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Should The Church Feed Members And Visitors At All-Day Meetings?

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Brethren have asked for information on the following question, “Is the church authorized to use the funds in the treasury to provide food for members and visitors gathered for all-day meetings and studies?” 
 
We always remember the instructions of Jesus in
Matthew 28:20, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  Whatever Christ revealed through his Apostles is his law for us in his kingdom today. 
 
The work or mission of the church is revealed in the New Testament.  The church is authorized to act in three areas or endeavors: 
 
1. Evangelism.  The church should proclaim and defend the gospel of Christ.  In
1 Timothy 3:15 the church is called “the pillar and ground of the truth.” 
 
2. Worship & edification.  The church assembles to worship God and to receive spiritual edification.  This is revealed in
Acts 2:42; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 11:17-34; 1 Cor. 14:26, and other passages. 
 
3. Benevolence to needy and destitute saints.  Acts 2:44-45 shows that the church had a treasury from the beginning, and funds were used for the needy among the believers.  In Acts 11:27-30 funds were sent from the church at Antioch to saints in Judea during a drought.  Acts 6:1-6 and 1 Timothy 5:4-16 show that the church ministered to the needs of destitute widows. 
 
Serving food is not evangelism or worship.  The only time we read of the church making provisions for serving tables or giving food is for the sake of widows and other saints who are benevolence cases. 
 
If Christians and also visitors stay together all day for preaching and for worship, of course, there will be a lunch break.  It is the duty of individuals and families to provide for their own needs at such times.  Also, as individuals we can share our funds to buy for everyone if we like because Peter said in
Acts 5:4 that a brother has the power or right to use his own personal money for any good purpose (“after it was sold, was it not in thine own power?”).   That will be an act of hospitality, not benevolence.  
 
1 Corinthians 11:17-34 confirms that the church provides the Lord’s Supper but not common meals.  Paul wrote in verse 34, “And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.”  This makes it clear that it is not the duty of the church to provide ordinary meals, but that is the duty of the home or family.  
 
Funds should not be taken from the church treasury and used to provide food when we gather for gospel meetings and periods of worship.  Providing food is the responsibility of the individual rather than the local church. 

Ron Halbrook 

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