Church 14-26 has no building incurring overheads for weekly rental or for insurance, utilities, maintenance and perhaps mortgage, necessitating bank accounts, a constitution (more law), committees and time. These things drain resources from the gospel, often for a building used for only a few hours each week (whereas a home is in use 24 hours a day). There must be continuing conformity to an increasing number of planning regulations when running and improving a building. Charitable status – upon which rests rate relief and gift aid – will depend on conformity to the government’s view of social relations. Accidents and vandalism raise insurance premiums and are disruptive. Once you have a building, you have regular gatherings of too many Christians for each person to be involved individually as described in 1 Corinthians 14:26. You then have to have liturgy, or at least an order of service. Each faction (social class, race etc) huddles together. If you make more converts, as you intend, they cannot all meet at once in the building, which was its point. The New Testament has plenty to say about where the kingdom of God can be found, and these passages say nothing about eloquent liturgy or great buildings. God quit the building business when he moved out of the Temple into the hearts of believers 2000 years ago (Acts 17:24). No congregation in the New Testament is described as owning a building, and scripture never applies the word for church (ekklesia) to a physical building. Church buildings can easily become subtle idols.
Where a church puts money shows where its heart is (Matthew 6:21). A church 14-26 might support an apostolos working in the same country or another, and might take a collection for the relief of distressed or persecuted Christians whom they do not know personally. An apostolos invited to a church as a spiritual consultant should be supported during his visit. (As an itinerant, he is more easily able to speak words that might cause offence to individuals needing correction.) Although Church 14-26 has no ‘pastor’ expecting to be paid by his congregation, any Elder who it is decided will devote himself to church matters, when he would otherwise work to support himself, should be compensated (1 Timothy 5:17). In places where persecution exists or is imminent, this arrangement should not come to the attention of the authorities. As the congregation as a whole would support him, the decision is for the whole congregation. Anybody in a church 14-26 who is in immediate financial distress should receive help.
Decisions should be talked and prayed over until a broad consensus is reached. If a closely divided issue is put to a vote, significant dissent is likely to occur afterwards.
Requests from non-believers for financial help will in practice be made to an individual believer, who should decide whether to deal with the request privately or discuss it with other members of their 14-26 group. Wisdom is needed to distinguish between a person’s needs and wants. Help people to claim their entitlements from the State, so that church money is not used up needlessly, but encourage those who can to be as financially independent of the State as possible.
The New Testament position is that you are steward on God’s behalf of all of your resources. (You, not the Elders.) This position is both lighter and heavier than the Old Testament principle of tithing a percentage of your income. If you genuinely do not have enough money for something, God will open his storehouse if it is truly for his purposes.