than the Lord's Supper, providing it is a matter of needy saints. This is precisely what is being taught in I Timothy 5: 3-16 (meeting of physical needs).

Raymond continues:

So here is at least a limited context in which a church could provide eating facilities for its members.

Don observes:

I grant that a local church (treasury) may be involved in feeding in the case of indigent members. However, this is a far cry from the kitchen in the church building and feeding all members (those not in need) that is characteristic of the social gospel. Also, as a student of history I have observed many times that those who push for the kitchen in the church building (building provided for by the treasury) truly have the social gospel in mind, not the occasional need to feed a needy saint.

Raymond further states:

Might there not be other contexts in which a church could provide eating facilities for its members?

Don answers:

This reasoning calling for the lesser to the greater is very common. However, the basic premise must be established. It is established that the local church (treasury) may be involved in food for a needy saint; however, the social gospel mentality is altogether a different matter!

Raymond states:

Mind you, I fully agree that it is not appropriate, or expedient, for the church to become a venue for predominately social activities, which merely entertain. But I do NOT agree that the church is not authorized to engage in "social" activities per se. On the contrary, the church is authorized to do little else! The church is inherently a "social" institution -- "social" in the classic and truest sense of the word.

Don reflects:

Yes, the local church is essentially social (companionable, intimate, and urbane, A Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms, by Joseph Devlin) but it is also spiritual. While the local church is in the people business from its very nature to its work, other than the area of benevolence, the local church is spiritual and interested in the spiritual development of people, not the filling of their stomachs, fun and frolic, and physical togetherness of the sake of simple togetherness.

Raymond then talks about members meeting in private houses and sharing a meal. From this, his conclusion is as follows: The point is that if it was a proper "work of the church" when undertaken in private homes, why could it not be undertaken in the church building? The authority would be the same kind of derivative authority that allowed for the Jerusalem church to have "eating facilities" to further the work of benevolence. Here the facilities would be used in the furtherance of mutual edification.

Don answers:

There is a marked difference between Christians individually coming together to share a meal in a private house and in the local church providing a church building with a kitchen for the physical and social feeding of all the members (even if the members bring their own food). It is an indisputable fact that the early Christians were gregarious and often together, sharing meals in their houses. It is also clear that this was done in their houses and not in a public place of worship (cp. Acts 2: 46).

Many scholars believe that the "love feasts" were for the purpose of the worthier members having an occasion to share with those who were basically in need (see 2 Pet. 2: 13; Jude 12). However, there is nothing to indicate that the treasury (the church collective) was involved (cp. I Cor. 11: 20, 21). Every time reference is made to such a practice, it is accompanied with adverse consequences or happenings. Some believe that this practice was so abused that it was finally simply abandoned.

I again repeat that the work of the local church is spiritual as opposed to physical and secular (I Tim. 3: 15). The only time the treasury (collectivity) is to be used for feeding people would be in the case of the needy saint, all things equal and understood. "The kitchen in the building is an expedient to accomplish this act of church benevolence," some argue. In my experiences, I have never seen even what I believed to be an approximation or a semblance of a benevolence circumstance that could even begin to justify the kitchen in the building demand. Let us face it: The kitchen in the building is for the feeding and filling of the stomachs of  secularly minded who want to play church and reduce the local church to a mere social club!


Don Martin to Larry Jacobson and the list:


Larry and the list, I trust all are well. Larry wrote:

"The kingdom of God is not meat and drink," wrote Paul (Rom. 14: 17) If this was a condemnation of churches having common meals, why do we read of disciples and later Christians having common meals?

Don comments:

Larry, may I kindly point out that you persist in failing to distinguish between individual and collective action. The scriptures ineludibly point out that there is often a difference in what the individual and the church can do (I Tim. 5: 3-16). We do not read of churches (collective action involving the treasury) ever coming together for a common meal. We do read that the individual Christians shared food in their houses (Acts 2: 46).

Larry wrote:

I can read of Jesus' disciples sharing common meals and of Christians sharing common meals but nothing is ever said about a church building. It's just as well. The building is just a building. There's nothing magical about the building that transforms an assembly of saints into the church only when they are in the building. The church is the church no matter where they assemble.

Don observes:

Yes, Larry, we can read of the early Christians participating in a common meal (Acts 2: 46). It is also true that the term "church building" is not found in the scriptures. However, it is evident that the church at Corinth did not meet in a private dwelling or house, as such (I Cor. 11: 22). Larry, I must beg to differ with your statement: "the building is just a building." If a building is purchased with the treasury, it then is designated for the work God has assigned to the local church (the collectivity, I Tim. 3: 15). This work does not include the provision of a facility in which to prepare and serve common meals (a kitchen) simply for the social enjoyment of the members.

Larry wrote:

I personally oppose a common meal during a worship service (as a brother said 1 Cor 11 refereed to) or one that is supplied from the church treasury.

Don answers:

I commend you for you conviction! I should think that you oppose such because there is no authority for a common meal during a worship service or for the church treasury being used to supply simply a social meal. Why not be totally consistent and say that there is also no authority for the building that is provided by the treasury for the express purpose of worship being debauched by turning it into a facility for simply a social meal?

Larry stated:

I have no objection if the elders allow Christians the use of a church owned building for potluck meals. It's their business, no one else's what they allow.

Don comments:

Larry and the list, elders have no innate authority, only delegated. Hence, if a matter is not authorized by scripture, the elders have arrogated to themselves a right (law making) that does not belong to them. I suppose there is a matter of gradation or degrees involved between a treasury being used to provide a kitchen in the "church building" and the necessary food to physically satisfy and in members bringing their own food to the building and using the building for common eating. However, why violate any matter? Besides, why would people bring food to the church building to eat? The last place on earth I would consider for a common meal would be the church building. You know why? The scriptural church building (authority derived from the command to meet, Heb. 10: 25) is simply not designed to serve as a restaurant. There are no facilities for cooking or even heating food, serving food, or the cleaning up of the dishes. Private dwellings have kitchens and are designed to accommodate the physical necessity of eating. We live in our houses: We worship in the building provided by the treasury.

Larry concluded:

I oppose the idea of making meals in the building a matter of fellowship.

Don responds:

Larry, you have already drawn some lines in your above statement in which you state what you do oppose. I suppose that what you mean in the immediately above is making a pot lunch at the building a matter of fellowship. Again, though, even involving the "lesser" matter of members bringing their own food to the building for a social, where is the authority and where does this practice lead? "I remember when there were no kitchens in the church buildings. We all brought our own food and eat on the grounds," I have heard older members say. "After a while, someone said, 'why not include a kitchen in the new building so we can be more comfortable?'" The next stage was, "since we do have members that do not have as much, why not have the church (treasury) provide the food for all to eat alike?"


Don Martin to Larry and the list:


First, Larry, thank you for the commendable tone of your challenge post. I appreciate the spirit in which you are probing. You address the issue and not my motives or a host of other irrelevant and deflective matters.

I have posted that the work of the collectivity (the church building/treasury) is not that of physically filling the stomachs of all the members. I have conceded that the authorized matter of church benevolence (treasury) could involve feeding an indigent member; however, this is totally removed from a church including a kitchen in which to prepare and serve food for a common meal to all the members. Larry has also opposed a common meal at the time of worship.

Hear Larry:

Thank you, Don, for your post. In reality, we are not that far apart.

Don comments:

Larry, the thing about error, any error, is that there is usually a prompting attitude. I believe there is no authority for the treasury being used to provide a kitchen in the building, a building that is designed and justified for worship. One another level, I contend that members have no business having a pot lunch in the church building (they provide the food and not the treasury). I have contended this for the above reason and also why would anyone want to have a pot luck in the scriptural meeting house (there are no means of preparing, heating, serving, or cleaning up the food and dishes, besides, the seating arrangements, etc. are not such that lend themselves to a physical meal in the building).

Larry wrote:

Regarding the church vs. individual. Most of my posts have referenced the two churches here that I am familiar with. One eats potluck meals in the civic center while the other eats potluck meals in a classroom annex building across the street from the main auditorium.

The civic center group claims to be just a bunch of individuals but they condemn the other group saying the church is having a common meal on church property.

I see hypocrisy here. Either they are both the church or both a group of individuals. The only difference is location. Assembling inside a church owned building does not magically transform a group of individuals into the church.

Don remarks:

Larry, there is a clear distinction taught between the church collective (often involving the treasury) and individual action (I Tim. 5: 16). I can read of the church (treasury) being used in preaching, edifying the saved, and relieving needy saints (I Cor. 9: 14, 2 Cor. 11: 8; I Cor. 16: 1, 2). However, I read not one word of the church having any responsibility to feed members or people in general. Also, when the church building is used (even when members bring their own food), the church is necessarily involved in the action, an action, I again stress, for which there is no authority (cp. Acts 2: 46).

Larry continues:

If it is okay to have dinner on the grounds, why is it a sin to move that pot luck dinner into the building away from rain, heat, cold, and bugs? Both the property and building are owned by the church. I see no difference here.

Don comments:

Larry, you are exhibiting typical progression in this matter. Here is how it works: dinner on the grounds of the church property (members provide the food); move inside to eat in the church building; have the church (treasury) provide the food for all; have the church to add a kitchen for the convenience of those present. The progression continues: day care centers; church schools teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic; family life centers offering a range of social activities, including game rooms, a theater, and basket ball courts, etc. After all, if we can practice one thing for which there is no Bible authority, why not practice what we want?

Larry asked:

On another point, suppose a church purchases a building that already has a kitchen and annex big enough for the whole group to set up tables to eat a pot luck meal. How could that be a sin?

Don answers:

I have known of all sorts of scenarios: one church purchased a building used by denominational people that had a kitchen. They left the kitchen in place and soon had people using the reasoning that you mention in the immediately proceeding. Another church purchased a similar building and turned the kitchen into an extra classroom (justified space), thus eliminating the potential problem. Again, even if we could produce some circumstance that we thought did not financially involve the treasury (the above does), we still have the feeding of people and the practice of common meals becoming the work of the local church as opposed to individuals sharing common meals in their houses (Acts 2: 46).

Larry reasons:

One group here in town claims that church kitchens are a sin, but they have a room with kitchen cabinets, a kitchen sink, a refrigerator, and kitchen counter tops. Food ( Lord's Supper) is prepared there so by definition the room is a kitchen. Of course they cannot call it a kitchen because they preach from the pulpit that church kitchens are sinful. Do you see the hypocrisy here?

Don replies:

Larry and the list, we also have a room that is designed for the preparation of the only authorized eating of which I read that is to be done by the collectivity, the Lord's Supper. It is a six by four foot room, not exactly what we would view as a kitchen that is designed to heat, prepare, serve the food, and accommodate people to eat a common meal. We have authority for the room in which to prepare the Lord's Supper (I Cor. 11); however, we do not have authority for the kitchen used to feed people.

Larry reaches again:

Another point. I know of no member's house that is large enough to have all the church members assemble for a potluck meal. The church building is just a convenience or an expedient. There is nothing sinful here. Why let the building sit there idle when it can be used for saints to gather together after services. They are already there. It's a real pain for families such as mine who live out of town to have to keep the food in the car until after services so we can take it to the civic center.

Don observes:

Larry, for a matter to be an expedient, the thing facilitated by it must be authorized. If the church (collectivity involving the treasury) is required to provide common meals for people, then the local church would be authorized to use the church building and also provide a kitchen, etc. The Lord's Supper is authorized; hence, the room I mentioned in which to prepare the Lord's Supper is an authorized expedient.

Larry asks:

Are church kitchens authorized if they are used for benevolence or to prepare the Lord's Supper?

Don answers:

Benevolence for needy saints is taught as far as a work of the local church (treasury), all things equal and understood, and so is the matter of the Lord's Supper. However, I cannot imagine a situation involving meeting the needs of needy saints where a church would be justified in providing a kitchen such as we have discussed to exercise benevolence.

Larry concludes:

I still contend that the building is just a building and the elders or the members if the group has no elders can choose what they want to do in their own buildings and other churches have no right to condemn them for eating pot luck meals on church property.

Don responds:

Larry, the church building is not just a building. When the treasury purchases it, it becomes a special building that is to be used for the work of teaching the gospel, edifying the saved, and relieving the needs of needy saints. Providing a common meal is the work of the family, individuals, etc., but not the local church. Therefore, to so use the church building is to illegally or unscripturally use it. I had a business call me the other day with this request: "Mr. Martin, we are located close to the church building where you preach and we would like to use the parking lot in conjunction with our work during the week when the church is not using it, may we?" My reply to him was, "the church property was purchased by the church for the use and work that God has assigned to the local church. Therefore, we must respectfully decline." His reply was refreshing: "Mr. Martin, I perfectly understand your refusal, I agree that churches have become social clubs and have departed from their spiritual function. it is good to find a church that believes in being a church and doing the work the church is suppose to do," said he.

This man was not a Christian but he knows more about the work and nature of the local church, it would appear, than a lot of professing Christians. 


Don Martin to Larry and the list:


It is apparent regarding the kitchen in the church building issue that regarding those for and opposed to kitchens in the building and/or members eating in the building that there is a difference in understanding relative to individual versus collective or "corporate" action.

Larry wrote:

Regarding the church vs. individual. Most of my posts have referenced the two churches here that I am familiar with. One eats pot luck meals in the civic center while the other eats pot luck meals in a classroom annex building across the street from the main auditorium.

The civic center group claims to be just a bunch of individuals but they condemn the other group saying the church is having a common meal on church property.

I see hypocrisy here. Either they are both the church or both a group of individuals. The only difference is location. Assembling inside a church owned building does not magically transform a group of individuals into the church.

Don comments:

If a Christian starts a business, most understand that this is not the church at work. If two Christians start a secular business, again this has nothing necessarily to do with the local church. It is inaccurate to say, "the church is in the janitorial business" just because Bob and Jim, who are members of the church, have started a janitorial business. It would also follow that just because Bob, Jim, Mike, Hank, and Ray, all members of the local church, start a janitorial business, this does not necessarily mean that the church has a janitorial business. One the highest level, even if the business owners represent the totality of the membership of a particular local church, it does not axiomatically follow that the local church (the local church in the sense of God's corporation) is in the janitorial business.

Let me now introduce another scenario: the local church decides that there is money in the janitorial business. Therefore, the church by investing the treasury in this business, starts a janitorial business and uses the church building out of which to work and to store the needed janitorial supplies, tools, etc. It can now truly be said that the local church is in the janitorial business. The janitorial business is not now a business involving individual Christians separate and apart from the local church (the collectivity), but is truly a work and business belonging to the local church in the collective and corporate sense, if you will.

After a similar fashion, just because Bob, Jim, and Mike get together at a restaurant and have a meal, a meal that they themselves pay for, does not mean that the church is having a meal. Even if all the members that make up the local church go to a restaurant and have a meal, this is not the collectivity having a meal as the collectivity. When they, however, involve the treasury and building belonging to the church, the collectivity or corporation is then in the common meal business. The church (collectivity) has no authority for engaging in secular and business enterprise because this is not the work of the local church. After a similar fashion, the local church has no authority for providing common meals for the members simply for social reasons. This is not the work of the church.

As we have seen, the scriptures distinguish between individual and collective or corporate action (I Tim. 5: 16). Based on I Timothy 5: 16, we learn that an individual Christian can perform a work and it not be the church (the spiritual corporation, if you will) doing it; the individual is authorized to do a matter the local church is not authorized to do; and the work of the local church is limited compared to the work of the individual Christian (see I Tim. 5: 3-16).

It is incontrovertible that the local church has work and a treasury to execute and finance this work (cp. I Tim. 3: 15, I Cor. 16: 1, 2, I Cor. 9: 3-1, 2 Cor. 11: 8). The belongings of the individual Christian are his possessions, not the possessions of the local church (Acts 5: 4). However, once these "belongings" have been contributed to the treasury, they cease being the individual's belongings and become the treasury, belonging to the corporation (Acts 5: 1-4). The use of the treasury is governed by the work God has assigned to the local church (the treasury, the church viewed as God's spiritual corporation). There are many good works in which the individual Christian may engage, such as a janitorial business to provide for his own and to assist others (I Tim. 5: 8; Eph. 4: 28). However, a janitorial business is not a work that God has assigned to the local church. God has said that the church (collectivity) is to be involved in teaching the gospel, edifying the saved, and exercising benevolence for needy saints (I Tim. 3: 15; 2 Tim. 4: 1-5, I Cor. 16: 1, 2). Providing simply social activity such as family life centers, games and frolic, poolrooms, and common meals is not the work of the local church.

There are basically three recognized actions seen in the scriptures: (1) individual action (I Tim. 5: 16); (2) church or corporate action, usually involving the activation of the treasury, the building, etc. (I Tim. 5: 16); and (3) church action viewed in the distributive sense, involving the assembly, but each Christian individually acting (I Cor. 11: 17-34). Even in action number three, the act must be authorized as an assembly act, such as the Lord's Supper, congregational singing, giving, preaching, and prayer (I Cor. 11: 17-34; Eph. 5: 19; I Cor. 16: 1, 2; Acts 20: 7; I Cor. 14). I again stress: a common meal is not an assembly act involving the church (treasury/building, cp. Acts 2: 46).

I encourage and commend all that are studying this issue with an aim to practicing what the scriptures teach. Thank you, Larry, for your exchanges and points.


Don Martin to Gary Wallace and the list:


An essential part of any serious study relative to kitchens in the building is a study of I Corinthians 11: 17-34. I am persuaded that the text has been grossly abused by both those for the kitchen and those against the kitchen in the building. The text offers some challenges as far as attempting to fully understand exactly what was happening as opposed to what should have been prevailing. Even if these matters are understood, there is still the challenge of exactly duplicating the cleaned up event today.

Gary wrote thus regarding the discussion as a whole:

Here is the short version of problems that are not being dealt with in this discussion:

1. As stated and used, appeals to First Corinthians miss the whole point of the letter. Paul states his concern at the very beginning -- "there are divisions among you". In that context, the problem with their meals was not where or when or why they were eating "in the assembly", but that they were NOT "eating TOGETHER in the assembly" -- that is, they were dividing, probably along social lines -- and eating clique-wise. So any appeal to First Corinthians that encourages division of, or between, congregations is probably erroneous.

Don comments:

Please consider some facts seen in the text of I Corinthians 11: 17-34:

(1). The members were gathered together for the purpose of worship (vs. 17, 18, the expression "in the church", en ekklesia, means the assembled church). They evidently had assembled to "eat the Lord's Supper" but because of the prevailing circumstances, they could not properly observe the Lord's Supper (vs. 20).

(2). They had shamefully turned the occasion of the Lord's Supper into an orgy, some (the wealthier) gorging on the food and intoxicating drink that they had brought (vs. 21, 33, 34).

(3). It appears that the food was brought by the wealthier of the members at Corinth to be shared with those who were in need (vs. Ibid.). Hence, the treasury was not involved in the provision of the food. Many scholars believe this was the "love feast" probably referenced by Jude and Peter, a feast in which those who had shared with the Christians who were in need (cp. Jude 12; 2 Pet. 2: 13).

(4). Paul forcefully condemned the debauchery and profanation of the occasion (vs. 17-34).

(5). Paul does not condemn some sharing their food with those in need (an act of benevolence), but he does strongly condemn them even blundering this act by turning it into a drunken orgy in which those who had not were further humiliated and ridiculed (see vs. 22, 33, 34).

Some scholars believe that there was so much abuse associated with the so called "love feasts" that they were abandoned. Hence, the possible reason so little is said and, as a consequence, known today about these "feasts of charity" (Jude 12). It is also likely that Paul had further corrections to make regarding the situation of I Corinthians 11: 17-34 (see vs. 34).

Based on the foregoing facts, there is really no semblance between what was happening at Corinth (if they had done it without the abuse of the occasion of the Lord's Supper, orgy, etc ) and the practice of the social gospel advocates in providing a kitchen in a church building that is used for a common meal for the members in general (sometimes non-members) and even often paying for the food out of the treasury. The whole event of the "love feast," as I understand it, is really hard for the average American to appreciate. There are relatively few today who actually have need of essential food.

The "eating and drinking" of verse 22 would be more harmonious with the eating and drinking associated with the kitchen in the building practice. Therefore, regarding common eating and drinking (the absence of intoxicating drink must be understood, Prov. 23: 29-35), Paul said, "What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?..." (cp. Acts 2: 46). The "eating and drinking" at Corinth, then, cannot be successfully used as a precedent or example to justify the modern kitchen in the building practice.

Through the years, I have come across many schemes to promote church growth. One has been the kitchen in the building. Hear them: "By having a kitchen in the church building, people are drawn to the building, which they visually associate with the church. Their resistance is broken down by the pleasant experience of food and in this non-hostile environment, they get to know the members. Therefore, the food and festivity of the occasion is used as an expedient to draw people to the church." As far as a benefit to existing members we are told, "the members also benefit from the gathering in the church building kitchen in that the kitchen offers a warm, non-abrasive climate that promotes relaxation and getting to know each other." Besides being without authority and a component of the Social Gospel Movement, the kitchen in the building providing common meals falls more under the heading and activity that Jesus addressed. "Ye seek me...because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled. Labor not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed" (Jn. 6: 26, 27). Again, the mission of the church is not to feed the stomachs, but to provide spiritual sustenance (I Tim. 3: 15, cp. Phili. 3: 19). It has been aptly said that if we use chicken and ice cream to gain people, they will be as spiritually dead as the chicken and as cold as the ice cream. Much of religion, even often including some "Churches of Christ," have abandoned religion and have taken up a social campaign, having less and less emphasis on the gospel, forgiveness, sin, hell, and heaven. They have become social clubs that attempt to gain and keep the people placated by secular stimulation: the kitchen in the church building, ad infinitum.  (You might be interested in reading, "I Corinthians 11: 20-22, 33, 34, What Were They Doing?")