Should a Church Meet in a House or a Building?

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Category: Questions & Answers

There is nothing in Scripture that mandates we meet in one place or another. Rather we are free to meet where it works for our circumstances.

“Dear Brother Tim, Please excuse my English which is very bad.” This comes from Nadia from Madagascar. “Is the concept of church buildings (going to a church – the building) every Sunday – that is the way most Christians work to assemble biblical?” So it’s a question. There’s a question mark at the end of this. “Is the concept of church buildings – the way most Christians assemble – is that biblical? Going to a church – the building – every Sunday? In the light of Scriptures, Holy Spirit, and prayer, God revealed to me that it wasn’t and that we have to return to the biblical assembling – the home church, taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. Jesus didn’t tell us to build nor to name buildings where we had to assemble. Even when 3,000 people were converted the day of Pentecost, they didn’t say, oh, let’s go build a building. I’ve discovered also that all this way of assembling are inherited from paganism, Roman, and Athenian traditions.”

So she asks the question, but then before she gives anybody time to answer it, she says that Scripture, Holy Spirit, and prayer – God has revealed to her that it wasn’t correct and right. So I think she’s not actually – I don’t get the feeling that she’s asking about or asserting herself as to whether or not buildings should be called churches. Certainly, the church is the people – not the building, but that doesn’t seem to be her issue. Her issue seems to be with buildings altogether. Her issue seems to be: Is it right and appropriate to buy a building for a church – the church being the people – to come together and meet in. She says that Scripture, Holy Spirit, and prayer – through all those means, God has revealed that it wasn’t and that we have to return to the biblical assembling – the home church – taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles. So she’s making that assertion, but let’s ask that question. (incomplete thought) When I read questions, I don’t just buy into their assertions. We need to step back and ask if their presuppositions are correct. Are they right? Are they biblical? She is saying that Jesus Christ and the Apostles taught that the only proper way for the church to meet is in the home. So, we don’t need to spend a whole lot of time on this. But let’s think. Here’s one thing we can lay down. Jesus Himself never anywhere in Scripture taught that the church when it assembled, when two or three gathered together in His name, you had to do it in a home. Nor did He say you had to buy a building. He simply is silent on the matter. He doesn’t deal with it. You cannot come up with a verse where Jesus Christ discusses this. So what do we have? What we have is the book of Acts. Because I can tell you this as well, there is no place in any of the epistles, and I’ll include the book of Acts, that demands that we meet in any specific location. There is no commandment. There is no mandate. It doesn’t exist. What we have is the example of the early church – primarily the book of Acts, but there are some places in the epistles as well where indeed we’re told where they met. Let’s look at some of those. The first thing I want you to think about is this: Acts 2:42. Let’s turn there. Acts 2:42. Whoever gets there, read it to me. Acts 2:42. “And they continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine and the fellowship, and the breaking of bread and prayers.” How far did you want me to read? Tim: Now see, hold your place. That text tells us what the early church did. And what did they do? Four things. (from the room) Doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. Tim: They gave themselves to the Apostles’ doctrine, to what? (from the room) Breaking of bread. Tim: Breaking of bread. (from the room) Prayers. Tim: Prayer. And that’s not the right order, brother. What’s the exact Spirit-given order? (from the room) They continued steadfastly in the Apostles’ doctrine (Tim: right), fellowship, breaking of bread, and then prayer. Tim: There you go. Now, go down to v. 46. What does it say? “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house…” Tim: Okay. Stop. Where did they meet? (from the room) House to house. Tim: Before that. In the temple and… where did they break bread? House to house. Now see, again, there’s no mandate. There’s no commandment. There’s no imperative with regards to one or the other. Now what was the temple? The temple was a public place. The temple was a public building. They met there. We don’t know how long the early church met there, but they met there. Jesus often met there and would teach, but the Christians gathered together there. They also gathered together house to house. Let me ask you this. Paul – remember this? Acts 20? When he brings the elders from Ephesus together? Remember, he’s at Miletus. He’s on his way to Jerusalem. He calls together the Ephesian elders, and he says this: I have been faithful to you guys. And I taught publicly and from house to house. Let me ask you something. See how well you know your Bibles. When Paul was in Ephesus, where did he teach publicly? (unintelligible) Now he did that. He did that in the synagogues, but see, it doesn’t really say that the churches – the church – gathered together in the synagogue. But when he was at Ephesus and he taught publicly, where did he do it? One place specifically that we’re told about that he did it for two years. It kind of sounds like a dinosaur. Anybody know? Amy, you know? The Hall of one Tyrannus. Tyrannus – he basically gathered the saints together and taught in a school. So here’s my point. The early church in the temple and house to house. When he’s at Ephesus publicly – at least one of the public places was in the school of Tyrannus, and then house to house. Are we specifically told that you have to do it publicly or that you have to do it house to house? Now look, it’s true that when we go through Scripture, we have accounts of the church that met – can anybody give me examples? The church that met in whose house? (from the room) Philemon? Tim: In Philemon you’ve got it. Somebody look it up in Philemon. Philemon 1:2 – Somebody look that up and read that. “And Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house…” Tim: The church in your house. You could go to Romans 16. You’re going to get this idea of people meeting in a house. Collosians 4:15, . It’s true. There were churches that met in people’s houses. But let me ask you this question: . Somebody want to read that? “Therefore if the whole church assembles, and all speak in tongues…” Tim: Now just stop right there. When the whole church, or if the whole church assembles – what church? Who’s he writing to right there? – who’s he writing to? The church at Corinth. Can I ask you this? You remember in the book of Acts when Paul went to Corinth? Jesus Christ Himself spoke to him. Do you remember what He said to him? “Many people…” He had many people. Do you know how many people were saved? (incomplete thought) You guys can tell me what you think “many people” is. Is this many people? This many people can fit in a house. I have a feeling the church at Corinth was quite a bit bigger than this many people. I think when Jesus told Paul, “I have many people in that city,” I think He meant a whole lot more than this. And he talks there in 1 Corinthians 14:23 about the whole church coming together. Where would they do that? Brethren, there’s no commandment where they need to do that. Where would they do it? Well, look historically. Where have people done it? People have met in barns. People have met in homes. People have met outside. (from the room) Burger restaurants. Tim: People have met in burger restaurants. The Covenanters would meet out in secluded, hidden areas. Brethren, throughout history people have met where they can. There’s nothing in Scripture that forbids us to meet in a building or to purchase a building for the church to meet in. That’s not prohibited. It’s not as though there’s some holy aura about meeting in the homes. They met in the temple, the lecture hall of Tyrannus. There just simply isn’t anything in Scripture that mandates. So, listen, that’s legalistic to demand that we meet one place or the other. To demand it – it’s just simply not mandated in Scripture. We’re free there. We’re free to meet where it’s conducive to meet. Okay, next one…