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 10 - Principle 6 Not Depending On or Needing Buildings
One of the things you do not find in the Book of Acts is the reliance on church buildings. Yet in almost every Christian circle and denomination, there is an emphasis upon building the church, not that “the body of Christ may be built up”112 but rather the building of an actual structure that we refer to commonly as the church. There is a great benefit at times in having a building where the Lord’s people can meet in and use for the ministry of the Gospel. Yet, when we look at the Book of Acts, we find no visible record that the Church built buildings. Though they met in some physical locations such as Solomon’s Colonnade113 and the hall of Tyrannus for even two years!114 Yet, this was not the common practice of how saints met across the rest of God’s Churches. Even when looking carefully in Church history it is hard to find evidence of a building being used until 300 AD when pagan temples were being converted into churches under the reign of Constantine.
The clear indication is that the early Church met in believers’ homes and other venues such as caves, rivers and the catacombs in Rome, which were underground tunnels. When persecution came, as it did constantly in the record of the Acts of the Apostles, they were able to minimize the effects on the Church by relocating meetings to other secret locations in the city or towns and villages nearby. “The Church was always low-keyed, there were places where there were tens of thousands of believers, like Ephesus, and they had no building at all.”115 Even as Church history progressed and an institutional system that became the Catholic church took the stage, many true believers in sects and groups met in homes. To be more concise, many met in caverns, caves, and beside river banks outside cities. Such were the meeting places of many who were severely opposed for the testimony of Jesus Christ which they held. The forbidding of believers meeting together has been the reality of the Church since its inception.
Therefore, there is a great benefit to realize and even practice the independence of the Church from owning and relying on one specific building. The saints should have flexible meeting places.116 Whether such places change from time to time should be a decision made by each Assembly. ?ere should be openness to seasons of using different structures such as renting an old church building or meeting in an open public venue. Yet, historically it seems the most readily accessible and available option was to meet in homes with smaller gatherings. This type of meeting caters more to disciple-making,117 and helping the needs of individual fellow-believers.
Sadly in our day the chief obligation and goal of a new church plant is to get to a place where they can build or buy a building. We need to reevaluate that desire as times of persecution are and will be increasing.118 May we put our emphasis and goal back to what the early Church did, which was to spread the message of the Gospel and to help the poor. Some will be called to have a building but it seems —especially under persecution—that the Church will thrive and exist well without owning any church buildings.
History is full of wonderful testimonies from the true Church where believers have shared their burdens from the Lord towards the Headship of Jesus Christ. Here is one such testimony from the 1500s: “At another time it was opened in me, ‘that God who made the world did not dwell in temples made with hands.’ This at first seemed strange, because both priests and people used to call their temples or churches, dreadful places, holy ground, and the temples of God. But the Lord showed me clearly, that He did not dwell in these temples which men had commanded and built, but in people’s hearts. Both Stephen and the apostle Paul bore testimony, that He did not dwell in temples made with hands, not even in the one temple of Jerusalem which He had once commanded to be built, since He put an end to the typical dispensation; but that His people were His temple, and He dwelt in them.”119 Buildings can be good places to be recognized as a meeting place of God’s people but the danger is that we consider the place itself sacred apart from whether or not God is present. The presence of God separates what is truly of Him and what is not.120 May it be so that we do not reverence the building but the actual presence of the Lord that comes when we gather as His body.121

112 “To equip His people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.” (Ephesians 4:12). “You also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5).
113 Acts 5:12
114 Acts 19:9-10
115 Brother Andrew
116 Acts 2:46
117 2 Timothy 2:2
118 Revelation 2:10
119 George Fox (1624-1691)
120 Psalm 51:11, Genesis 4:16
121 1 Corinthians 3:16

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Added On 06/03/2014 
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