To this end, I recently read a newsletter from one who proclaims the house church model, one who rails against the programs and events that churches sponsor.  Soup kitchens!  And teen car washes!  And food pantries!  And boys' camping trips!  Horrors!
This seems an odd conclusion to me, though.  Because even so small an organization as a house church must host some events?  They seem inevitable.  Do they not come together to worship?  To study?  To pray?   Do you see my point?  Anytime a group gets together to do anything, it is a program.
And rather than verbally spar with another believer, which I find essentially useless, it seems to me of more benefit to look at Biblical precedents, and draw some conclusions concerning why programs and events are necessary.
John makes a cogent point when he concludes that we are to distance ourselves from the things of the world.  Good conclusion, incredibly difficult to attain.  As an example, I found myself yesterday looking over the new Kindle product, wondering when I would be able to convert my library to a digital format (some re-purchase required).  All the while justifying said outlay with the excuse that I could travel anywhere and still complete my work.
What Christian in recent memory has not looked at a new Bible and considered, even if idly, what it would be like to own it?   When was the last time someone came into your church showing off their new translation?  Which, by the way, came exclusively in custom calfskin leather, especially conditioned to not chaff your soft hands.  If it was more than a couple of months I would be amazed.
My point in all this is that even with best intentions we tend to drift toward a worldly attitude.  It's where we live.  It's the air we breath.  To use a soggier metaphor, it's the water we swim in.  But we don't have to accept it as inevitable.  Back to 1 John.
I find it fascinating that John arrived at this conclusion by way of community.  I am writing to you . . fathers . . young men . . little children . . as an encouragement to maintain your faith in the face of the evil in this world (my paraphrase).  Paul might call this a body of believers, we may think in terms of church, but there is something very Biblical about being together as believers to do things.  And the single most important thing that we do, as community, is worship God.
But it's not everything we do.   Consider that seven men, all Greek, were chosen to coordinate efforts to provide aid to Greek widows that the main body of disciples might continue uninterrupted with their evangelism.  A program!  Not directly related to worship!  And even Jesus noted that we would always have the poor (Matthew 26:9).  He thus emphasized charity.  The men in Acts 6 followed His exhortation by setting up a program for the Greek widows, Stephen foremost among them.
This, of course, has its roots in Old Testament Law;
It doesn't stop there.  Paul managed an effort to bring relief aid to drought stricken Judea, specifically to the believers in Jerusalem. (Acts 11:29-30)  He mentions this relief effort to the churches at Rome and Corinth.  There was a fair amount of planning that went into this program to ensure that the funds were transmitted and used correctly.
Additionally, the Christian community came together to live, to worship, to pray.  They went so far as to relinquish entire estates, giving all property to the church (Acts 4).  How programmatic is that?
Now mind you, believers in the first century expected Jesus to return any second now, and they likely felt they had no need for said property.  What better way to end the world than to go out penniless and living in community with other believers?
But I would go so far as to say that any time we can come together as a body of believers in Jesus Christ, for any event, that is a good thing.   Think about it.  The Bible spends considerable ink informing us how to live in community with fellow believers. (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4-5, 1 Peter 3, etc.)  Community is important, both in Old Testament and New Testament terms.  Especially since the community comes together to worship God!
Also, when these events support a core Christian function, say, a teen car wash to support the widows and orphans?  This would be even better.  What are some events that most obviously meet this metric?  Bible studies.   Prayer groups.   Soup kitchens.   Food pantries.   Job fairs.   Clothes racks.  We could keep on going.
But don't discount the "Mens' Weightlifters for Christ" just because of the name.  When we can be in community for just about any endeavor, as believers, we win.
As we are commanded to put the world away from us, as we are commanded to live together peaceably in community, as we are commanded to practice social justice, as we are commanded to study the Word of God and to live it, what better way for the entire community of believers than to have events and programs that meet these needs?  Again, I would suggest that events are inevitable for any body of believers.
Soli Deo gloria
Jan 20, 2014
-. New American Standard Bible. Anaheim: Foundation, 1997.