By Wayne S. Walker
Please consider the following passages and then we shall make some applications.
“For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).
“What? Have ye not houses to eat and drink in? Or despise ye the church of God?…And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation” (1 Corinthians 11:22, 34).
These verses teach that the mission of God’s church concerns the spiritual man and that the body of Christ should not stoop to catering to man’s physical needs.
For years, the denominations have had their “good works” of a social and recreational nature. But churches of Christ were generally known for refraining from and opposing such. However, as the floodgates of apostasy were opened, many congregations claiming to be “of Christ” have more recently begun engaging in similar kinds of activities. We who strive to follow the New Testament pattern do not use church property or funds to sponsor and support parties, dinners, get-togethers, etc. This is a function of the home, not the church.
Along the same lines, I seriously doubt the wisdom of using the church’s facilities (public announcements during worship services, church paper, bulletin board in the building) for issuing invitations to these things, even though they are done purely on a personal basis. It may leave with outsiders the impression that they are church doings, in spite of our protestations to the contrary. And it makes it a little more difficult to explain to them the differences between responsibilities of the church and of the individual.
Of course, each congregation must make its own decisions. And I cannot say that announcing a picnic from the pulpit or in the bulletin is necessarily sinful. But I do believe that it may be poor judgment in light of the above principles, especially with the prevalent social gospel concept of the church. We are to “Give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully,” according to Paul in 1 Timothy 5:14. One way we can accomplish this is to avoid connecting the church to social events in any way.
[Editor’s note: This article was first written back in 1980. I have changed my thinking a little bit since then, though perhaps not as much as it might seem on the surface. The article was a response to a situation that was common in a congregation where I had labored. Nearly every single social event which pertained to any of the members—children’s birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, ladies’ afternoon teas—were included in the announcements even though they involved only a small, specific group and not everyone in the audience was necessarily invited to them.
I have never believed, and did not say in the article, that it is always wrong to announce any social events in the worship services or the church bulletin, especially if they are things to which everyone is invited. However, we do need to be careful. We should always make sure that we include a statement that such are individual activities and not church-sponsored events. And if only a specific group is invited, it is best to handle those kinds of invitations privately so that others will not feel left out. That was really the intended thrust of the article.]
—taken from Torch; Feb., 1980; Vol. XV, No. 2; pp. 20-21