LAY BY IN STORE

Garden City, Michigan church of Christ Bulletin

 

Christians in the first century had duties as individuals and functioned collectively as well (1 Thessalonians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Galatians 1:1).  Paul recognized the necessity of being a part of such a “collective” shortly after his conversion and “assayed to join himself to the disciples” in Jerusalem (Acts 9:26).  These congregations were organized, each having its own elders and deacons (Philippians 1:1; Acts 14:23).  They were a “company” of saints that worked and worshipped together as one.  Each congregation was an organized entity.

These early saints assembled together (Hebrews 10:25) and partook of the Lord’s Supper together (Acts 20:7). They sang together (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16).  As an organized entity, they supported the preaching of the Gospel (Philippians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 11:8; 1 Corinthians 9:1-14), supported the elders (1 Timothy 5:17-18), and provided benevolence for needy saints (1 Corinthians 16:1; 1 Timothy 5:3). Local churches today can safely follow these examples and commands.

All of the tasks God has given saints to do collectively necessitate some form of financing.  The assembling demands a place in which to meet.  Vessels and elements for the Lord’s Supper have to be provided.  Song books are expedients that aid singing.  Money must be provided for the supporting of preachers, elders, and needy saints.  The need for funds is constant.  The New Testament is quite clear as to how the early church raised money.  The only way today’s congregations can be safe is to follow their lead.

There is a necessary inference that the congregations of the apostolic era had a source, a fund common to each unit, with which each financed its work. The propriety of having a “store-house” (“treasury,” if you will) is established in the book of Acts.  And all that believed were together, and had all things common” (Acts 2:44).  They sold their possessions and delivered the proceeds to the Apostles for distribution (Acts 4:34-35).  Paul instructed the Corinthians to “lay by in store” on the first day of the week, according to their prosperity, for the benefit of the poor saints of Judea (1 Corinthians 16:1-2).  These scriptures show how funds were raised for benevolence.  Nothing is said about how finds were raised for other activities, but can anyone dispute that the same method was used?  Members of the church rightfully look down on the denominations that raise money by various merchandising methods.  The New Testament never mentions a congregation’s selling anything to raise money.  It is significant that in Acts, the members themselves each sold their possessions.  It was the proceeds and not the goods that were laid at the apostles’ feet.  Worldly methods should not be used to support the Kingdom of Heaven.

Denominations raise funds by having rummage sales, selling peanut brittle, holding raffles, and even running businesses.  Sadly these practices have spread to some churches of Christ.  A congregation in Central Texas advertised that it had accepted “a gift of 50 bales of Sudan hay” and was selling it for the “low-price” of “$25.00 per bale.”  One congregation operates a day care center for which it charges a fee.

Where is the Scripture that authorized the church to operate a business?