Why Don't You Have a Kitchen?
Concerning Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul writes, "And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18). The church must have authorization from its Head for all that it does and for all for which its resources are used. In affirmation of this truth, the same apostle also writes, "And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him" (3:17).
With these thoughts in mind, churches today commonly engage in, and fund, activities that are foreign to the New Testament. Churches add party rooms called "fellowship halls" onto their meeting places, include kitchens in their building plans, and fund and host social and recreational meals for their own members, as well as for those in the community. Since these practices are so commonplace, the question is sometimes asked, "Why doesn't the church you attend have a kitchen?" In response to this question, please consider the following:
1. The funds collected by the church are to be used for the Lord's work. As a collective body, the church is authorized by God to take up a collection on the first day of the week (1 Cor. 16:1-4). As far as the expenditure of these funds is concerned, the New Testament only authorizes the church to engage in three areas of work, including preaching the gospel (1 Thess. 1:8), edifying its members (Eph. 4:11-16), and providing for the needs of destitute members (Rom. 15:25-26). Using the Lord's money to build kitchens and party rooms so that the church can fund and host social meals is an activity that cannot be made to fit into any of the three categories in which the church is authorized to use its funds. Each church is responsible for using its collected funds to carry out the work it has been assigned by the Lord, rather than squandering those funds on unauthorized activities.
2. Feeding physical hunger is a function of the home. A biblical example of a church hosting a social meal is recorded in 1 Corinthians 11. However, the example set by the church in Corinth is one that has been recorded in order to emphasize that in which the church should not engage. Paul writes, "What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I do not praise you" (v. 22). Furthermore, the apostle addressed this problem, saying, "But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home" (v. 34). The church is not authorized to use its funds and facilities to satisfy physical hunger by providing social meals for its members, or for anyone else. Instead, the individual homes of the members constitute the appropriate venue for satisfying such needs. The resources of the home are to be used to feed physical hunger, rather than the resources of the church.
3. The church is not authorized to enter the restaurant business. The only "meal" the church is authorized to host is the Lord's Supper (1 Cor. 11:23-34). Furthermore, the only meal to which the New Testament refers as involving "fellowship" or "communion" is the Lord's Supper. Paul writes, "The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" (1 Cor. 10:16). Whether for profit, or not for profit, the church has no authority from its Head to take part in the restaurant business by funding and hosting social meals.
The Lord has plans for the church as evidenced by the instruction contained in His word, and His plans do not include using the church to fulfill the social and recreational desires of man. Any church that builds or makes use of a kitchen or party room to host social meals is a church that needs to return to the "pattern of sound words" revealed in Scripture (2 Tim. 1:13).