Can laymen preside over church ordinances?

Discussion in 'Baptist Theology & Bible Study' started by Zenas, Nov 6, 2009.

  1. Zenas

    Zenas
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    I have never seen a layman baptize a person or preside over the Lord's supper. I have read through the Baptist Faith & Message, as well as our church's constitution and by-laws and find nothing that requires a minister of the gospel to administer these ordinances. Likewise, there is nothing that prohibits a layman from doing so. I have often seen ordained ministers come in from outside the church to baptize their relatives, but never a layman.

    So I am asking on this board, "What is the scriptural requirement for an ordained minister of the gospel to administer church ordinances?

    If the consensus is that there is no such requirement, would a lay woman be as qualified as a man to administer these ordinances?
     
  2. Paul3144

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    I've often wondered this about communion; with baptism I do not believe that it matters who does it as long as it is done with the element of water, to a believer, using the Trinitarian Formula, by submersion.
     
  3. Zenas

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    Maybe so, but I have never seen a new Christian ask to be baptized by their father, [uncle, cousin, grandfather, etc.] unless that relative happened to be a minister of the gospel. And I have never seen a woman perform a baptism.
     
  4. Dr. Bob

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    Whoever the local assembly appoints can serve in immersing or distributing elements. Dads, Moms, wierd Uncles - anyone. Even an Elder!!

    Our assembly has asked the Fathers to share the elements with their families. They know/oversee the spiritual condition of minors and we don't have to "police" anything.

    If a person is there without a Father/Husband or male heir, one of the Elders always shares.

    And the same with baptism. Again, to enhance the position of male leadership in the home and church, our congregation has allowed Fathers to baptize their children. Or they ask me (40 years an elder/pastor). Or another elder.

    I do well in baptizing in the hot tub (person is seated and I simply help them backward for immersion. My disease - no nerves from the knees down - makes me a danger to EVERYONE when I'm in the river of in the ocean!! We joke that if I stumble/fall, we might have some end up in Glenrock (a town 22 miles downstream on the Platte!!)
     
  5. ktn4eg

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    While most of the baptisms at my church are performed by one of the elders, we have had fathers baptize their children (These were teenagers who'd professed Christ as their Savior.).

    On one occasion the candidate requested that he be baptized by the man (a layman) who had led him to Christ.
     
  6. Dr. Bob

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    [​IMG]

    Young man being baptized. Had trusted the Lord at small group meeting in a home. On left is the layman who opened his home and led the group and directed that young man to salvation! On right is high school ministries pastor (ordained). What a joy to allow the one who led him to Christ share is this testimonial time (before 400 of the teens peers)

    BTW, about 30-40 teens from the church climbed IN the water with him and the video I saw showed a great response and outpouring of love and support. Truly moving.
     
    #6 Dr. Bob, Nov 7, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2009
  7. Tom Bryant

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    I agree. the authority is with the church and the church can authorize someone to baptize or serve communion.
     
  8. KenH

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    I have seen both done quite commonly. I see no Scriptural problem with it. The church should not have a clergy/laity division within it.
     
  9. Johnv

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    When our pastor is absent on Sundays, an elder or deacon will preside over coommunion. There's nothing in scripture to suggest that only a person in the position of pastorate can officiate over baptism or communion.
     
  10. Zenas

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    Thanks, all, for your responses. The unanimous belief is that presiding over the ordinances need not be done by ordained ministers. However, no one commented on the second question. May women baptize and preside over the Lord's Supper?
     
  11. Dr. Bob

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    Answer to "women allowed to baptize or give communion" from the op -

    I would not allow for it personally. It degrades authority of the male headship and elevates the woman in the eyes of so many who think the one baptizing/serving Lord's Supper is the "leader".

    Brings in the whole issue of usurping authority over the men, which is another can of worms.

    But bottome line answer? IF THE LOCAL CHURCH AUTHORIZES IT, IT CAN BE DONE. I wouldn't like it, nor be a part of a church doing it. But it is a local church decision.
     
  12. Crabtownboy

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    Of course they can. I have seen both.
     
  13. sag38

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    I'm with Bob. I personally would'nt be a part of a church that allowed women to perform in such roles. But, neither would I condemn a church down the road for doing so.
     
  14. annsni

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    The only time that our women have presided over the Lord's Supper is on the women's retreat where there are none of our men around. But to do communion with men, I don't believe that is correct.

    I'm don't think that we've ever had a woman do baptizing but I could be mistaken.
     
  15. Aaron

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    I'm of the opinion that ministers, those who hold office, are the stewards (or dispensers) of the mysteries of God, 1 Cor. 4:1. The Gospel is no less preached through the ordinances than from the pulpit. The observances should be no less reverent.
     
  16. Dr. Bob

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    Salient point - IF you link pastoring (male only) to the ordinances (male only) since the "Gospel is no less preached through the ordinances than from the pulpit", you open up a can of slippery slope (mixed metaphor for humor effect).

    The Gospel is also "no less preached" through our hymns. Sometimes better! It is "no less preached" through our prayers.

    Are we going to restict women from singing? From "pitching" a song (we sing a cappella and I pitch songs, but when not there, we have a lady do it and start the hymn)? From praying?
     
  17. Johnv

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    There's nothing in scripture that disallows it, even if one takes the interpretive position of the pastorate being reserved for married males with children. If it stands to reason that laypersons can administer the ordinances, then it stands to reason that law women can administer the ordinances. That does not mean, however, that churches are required to allow laypersons or woman to administer the ordinances. It's a matter of local autonomy. Each church is allowed to decide form themselves the prerequisites for who can administer ordinances.
     
  18. Gene Hawks

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    Let's cut to the chase. It's in how you view the authority question. In my opinion the authority for baptism and serving the Lord's Supper lies in the local Church not in the Pastor, or deacons, therefore whomever the church chooses may preside.
     
  19. Aaron

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    It appears to me that the administration of the ordinances is an official act. That's all that I mean.
     
  20. Zenas

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    In these parts, the ordinances are administered exclusively by the pastor. The only exception is that occasionally an ordained minister will come in to do a baptism of a close friend or relative. Since we have no women as pastors around here, the question is moot. However, if a pastor should delegate this to a woman in the church, even a very mature and pious woman, he would not be serving as pastor much longer. And if the church sat back and did nothing, it would not remain in the association beyond its next annual meeting.
     
    #20 Zenas, Nov 10, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 10, 2009

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