Sisters Serving the Lord’s Supper

Immanuel AdminArticles6 Comments

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At Immanuel, we delight in the truth that women and men are both created in the image of God. Both are equal in value before God, and neither one has an exalted position before Him. Both stand in equal need for the salvation that only Jesus can provide. We rejoice in the different roles that God has given to men and women in home family life as well as the family life of the church.

It has been Immanuel’s practice to have our elders and deacons serve the Lord’s Supper—not because they’re the only ones qualified, but simply as an opportunity for you to regularly see the men whom the church has set apart for service as leaders. We trust this has been a blessing to you. Coming soon on a Sunday morning, however, you’ll see sisters serving at the table, and I’d like to give a brief explanation of what you will be seeing and what you will not be seeing.

What You Will Be Seeing

What you will be seeing is a recognition that our sisters are co-equal partakers of the grace of God and the blessings of the New Covenant. They are joint heirs with Christ, and they lack no privilege before the Lord! (Gal. 3:23-29)

Women have always enjoyed an exalted position within the household of faith: from Abraham’s exemplary wife, Sarah, who is an example of fearing nothing that is frightening; (Gen. 12:10-20; 1 Peter 3:6) to Ruth, who left her family and everything she knew to follow after Yahweh; (Ruth 1:16) to Mary Magdalene, who enjoyed the honor and distinct privilege of being the first human witness to the resurrection of our Lord; (Matt. 28:1) to Tabitha, who was such a blessing to the early church that they pled for her resurrection from the dead; (Acts 9:36-42) and to Phoebe, who was such a model servant in the church at Cenchreae that Paul commended her. (Rom. 16:1)

Jesus’s treatment of women and the Bible’s clear, notable exaltation of their value stands out distinctly and gloriously against the dark stains of human history. And what you’ll be seeing is an intentional, albeit small, acknowledgement of this reality.

What You Will Not Be Seeing

What you will not be seeing is any of these sisters exercising authority or teaching. We stand firmly with Paul when he teaches us in 1 Tim. 2 that men are granted the position of teaching in the church. This does not make men more valuable and women less important. The elders of Immanuel will continue to give the exhortation, invitation, and instruction whenever we take the Lord’s Supper together, and since there is no example or principle in the Scriptures that limits sisters from serving the Lord’s Supper, we think it is a great privilege to have both brothers and sisters help serve the bread and cup together.

We think this message of the value and equality of our sisters is important, and we look forward to them serving us as we proclaim together Christ’s death until He comes. We are all equal partakers in the blessings purchased by His death and the hope of our resurrection from the dead.

So then, let us together, brothers and sisters, continue thanking God for what He has done to save us and sustain us through the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we next gather, come, eat, and drink in remembrance of Him.

6 Comments on “Sisters Serving the Lord’s Supper”

  1. Brethren, this action has puzzled some of your internet readers. Would you be so generous to “briefly” provide further details as to how you understand such a function; and how this work relates to the Shepherds and Servers already ordained to administer the Lord’s Table to the Bride of Christ? Thank you.

    1. Thanks for the question Brian! I hope your family is well. In brief, we do not see a Scriptural connection between the pastoral role and the direct administration of the Lord’s Supper. In Acts 2:46, (which we take as celebrating the Lord’s Supper, see also Acts 20:7) there does not seem to be an indication of who is administering the Lord’s Supper. In 1 Cor. 11:17-34 the Apostle Paul does not single out the elders and deacons when giving instruction regarding the Lord’s Supper but rather addresses the whole church. Now, in all matters of the church’s life together, the elders are to oversee, declare, and equip the saints for the work of ministry. (Acts 20:28; Titus 2:15; Eph. 4:12)

      So with regard to taking the Lord’s Supper together, the elders will oversee, declare, exhort and teach regarding the proper celebration, and both brothers and sisters will serve in the physical handing out of the bread and the cup. We do not see any Scriptural reason to limit the physical handing out of the bread and cup to only elders and deacons.

      I hope that helps!

      -Ben H

  2. We do this at our new church in Portland. When I have served I was really thankful for the opportunity. As each believer walked through and took of the bread and the wine I was seeing each brother and sister walk by and was serving them the blood of Christ shed for them that they may have redemption! I know these people’s stories, I regularly see their lives and it was so sweet to get a chance to help them remember the work of Christ for them! I’m excited for IBC in this!

  3. From the explanation above, I get the feeling the decision is based, in part, on the (questionable) assumption that the distribution and taking of the Lord’s Supper does not serve as a ‘teaching’ function in and of itself. But there are a number of cases when we acknowledge, in practice, the opposite belief . We don’t frisbee wafers out to crowd or go all Catholic and refuse to allow the partaker to even handle the ‘host’. Why? Because that ‘teaches’ something about what’s going on — and can undermine or cloud any previous verbal exhortation given by an elder. If the fact that Paul never specifies that women can’t administer the Lord’s Supper is enough to make this change, you’ve got just as much reason to allow children of believers to take the bread and wine as well. Children of believers partook of the OT Passover, Paul addresses children of believers in Ephesians with the rest of the Church, and there are no explicit prohibitions on allowing children of believers to the table in NT (they are, after all, called “holy” (1 Corinth. 7:14). But — because distributing and taking the Lord’s Supper actually does teach something– good Baptists wouldn’t go there. For the same reasons you shouldn’t go here. Love you brothers, Hank.

    1. Hank,

      I think we simply have a different understanding of the New Covenant, its members, and the partaking of its ordinances. And all of those differences are for a whole other series of blog posts!

      Take care,
      Ben H.

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