10 Things the Church Has That the Bible Doesn’t

Have you observed the average evangelical church of today with Bible in hand? If so, you may have noticed a number of things the church has that the Bible doesn’t.

Buildings. Perhaps most obviously, the early church was not confined to a church building with steeple and pews. No building campaigns, mortgages, custodians, and carpet discussions.

Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. Col 4:15

Large Gatherings. Because these churches met in homes, they could only grow so large. Imagine the experience of a few families sharing their lives together, as opposed to hundreds, even thousands, who don’t even recognize others who attend the same church.

Sunday School. Nothing of the sort is to be found. No programs, classes, or curriculum.

Age Segregation. Speaking of Sunday School, there is no indication that the early church divided into age groups to learn about God. No children’s church, youth groups, or “age-appropriate” learning. Instead, we see church leaders addressing children directly in the worship gathering:

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Eph 6:1

Membership. All followers of Christ are members of the same Body. Beyond that, no “church membership” is distinctly defined in Scripture.

Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 1 Cor 12:27

Service TimesWho’s to say the early church didn’t meet at 6 pm? Or 8am? Or both? And what if they met for 2 hours or more? No verse demands 10:45am-12noon, and no verse suggests multiple services in a day.

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul talked with them, intending to depart on the next day, and he prolonged his speech until midnight. Acts 20:7

Sermons. Read every description of the church’s gathering, and you’ll find no mention of a sermon. Teaching, perhaps. But no sermon. Preaching of the gospel took place outside the church gathering. Teaching of the Word occurred within. And even then, I’m not so sure they followed the practice of a lecture-style presentation where one leader speaks and all others simply listen.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:42

Worship Sets. In fact, shock of all shockers, you will find no worship leader, no worship team, and no rehearsals.

What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 1 Cor 14:26

Offertories. No shiny offering plates passed by ushers while pretty music is played.

And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. Acts 2:45

Altar CallsNo appeal for unbelievers to walk down the aisle to accept Christ. Of course, it may have something to do with the fact that this was a gathering of believers who were being taught the Word, not evangelized.

And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:47

Now, do we scratch it because it’s not in the Bible? Not necessarily.

But we do acknowledge that these are not things the Bible prescribes, suggests, or models. How easy it is to equate our experience or tradition with the Bible’s instruction!

And while these things may or may not be helpful to the practice of our church gathering, they are certainly unhelpful if we can’t let them go.

Once again, it all comes back to “why.” Why do we do the things we do?

If it’s because the Bible says so, we’re always on good ground.

If it’s because it’s the way we’ve always done it, that’s no good reason at all.

But if we recognize that these are man-made ideas which may {or may not} help us to accomplish God-given instruction well, then that’s something to consider.

And to keep considering. And questioning. And evaluating.

For in the end, these ten things are still things the church has that the Bible doesn’t.

 [image credit: unsplash.com]


36 thoughts on “10 Things the Church Has That the Bible Doesn’t

  1. “And to keep considering. And questioning. And evaluating.” I so agree with you. When our man-made traditions trump the ways and intents of God, we need to backtrack. It’s easy to get caught up in “that’s the way we’ve always done it” mentality, but that doesn’t make it right. Thanks for encouraging us to continue to reevaluate and change as needed to be more like our Lord.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. They didn’t have pants, either. Is every modern thing inherently bad? Of course, I’m just joking with you, it’s what’s in the heart that matters. God can with with any medium we throw at him. I would like to point out that Jesus and the apostles reached people in the language of the day, their native tongue, something they could easily understand, so if today that includes video, lights, and big music, who’s to say God can’t work through that? Video is the media/language of the day.

    You are right in a huge respect though, we should be loving, being the Church, right where we are, no building or program required. I get that. Peace.

    Like

    1. Good thoughts. My biggest concern is that we get so caught up in man-made methods, that we miss God’s design laid out for us in Scripture. Especially when it comes to the church. It seems there are a number of passages regarding the church to which the organized church today doesn’t pay any attention. Yet, they have a whole list of other things they’re doing, or ways they’re functioning, that they’ve come up with entirely on their own.
      Anyway, thanks as always for the feedback.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Lets just say.. it always has been the heart since the beginning or creation. When God gave the commandments for the Israelites to follow.. He didn’t just want them to obey and say do this and don’t do that. The purpose of the commandments and customs were because we’re really really evil. We like the flesh we enjoy it, we want things that are so far away from God. A persons heart it was just not a new testament thing. Or a salvation. God wanted to worship Him with ALL our hearts with ALL our mind with ALL our strength. I am not trying to be down with the new things today in life. But the gospel is simple. God hasn’t change at all. If we need a better sounding music a better looking video more lights more fancy things.. That’s telling me that we’re trying to lure people in with a desire for the gospel with things. Which is not. The more we add to the word of God the more its for us to please ourselves.. and the further we go into our view of worship or how to do things. There is only one word and truth makes anybody uncomfortable. I love how Paul writes his letter. He says pretty much: “my speech was not extravagant. I didn’t come to bring you with flare or with words. But came with weeping, in persecution,in the Spirit and in power.He didn’t want to add anything to the gospel that has not been revealed to Him or lived it.” Thats all. That how the gospel is preached. Power of the Holy Spirit and filled by the Spirit!

      Like I said I am not saying that those things are bad. People shouldn’t hold a festival, or make a church gathering and.. then will add the gospel. I’ve seen people and experienced how in the little they had.. physically ,, they had more spiritually.. and that’s the church

      The simplicity of the church.

      And i agree with you Lydia. To me.. the church reflects a business.

      Like

      1. Thanks for sharing! I’m not saying I’m against these 10 things either. Just wondering if the church of today has, consciously or unconsciously, drifted from God’s design, that’s all. Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts.

        Like

        1. Definitely not the Acts Church. I am not saying in because of our modern ways. But spiritual and how things were.

          Right we base our life on material things. Just an example. when the sound doesn’t work for a certain part of the song or the sermon. Sometimes people don’t like that, or what do we do now. sometimes it creates a chaos. We base our worship to much on things to make it to our liking. And its sad as i hear people today, that they don’t go to a certain church because they don’t have the music they like or the tempo is not there. And a lot of churches, “Christian” organization use material means to attract people to Christ.

          The universe sings praises to God and stars declare His glory.

          Like

  3. I just thought about this. Yes, that’s right. We need the Bible as our guide but these activities that the Church offers, we also need them to grow our faith.

    Like

    1. But do we? That is the question! Maybe we do, but maybe we don’t. And it seems we don’t often consider the alternative. I would say, We need the Bible and the methods it gives to grow our faith. Outside of that, I would be pretty wary. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Lydia, I really enjoyed the thoughtfulness behind this post and your desire always to bring everything back to Scripture. You make some good points here.

    Something that has always intrigued me (and your post made me think of this!) is things that the church DOESN’T do that are in Scripture. For example (and I’m coming from a very Conservative background) the “lifting up of holy hands” or “greeting one another with a holy kiss.” (I know that some denominations do practice these things, but many have abandoned them). Sometimes, I believe, that if the true church (if I) walked more “in step with the Spirit,” we might see more of these practices coming out–in sincerity and truth, not merely from form or because they are what a particular denomination “does.” Maybe someday you could write a blog post about that, if the Lord leads you!! 🙂

    What an unspeakable gift that we have the Holy Spirit as our Guide, and that He leads us into all truth–the truth of our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

    The Lord bless you, Lydia; I’m glad that the Lord led me to this post! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great to consider these things. I go to a big church and must say that I notice we need to work harder than we are to pursue each other in love, as Christ does. It saddens me to see people alone, unnoticed…where my kids don’t take all my attention, I move to pursue. But I am sure there must be people who leave having been unnoticed (I had that happen to me in the beginning): horrible thought. I’d much prefer a smaller church, but this is the one I’ve felt called to attend and have seen God opening doors to serve (Mommies group and refugees).

    The children being in the service: I’d love more of that. I’d love for us to be more of a family…that’s what the church sounds like to me in the Bible. When I was little my parents pastored a little church that started out as a house church: I loved going there…it felt like home.

    Worship: I loved reading about God setting aside a whole tribe for worship (the Levites)…this says to me that God places great value on our worship of Him. I’m not fussed how we do it…Biblically I think it’s a heart matter: are we there to worship God or just sing.

    Loved reading the info you gathered from Scripture. Thank you for encouraging us to question things.

    Like

  6. I think whatever helps us get closer and further along in our faith journey is a okay with me. When it starts to deviate from that journey is when I grow concerned. Great things to consider today. Thank you for linking up to Cisneros Cafe for Open Mic Monday. Have a blessed week, Lydia. And keep questioning, considering, and evaluating!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It can be so easy to say that we shouldn’t do it because it isn’t in the Bible, but the thing is God is still speaking, and acting in the same ways, so we need to really be in communication with Him and act accordingly. Thanks for the reflection and for sharing it on the Cozy Reading Spot

    Like

  8. What an intriguing post, Lydia! “Once again, it all comes back to “why.” Why do we do the things we do? If it’s because the Bible says so, we’re always on good ground. If it’s because it’s the way we’ve always done it, that’s no good reason at all.” “The way we’ve always done it” can surely become an idol we need to lay down or a comfort zone from which we need to be discomforted. But over all of this is a filter I like to use: what would God think about this thing or that practice? Thank you for sharing your words and heart…stopping by from Coffee & Conversation!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. By attending “church” in a building, I have met many wonderful people, and long time friends. As believers grew in numbers – – a house church was not appropriate, and a place and building was needed. Today, although I do believe in home cell groups, it is the building were we congregate together to learn, to be encouraged, to agree together in prayer, and to educate our children in the ways of God extra from our family devotions. I doubt if the home churches in the Bible had drums and a keyboard, and an alter, but they are nice at a church building. I enjoyed your take on the Bible church and thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.

    Like

    1. Man-made ideas aren’t always biblical even if they help us to accomplish biblical purposes. That’s why I question the items in this list! Not saying I disagree with them all. Not saying I agree with them either!

      Like

  10. I liked your post and I’m all for following the Bible. I’ve never visited a home church, but I can see why many families attend them. Of course, no church is perfect. This is good to keep us thinking on how we should do what the Bible teaches and not just follow traditions. Thanks for sharing at Together on Tuesdays.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. One of the things that has always bothered me about “religion” and, quite frankly, kept me away from it is the lavishness of it all. It has alway seemed to me that the vast sums of money it takes to build and maintain some of these buildings would be better spent elsewhere. Sure a decked out building with beautiful art and architecture help can bring people to the Lord. However, it seems to me that a better way to bring people to the Lord is by foregoing the window dressing and showing them God’s love by spending that money doing what scripture tells us to by feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, protecting the weak and ill, and simply loving one another. It always seems to come back, for me, to the fact that religion is man-made while God is not.

    Like

    1. Thanks for sharing your perspective. I can understand and perhaps agree with your comments on the “church” as a building. But even in the midst of these questions that run through my mind, I pray my concerns don’t color my love for the “church” as a people.
      By the way, you may be interested in this article I wrote awhile back: https://journeyoftheword.com/2014/10/02/religion-vs-relationship/. Interestingly enough, it addresses the concept of “religion” and its relation to “feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, protecting the weak and ill, and simply loving one another.” Hope it’s helpful to you. Thanks for stopping by.

      Like

  12. Thanks for encouraging readers to search the Scriptures and examine why we follow traditions. I would like to point out that there were some large gathering in the New Testament. There were several occasions the thousands were added to the number of believers after a single sermon! WOW! Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup.

    Like

    1. Great point! I have a feeling that those thousands soon met in various homes, but, you’re right, we don’t know exactly how they handled the large crowds. And it does seem that they met in the outdoors at times, perhaps due to the size of their group. Thanks for the great observation!

      Like

  13. Great post, Lydia! I like how you said all of this is okay, as long as there is Biblical sound doctrine being taught and that remains the focus. The problem is the churches that are doing all of these things because it is cool or because they have always done it this way, and there is no Bible or scripture being taught or spoken behind this. Thanks for sharing with #SocialButterflySunday! Hope to see you link up again this week 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. “All things are lawful, but not all things are helpful. ” and “Let all things be done to edify.” I think that is the take-away message of the primary article, and that principle can’t be bettered. If something is helpful (regardless of any supposed demand for ‘Scriptural warrant’), then use it. If it isn’t, then (regardless of tradition, even if based in Scripture) then drop it. God says so Himself through Paul.

    Like

    1. Right, so my question would be, “Can a man-made idea which is not commanded, instructed, or suggested in Scripture, ever be truly helpful or edifying?” Personally, I think the answer is “yes.” But I do think we easily accept anything and everything as helpful and edifying when it’s really not.
      And I do believe that the more we follow God’s design laid out in Scripture, the closer we’ll be to following His ways which are so much better than ours.
      Thanks for your input.

      Like

  15. We have been talking about this same subject a lot at church lately! We home church and have been for 8 years! Thank you for pointing us back to the word of God and not being legalistic in your approach. You have given much to pray about. Visiting today from intentional Tuesday! God Bless:)

    Liked by 1 person

  16. We also get our picture of the early church from sources describing multiple city churches. Who knows how many things occurred in one city, or one house within a city, that did not occur in others. I understand your point, though. How does what we do in our neighbourhood church follow the mandate of teaching and being taught, so that we would be prepared to fulfill the great commission.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. There are a lot of things we do as “church” that were never done in the Bible. Somethings are understandable because we live in a different time, but others I think are very harmful. The idea that church is a building and some place we go to once a week is possibly one of the most harmful. Instead of the church being the body of Christ and living day to day as followers of Christ, we’ve raised generations of Christians who think church is a building you go to. 😦 Very sad.

    Very good post, by the way! 🙂 I think it’s good for Christians to be reminded to look at the way disciples lived in the Bible and to question the “way things are” today.

    Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s