A Church Kitchen at Jerusalem?
One of our readers asked for help in responding to a brother who is defending church kitchens on this basis: how do we know the Jerusalem church didn't have one to use in the daily serving of food to its widows (Acts 6:1-6)?
First, the question is not, how do we know they didn't have a kitchen; it is, how do we know they did? We can only follow the apostolic pattern (Philippians 3:17) by observing what the Bible says the early Christians did. Guessing about things they might have done, but things about which the Bible says nothing opens the door to endless innovations.
Second, I doubt the Jerusalem church even had a building at this point in its existence, much less a kitchen! There was so much poverty in the group that many were selling land or houses just to meet the physical needs of their brethren (Acts 4:34-35). Given that, and the fact that their number quickly swelled into the thousands (Acts 2:41; 4:4), where would they have gotten the funds to build a meetinghouse sufficient for so many? Acts 2:46 points to the temple courts as their meeting place.
Third, the only justification for a church having any facility is that it is a means of carrying out the work God has assigned the church (collectively). A building is authorized because we are commanded to assemble for worship (Hebrews 10:25; Acts 20:7; etc.). Classrooms for edification/instruction in God's word might be included (Ephesians 4:11-12; etc.). If one is going to argue in favor of a gym, he must show that recreation is a church function. If one is going to argue in favor of a kitchen and eating hall, he must show that eating is a church function. Facilities for doing unauthorized things are themselves unauthorized. If the New Testament contained any commands or examples that made dinners and recreation the church's work, brethren would not resort to arguments such as the one we are considering. Not only are there no positive statements to support such things, Paul's prohibitions in 1 Corinthians 11 explicitly place eating in the realm of the home, not the church. "What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? … If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home …" (vs. 22, 34).
Fourth, who's kidding whom? What church has so many members lacking food and cooking capability that a kitchen in the meetinghouse is legitimately the most practical way to provide for them? And more to the point, in what congregation is preparing meals for indigent members the exclusive, or even the primary, use of such facilities? It is dishonest to justify building a facility for one purpose, then switching (perhaps all the while planning) to use it for others. By such tactics, we might console ourselves, but God is not deceived.