The Mission of the Church
When the Lord established his church he assigned it a mission. But man has perverted that mission and has engaged the church in numerous activities that are not the work of the church. The churches sponsor basketball teams, summer camps for the young, boy scout troops, greased pig chases and the like. Churches are building youth camps, banquet halls (misnamed "fellowship" halls), kitchens, gymnasiums and recreation centers.
From the bulletin of a church in Lubbock, Texas, comes this announcement: "Preliminary work of the construction of a high school student center for the Broadway Church of Christ . . . has been started by Claude Martin and Son with the cost estimated at $53,000.00. The floor space of 6,200 feet will embrace a large recreational room, a snack bar, lounge, kitchen, storage and mechanical rooms, two offices and rest rooms." This was about four years ago. I could multiply quotations from the bulletins of churches throughout the country that are doing the same sort of thing, if space permitted, but I shall only cite one or two more.
In the first part of November 1961, an article appeared in the Houston Chronicle by Louis Cassels, United Press International. The title, CONSTRUCTION COSTS MOUNT, CHURCH NOW FUNCTIONS AS COMMUNITY CENTER. I can only quote a short excerpt here. "Once upon a time, not many years ago, a church was a simple auditorium-like building used mainly for Sunday worship services . . . no more. Today's typical church is a complex physical plant with educational, social and recreational facilities.... Some larger churches include kitchens, snack bars, craft and game rooms, libraries and rendezvous rooms. Some rendezvous rooms are even equipped with hi-fi, television sets, and radios.... a few extremists have pointed out that Jesus of Nazareth was able to attract very sizable crowds without a skating rink or even an air-conditioned building. All he offered was the living word of God."
The following statement, made by a New York Jew, appeared in Life Magazine, Oct. 6, 1958. "There is nothing to offend me in the modern church. The minister gives a sermon on juvenile delinquency one week, reviews a movie next week, and then everyone goes downstairs and plays bingo. The first part of the church they build now a day is the kitchen. Five hundred years from now people will dig up these churches, find the steam tables, and wonder what kind of sacrifices we performed."
Nobody but a crank would deny that people, especially young people, need recreation and wholesome entertainment. I am sure that recreational facilities of the right kind would help the modern problem of juvenile delinquency. BUT THIS IS NOT THE WORK OF THE CHURCH. There are three institutions in existence today by divine authority: the home, the church and the state. Each has its proper sphere. The work of the church is the salvation of souls. Nothing in the New Testament authorizes the church to provide for recreation and entertainment for anybody, young or old. This is the function of the home and/or the state. We pay taxes to this end.
Truth Magazine IX: 10, pp. 13-14