1. "Official" Church buildings are not a Christian concept - they are from Jewish culture and paganism. The first-century Christians did not meet in church buildings - just homes and outside in meeting places.
2. There were no "pastors", "priests", or "ministers" leading the meetings. These developments are from pagan ceremonies and adopted well after the Apostolic era. "Church meetings" were people sitting around discussing the word of God and the events they had seen.
3. There were no "sacred" statues or artifacts (especially not crosses on the wall) in the "sanctuary" during the meetings. These are from those same pagan ceremonies adopted later.
4. The pulpit of today is adapted from the "bishop's chair" with roots in Greco-Roman antiquity. It was first made a place for preaching around 250 A.D.
5. The pew was originally designed to gather the audience together and symbolize the "lethargy and passivity" of the lay person. The audience had little importance compared to the speaker who is talking down to them from a raised platform. Pews were evidently unknown to Christianity for the first 1000 years of Christian history.
6. The order of worship - Prayer, Song Service, Announcements, Offering, Sermon, Benediction - was started by Gregory the Great (540-604 A.D.), the first monk to be made Pope. Nowhere in the Bible will you find an order imposed on a worship meeting. In fact, open discussion and spontaneous reactions were invited. (1 Cor 14:26-33
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two - or at the most three - should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace - as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.
7. The sermon was adopted from the "sophists", wandering Greek orators from the fifth century B.C., and was not adopted into the "Christian" church service until the 4th century A.D. Until that time, the Apostles used an "every member involved" discussion method (Romans 12:6-8
6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; 7 if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; 9 if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
14 I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another.
, 1 Cor 14:26
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.
, and Col 3:16
16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
8. Up until the second century, the church had no official person or people in charge. The unofficial leaders, such as Paul and Peter, were not stationary to a single local group, but moved around to make sure the message was getting out correctly. Of course, there were shepherds in the local communities, but they had no hierarchy, just a common desire to help where they could. Clement of Rome, who died about 100 A.D., was the first writer who spoke of a difference between the leadership and laity of the church, but this concept is nowhere mentioned in the New Testament. This division was mentioned by several men like Tertullian (160-225), Hippolytus (170-236) and Cyprian, but no official distinction was made until the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
9. Dressing up for church was done only by the wealthy to distinguish themselves from the common people. This continued until the late eighteenth century when the Industrial Revolution allowed more people access to enough money to be able to set aside a "special outfit" like the rich. This became a point of conflict until a man named Horace Bushnell published, in 1843, an essay called "Taste and Fashion". This essay claimed that "sophistication and refinement were attributes of God", and the Christians should participate in them.
10. While the Apostles and original Christians often sang hymns when they gathered, music as a point of order in church services did not start until the Edict of Milan in 313 A.D. However, by 367 A.D., all congregational singing was banished to be replaced by trained choirs.
11. Interestingly enough, tithing money is not a Christian practice. Its concept is based on some Old Testament verses, but the modern Christian concept of tithing is based on a complete mis-interpretation of 1 Cor 16:1-4
The Collection for the Lord's People
1 Now about the collection for the Lord's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.
2 On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
3 Then, when I arrive, I will give letters of introduction to the men you approve and send them with your gift to Jerusalem.
4 If it seems advisable for me to go also, they will accompany me.
. In fact, most Bible versions actually add a word to the verses that changes the whole context of Paul's request. He needed to collect a gift for the saints suffering a famine in Jerusalem, so he wanted them to collect something that would help them. Since they were to do no work on the Sabbath, he asked them to do the labor on Sunday. The word "money" does not appear in the Greek
, but most (if not all) churches use this verse with the added word to collect money every Sunday to pay for the church and its services. Since it was to solve the famine problem for the saints in Jerusalem, money would do them no good if there was no food to buy. Christian tithing did not begin until the time of Cyprian of Carthage in the third century A.D., and was used to pay the salary of the clergy.
So, all these "Christian" practices have little or no basis in the Bible.