Renting Sunday-keeping Churches
QUESTION: What is the difference between worshipping with Sunday keepers and renting their sanctuaries on Sabbaths? Is God in the sanctuaries with us on Sabbath and then with Sunday keepers on Sunday?
ANSWER: In answer to your first question, we will say that there is a major difference between the two. The Bible tells us, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24. In light of this statement it is to be understood that the nature or “spirit” of our worship as well as the spiritual food or “truth” we feed on are both very important to God. Therefore, it does not appear to us as though the location or place where both of these very important ingredients are present is the main issue with God.
To emphasize this fact we are led to consider Christ’s statement, “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet” (Matt. 6:6). Surely, a closet may be a place that is filled with materialistic or worldly things, yet we are told we can meet with God even there. However, in her writings, Sr. Ellen G. White, after making reference to this verse mentioned above states, “There is no time or place in which it is inappropriate to offer up a petition to God. There is nothing that can prevent us from lifting up our hearts in the spirit of earnest prayer. In the crowds of the street, in the midst of a business engagement, we may send up a petition to God and plead for divine guidance, as did Nehemiah when he made his request before King Artaxerxes. A closet of communion may be found wherever we are.” SC 99.
As stated above, according to Inspiration, there is “no place” that is “inappropriate” to be used for prayer and “wherever we are” can be a place of “communion” with God, including among “the crowds of the street,” where obviously, or more likely than not, there will be very worldly, sinful, spiritualistic people all around. Therefore, it seems unfair for present-truth believers to conclude that it is wrong to meet in a place where honest but unenlightened children of God may gather to worship their Maker in the best way that they may know how. This really needs consideration since in the Word of God our dear Saviour, Jesus Christ, tells us, “other sheep I have, which are not of this fold, “ (John 10:16), and He assures us that, “where two or three are gathered together in [His] name, there [He is] in the midst of them” (Matt. 18:20).
When Jesus decided to stay at the home of Zacchaeus, the Scriptures tell us that, due to the evil practices of this publican, the Jews were not pleased, “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That He was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.” Luke 19:7. However, this view did not deter the Saviour. History has recorded that Christ stayed with Zacchaeus and that this action on the part of the Master actually helped the publican. In like manner, since our church has been fellowshipping in the location where we presently keep our Sabbath services, more than one person from the very same Sunday-keeping church we worship in, has actually come and participated in our Sabbath services.
While it is true that in the Scriptures God’s people never went into Baal temples to hold worship services, in the Spirit of Prophecy the servant of the Lord discloses the following regarding the renting out of one of our own Adventist churches to Sunday-keepers. Note: “The church is rented to the Presbyterians for services on Sunday. This makes it a little inconvenient for us at times, but as their meetinghouse was destroyed, they feel very grateful for the privilege of using ours.” 3 SM 322-323.
In light of the above statement disclosing E.G. White’s views about one of our church’s dealings with a Presbyterian church, it is our reasoning that if it is okay for us to rent out our church to Sunday-keepers when they are in need of our help, why should it be wrong for us to rent their churches when we may be the ones in need of help? In the former case we are consenting to harboring individuals whose worship practices differ from ours in “spirit and in truth,” yet Inspiration says that this will be all right. There does not appear to us that there is a difference between the former and latter cases since the results are basically the very same; the only difference would be who owns the building, the Sabbath-keepers or the Sunday-keepers. The words of the apostle Paul may be relevant at this point, “What then? Are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; as it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.” Rom. 2:9-10.
History reveals to us that the saints have had to worship in caves and in the mountains. Today, due to circumstances sometimes God’s people have had to rent office spaces to hold services, especially since it is so expensive to build a sanctuary. This has been the personal experience of the members of our congregation. Having had to rent an office space for a number of years, we soon learned that many individuals do not relish worshipping in a business facility since it does not have the appearance and feel of a sanctuary like what they are accustomed to. Then, even though we increased the accommodation of the building facilities as time progressed, it became too small as our congregation grew and we have had to seek out bigger and more conducive facilities to accommodate our growth.
Surely, if most Adventist congregations could avoid it, it is our belief that none would choose to worship in places belonging to unbelievers. But unfortunately when it comes down to practicality that it is not always possible. Furthermore, in our case, once we acquired a sanctuary to worship and present the truth, it has been much easier for us to get people to come out to hear the Three Angels’ Messages. The fact of the matter is, we believe that the important thing is to make both the “spirit” and “the truth” available to as many people as possible.