4th Commandment and renting a facility

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Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
I presume that a large number of those on this board who consider themselves "Sabbatarians" refrain from eating out on the Lord's Day. One reason for this is that we do not want to cause others to have to work on the Lord's Day. Instead we believe all people should obey the 4th commandment and not only rest from their labors, but also to be taken up with both public on private worship on the Sabbath.

Now if this is true, what of those employees who work at facilities where Reformed congregations meet on the Lord's Day? For example, if a congregation rents a meeting room in a hotel, are not hotel employees having to work? If a congregation rents a private facility, aren't there employees who have to work to open, set-up, and lock-up the facility? How are we to best apply the 4th commandment in these situations?
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Are not the hotels already open and providing a necessary work, even a moral one at times?

For the second scenario, can arrangements be made to obtain the key early and have members of the church handle the set up of the facility?
 
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Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Are not the hotels already open and providing a necessary work, even a moral one at times?

Yes they are already open, but by this reasoning, it would be acceptable to eat out on the Lord's Day as well. A better point might be that the hotel is providing a work of mercy/necessity. Would most folks agree this is true with a hotel and all workers?
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
We rent and I believe our set up is done on Saturday.

This would be ideal, but I know of a reformed church that meets in a facility that has an attendant come in just for the time frame that the church meets. The building is closed on Sunday to the normal public but that worker sits at a front desk during the entire meeting time and then I believe she locks up the facility. What of a situation like this?

I am not saying that churches in these situation are wrong. I hope no one takes my post personally. I do not mean any disrespect at all. I am more just thinking aloud and curious to hear other's thoughts.
 

Jerusalem Blade

Puritan Board Professor
Andrew, I know of many congregations which meet on Sundays at public schools, and there is a guard or representative from the school there to keep an eye on things. Another congregation meets at a synagogue, and a person from the synagogue is there to keep an eye on things. All these facilities are rented. I see no wrong in this.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I know of a reformed church that meets in a facility that has an attendant come in just for the time frame that the church meets. The building is closed on Sunday to the normal public but that worker sits at a front desk during the entire meeting time and then I believe she locks up the facility. What of a situation like this?

If a church owns its own building, there's usually still someone who unlocks/locks doors and generally watches over the facility. In larger congregations, this may be an employee (say, a church sexton) who does these things as part of a paid job. It's a necessary work, is it not? So why would it become improper if the facility is rented rather than owned? There may indeed be reasons why it might be, but the burden of proof requires showing why a rented facility changes the situation.
 

markkoller

Puritan Board Freshman
I have definitely struggled with using a hotel meeting room for worship on the Lord's Day. It is certainly not ideal, but I think within the realm of being acceptable. I feel that hotels or inns are a legitimate ministry of mercy on the Lord's Day. Granted, most do not observe the 4th commandment or show care or concern for their employees, but the principle of providing a place for travelers on the Lord's Day is sound. In an ideal society that loved the Lord and observed His commandments, a hotel could skip cleaning rooms or requiring extra workers on the Lord's Day. Practically speaking, most businesses that fall into the mercy ministry category (Electric company, wrecker services, gas station, hospital, police station, fire station, hotel, etc.) could operate with skeleton crews that rotate working on the Lord's Day. The fact that most don't does not negate the reality that these services need to be in place for use on the Lord's Day.

Our church plant uses a hotel meeting room, which seems acceptable to me in principle. I believe the hotel ought to be there to provide a place for people to lodge, we are simply using one of their meeting rooms to worship God. (I think it would be a wonderful thing if all businesses provided space for churches to meet.) In addition, it is helpful that our Reformed Presbyterian families are in the hotel and interacting with the employees who are working. Perhaps that interaction will be used for the Kingdom of God? I don't believe that our presence is causing extra employees to work. Ironically, most of the time the hotel we use is fairly deserted on the Lord's Day. I have only seen three or four employees there at any given time. I might also add that I have a fairly sensitive view of the Lord's Day, so if I thought that our practice was displeasing to God we would not be meeting in the hotel. I think I am comfortable with saying it is acceptable, but not ideal. Certainly we hope to be in a more permanent facility in the near future.

There is a difference between a hotel and a restaurant. I know people might think that is splitting hairs, but a restaurant is not a ministry of mercy (unless they are feeding the poor or homeless).

I also am aware of churches who use public school buildings which require the presence of an employee on the Lord's Day. For my way of thinking, this is a little harder to justify. I don't know how to work through this one, so I hope this thread will shed some light on how to work through using a public building that is not a work of mercy.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
Thanks Pastor Mark for your well thought out reply. I think you summarize the issue well when you say it is "acceptable but not ideal". I also wholeheartedly agree that this isn't the same thing as frequenting a restaurant. For those reasons, my family and I like to refrain from restaurants on the Lord's Day.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I think to some degree all places where people eat and sleep could be works of mercy and necessity since people often must travel due to medical reasons or vital, essential reasons,and at least one hotel and restaurant in a small town would be helpful to those folks.

We use missionary guest-houses when staying in some foreign cities and even these stay open on Sundays (though the way of payment is flexible such that, if one held convictions, they could wait for another day to pay). I have never felt guilty nor convicted to sleep on the street when undergoing needed travel on Sunday.
 

JoannaV

Puritan Board Sophomore
I also am aware of churches who use public school buildings which require the presence of an employee on the Lord's Day.

If the employee was able to hear the church service that would seem almost a positive. Whereas a restaurant employee does not generally hear much of the Word whilst working, nor even get to eat!

In my life I have worshipped in quite a few different rented spaces. None seemed to require much extra work from anybody. In some cases the church had the key, in other cases a representative of the building would drop by to open and shut the building, which doesn't exactly take that much time! And doesn't seem to be an activity that would hinder the employee from attending worship.
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
When I was a member in the PCA we met at a Christian High School. We were responsible for the set up and tear down. We left it as we found it if not better. I appreciate Mark's Comments also.
 

Jeffriesw

Puritan Board Freshman
I presume that a large number of those on this board who consider themselves "Sabbatarians" refrain from eating out on the Lord's Day. One reason for this is that we do not want to cause others to have to work on the Lord's Day. Instead we believe all people should obey the 4th commandment and not only rest from their labors, but also to be taken up with both public on private worship on the Sabbath.

Now if this is true, what of those employees who work at facilities where Reformed congregations meet on the Lord's Day? For example, if a congregation rents a meeting room in a hotel, are not hotel employees having to work? If a congregation rents a private facility, aren't there employees who have to work to open, set-up, and lock-up the facility? How are we to best apply the 4th commandment in these situations?

Thank you for bringing this topic up, my wife and I have been trying to work through the 4th commandment lately and have been talking about some of these type of topics.
 

Mindaboo

Puritan Board Graduate
Our church rented a Seventh Day Adventist church for a few years. I'm not sure what we were expected to do in that facility. After that we rented space in a school building where we had to set up and tear down the chairs and tables, and this was always done on a Sunday. The school required us to pay for a janitor to be there to unlock/lock up and do general clean up before leaving that day. Most, if not all, of the janitors sat in our worship services. I never really thought about this topic. It seemed like a work of necessity to me, because we couldn't find a location other than a school building that the congregation could afford. If we didn't pay that money we wouldn't have been able to worship. Andrew, stop making me think so much. :D
 

RPEphesian

Puritan Board Junior
I presume that a large number of those on this board who consider themselves "Sabbatarians" refrain from eating out on the Lord's Day. One reason for this is that we do not want to cause others to have to work on the Lord's Day. Instead we believe all people should obey the 4th commandment and not only rest from their labors, but also to be taken up with both public on private worship on the Sabbath.

Now if this is true, what of those employees who work at facilities where Reformed congregations meet on the Lord's Day? For example, if a congregation rents a meeting room in a hotel, are not hotel employees having to work? If a congregation rents a private facility, aren't there employees who have to work to open, set-up, and lock-up the facility? How are we to best apply the 4th commandment in these situations?

Our church is in that situation. I don't know what the rent managers do in our case. I would leave it up to them to decide what they should do according to God's Word. Making Saturday arrangements isn't out of the question. With our church size and situation, it would be too uncomfortable and taxing to meet in someone's home. Having our own building is far out of the option. If Saturday arrangements can't be made, I would just look at it as a work of necessity, mercy or piety. The rent facilitators have done a good service by providing a meeting place for a church.

Donkeys fall into pits. Wish we could stop it.
 

Andres

Puritan Board Doctor
The school required us to pay for a janitor to be there to unlock/lock up and do general clean up before leaving that day. Most, if not all, of the janitors sat in our worship services.

That's great they sat in on your services! I guess this would be the ideal situation for any employees there!
 

Scottish Lass

Puritan Board Doctor
I know of a reformed church that meets in a facility that has an attendant come in just for the time frame that the church meets. The building is closed on Sunday to the normal public but that worker sits at a front desk during the entire meeting time and then I believe she locks up the facility. What of a situation like this?

If a church owns its own building, there's usually still someone who unlocks/locks doors and generally watches over the facility. In larger congregations, this may be an employee (say, a church sexton) who does these things as part of a paid job. It's a necessary work, is it not? So why would it become improper if the facility is rented rather than owned? There may indeed be reasons why it might be, but the burden of proof requires showing why a rented facility changes the situation.
Yes, but our (unpaid) sexton is a member of our church. He is not hindered from worship by arriving early to unlock, adjust the HVAC, etc. A non-member arriving to supervise at a rented facility may well be hindered from attending worship.
 

Reformed Reaction

Puritan Board Freshman
Perhaps this is a foolish question but what is the Biblical basis for Sabbatarianism with regards to us? Does not Colossians 2:14-16 show that it has been done away?

I believe this is on par with not eating pork, keeping the Jewish Sabbath instead of the Lord's day, and a commitment to the tithe vs. giving not of necessity.

I see nothing wrong with keeping these per se, but I also see no Biblical dictate.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
Good questions on how to apply God's Law in life. See comments.
I presume that a large number of those on this board who consider themselves "Sabbatarians"
Someone who tries to obey God's 4th commandment is no more limited to that than someone who tries to keep the 10th commandment is a "covetarian." The Law of God is whole and unbroken, one part violated, it is all violated.

refrain from eating out on the Lord's Day.
Exodus 20 and the re-telling in Deuteronomy clearly forbid others to work for our convenience, including the alien. It took me awhile to understand, or accept this, but anyone keeping the fourth commandment will, ordinarily, avoid this because it hinders others, even unbelievers from obeying God.

One reason for this is that we do not want to cause others to have to work on the Lord's Day. Instead we believe all people should obey the 4th commandment and not only rest from their labors, but also to be taken up with both public on private worship on the Sabbath. Yes, it is "setting apart" the day and ceasing from the ordinary work and play of the rest of the week in order to prioritize worship of God all day, individual, family and corporate.

Now if this is true, what of those employees who work at facilities where Reformed congregations meet on the Lord's Day? For example, if a congregation rents a meeting room in a hotel, are not hotel employees having to work? If a congregation rents a private facility, aren't there employees who have to work to open, set-up, and lock-up the facility? How are we to best apply the 4th commandment in these situations?

One could imagine various scenarios.

Some that likely would not be a violation-
If the church is setting up and taking down chairs and locking up, I think that is necessity exception (for worship), if that is one example you are thinking of.

Having corporate worship upstairs in a mall with cleaning personnel, doorkeepers, security working probably would. The church could have worship on say Saturday night and avoid this.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
A better point might be that the hotel is providing a work of mercy/necessity. Would most folks agree this is true with a hotel and all workers?

Trying to apply the biblical principles:

A hospital would be open on the sabbath, and necessarily so. Probably not an outpatient clinic, not a doctor's office, etc.
Although the hospital is open on the sabbath, it is not a carte blanche exception from remembering the sabbath day to keep it holy, not doing any work, etc.
The truth is, many procedures are not necessary to be scheduled on Sunday. Doctors and nurses still try to get weekend off and staffs are lighter on weekends because of it.
Remember, the mercy or necessity exception is that the work must be done at that time or there were would be consequences that amount to more than personal inconvenience, even loss of income or even a job.

Also, even Christians working on the sabbath under necessity, e.g. a doctor on call for emergency surgery, how do they worship? Do they get a lifetime exemption from corporate worship? It gets pretty difficult for even a doctor to live their life that way.
Instead, they should, by faith seek to minimize the pattern, somehow, some way.
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
The church could have worship on say Saturday night and avoid this.

A Bible-believing church could not. It is the Lord's day that is to be kept as a day of worship.

If that were the only service, I agree.

The situation I'm thinking of would be there would still be a Lord's Day service elsewhere. I actually encountered a church that had a Saturday evening service and a Lord's Day morning one (the former being geared toward a youth demographic- that might be a whole other discussion.:)
 
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py3ak

Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
If the "elsewhere" accommodates all the congregation, there's no need for a Saturday evening service; if it doesn't, one is still in the same boat.
 

Ask Mr. Religion

Flatly Unflappable
Yes they are already open, but by this reasoning, it would be acceptable to eat out on the Lord's Day as well.
Actually my point was that by virtue of providing a necessary work the hotel, that is it is open and doing just that, the hotel (staff) is not inconvenienced as it would be if it was required to actually open up just to accommodate your services. I was not arguing that since a business is open then all is well. ;)
 

PuritanCovenanter

The Joyful Curmudgeon
Staff member
Perhaps this is a foolish question but what is the Biblical basis for Sabbatarianism with regards to us? Does not Colossians 2:14-16 show that it has been done away?

I believe this is on par with not eating pork, keeping the Jewish Sabbath instead of the Lord's day, and a commitment to the tithe vs. giving not of necessity.

I see nothing wrong with keeping these per se, but I also see no Biblical dictate.

Jon,
This might be of some help concerning the passage you mention.
Some Reformed Baptists on the Sabbath Concerning Colossians and Hebrews - Blogs - The PuritanBoard
 

Reformed Reaction

Puritan Board Freshman
Perhaps this is a foolish question but what is the Biblical basis for Sabbatarianism with regards to us? Does not Colossians 2:14-16 show that it has been done away?

I believe this is on par with not eating pork, keeping the Jewish Sabbath instead of the Lord's day, and a commitment to the tithe vs. giving not of necessity.

I see nothing wrong with keeping these per se, but I also see no Biblical dictate.

Jon,
This might be of some help concerning the passage you mention.
Some Reformed Baptists on the Sabbath Concerning Colossians and Hebrews - Blogs - The PuritanBoard

Thank you for the references, I appreciate it.

If I knew how to mark a post as helpful, I would!
 

Berean

Puritanboard Commissioner
If I knew how to mark a post as helpful, I would!

Jon, you'll get a little green thumb after about 15 posts.
ha_thumbsup.gif
Click that when the time comes. ;)
 

Scott1

Puritanboard Commissioner
If the "elsewhere" accommodates all the congregation, there's no need for a Saturday evening service; if it doesn't, one is still in the same boat.

Not trying to debate the validity of a Saturday substitute for Sunday.
As to the original post, to be clear,

If a church has a Saturday evening worship service in a mall, and a Sunday one in a church, it doesn't seem that would violate the precepts of the 4th Commandment.:)
 

Berean

Puritanboard Commissioner
That's probably what makes all the difference, Josh. It what separates you from the rest of the herd here.
ha_thumbsup.gif
 
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