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Yes a lay person can lead a communion service. The reason for this involves the larger issue of the relationship between what is called the clergy and laity in the church. It may surprise some people that clergy and laity are not mentioned in the Bible and consequently there is no difference between clergy and laity from a biblical point of view. The idea that there is a special class of Christian called "the clergy" who can do special religious things like take communion or perform baptism, or marry couples etc, and there are lay persons who cannot do any of these things is just a human invention. All Christians are members of a body called the church and we all have different functions to perform based on our gifts and talents, but there is no clergy and laity. We all are the same before Christ. So as far as leading a communion service is concerned; as long as you love the Lord Jesus Christ and you do this in memory of him, then even the humblest and lowest of Christians is allowed to lead. Regards Philip
Communion is for all believers, in remembrance of Christ, proclaiming the Lord's death until he comes. We are all priests (I Pet 2:5-9) under Jesus, the High Priest (Heb 5:9-10). "One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers". (Matt 23:8-12). There is no scripture restricting that the giving of communion only be by certain people, such as clergy or licensed Pastors. The only rules scripture gives about communion is that it be done in remembrance of Christ (I Cor 11:24), and that we do not personally take it in an unworthy manner (I Cor 11:27). There is nothing about needing to hold a specific office in the church, have a particular spiritual gift, have a license, or have a position of authority. Furthermore, there is nothing in scripture that says being the one to coordinate communion or pass the elements out is a sign of authority or makes the person superior to those who receive it. In Acts 2:42 we see the church meeting daily and taking communion - many of these meetings were house meetings, and there is no reason to suppose that there had to be an elder or Apostle at each meeting of the church. "Where two or three or more" are gathered in Christ's name, that is a meeting of the church. Everyone, every believer, has something to contribute for the edification of the church (I Cor 14:26, Eph 4:11-12, I Cor 12:12-31). Some denominations only allow certain people, like Pastors or Priests, to give communion. The reasoning is usually either that giving communion is a position of authority, or that the 'lay people' have not been vetted properly and might have wrong motives or unconfessed sins. In Phil 1:15-18 Paul points out that it is not up to us to worry about motive, but whether out of "false motive or true", the important thing is to proclaim the Messiah. He does -not- say "Stop those people from preaching, they are incorrectly taking authority" or "Don't let them teach about Jesus without a background check!" Additionally, we are to reject false teachings of extra-biblical restrictions (I Tim 4:3-10). "For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." How much more should we receive Communion with thanksgiving, without adding false restrictions, for the death of Christ is core to the Christian faith! Additional point: The Jewish Passover was a type pointing to the covenant with Christ. The Passover ceremony was held in homes, not in the temple. There was no requirement that a priest be present to offer the elements. While Christians do not have to keep all the rituals of the Passover, since the true Passover lamb is Christ, it is of interest that the Passover was kept by 'households'. The church is one household, under the headship of Christ, and the blood of one lamb (Christ) suffices for all in that household.
I have been blessed to be able to learn and to pass on the Biblical teaching of the Lord's Supper to others while on the mission field. It is an incredible feeling to reveal the true meaning of it to those who are believers but have never had the chance to learn what it means. One of the things in the teaching of communion is: who can take it, and who can serve it. Many places I have seen while teaching church planters, is that main church leadership- pastors- did everything: baptize, communion, prayer- everything in the church, and did not allow any other believers to participate in leadership of the church. The question of who can take it- any baptized believer can take the bread and the cup. 1 Corinthians 11:26- "For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." Baptized believers have publicly proclaimed Jesus' death until he comes, therefore are able to take communion. Those who have not proclaimed- non-believers, should not take it. Who can serve it- the same applies- those who are baptized believers can serve communion. Those who have proclaimed and continue to proclaim Jesus' death until he comes. This only excludes those who have not and do not proclaim Jesus- non-believers, from taking and serving it. In conclusion, a lay person is simply in a different position of leadership within the church. It is the mistake of church leadership to exclude baptized believers from serving or leading within the church. Rather, it is the responsibility of church leadership to build up leaders, allowing them to serve and lead in certain areas, and it takes the burden off the main leadership from doing all the tasks within the church.
I will respond to this question in two parts. First, as regards whether a lay person can lead or preside over the Communion service, my answer is a big Yes! However, I believe that the decision as to who leads a Communion should be left to each church assembly or church tradition to make. If the church by its rules or tradition designates certain persons to preside over the Table, my view is that believers who belong to that tradition should respect that arrangement in honor of the Lord. The fact that the Bible does not prescribe any specific rule on this matter is not a basis for disputing godly church traditions. In my Evangelical tradition, only licensed ministers can serve the Lord's Table. I have been serving in my church as an elder for more than 20 years including 5 years as a pastor before I was ordained last month. Up till then, I was not permitted to preside over the Table but only to serve the elements. I respected the tradition even though there was no scriptural basis for the restriction. I am aware that other traditions permit church elders to preside over the Table and others are even more liberal in that any believer can preside over the Table. The Bible teaches in 1 Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." While I respect other traditions, my view is that the Holy Communion should be served by the leaders of a church assembly, whether they be pastors, elders or deacons provided that they are in good standing with the assembly. Any church leader or elder who is under church discipline should not preside over or partake of the Lord's Table until he is restored by the church. Believers who are under discipline should likewise refrain from partaking of the communion. Regarding the second part of the question which appears to have arisen in context, I believe that the Holy Communion should be celebrated in the assembly of believers only and that it should not be a served or observed in private by a believer or family unless the family constitutes an assembly. I am aware that someone may challenge this view on the basis that there is no express restriction in the Bible on "private" Communion celebration. If we accept that Scripture is the guide to church practice, then we can use the contexts of the two principal teachings on the Lord's Table to provide direction here. Jesus celebrated the first Table in the assembly of His disciples and He led the event in person. If we look at the command in Luke 22:19-20 which says "And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me." 20 Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. I reckon that the assembly of the disciples was in effect symbolic of the first church assembly gathering. In the second teaching by Paul which is commonly cited during the celebration of the Lord's Table, Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 11:33-34, saying "Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. 34 And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come." The idea of being together as a local assembly is definitely implied in this brief passage! We are to wait for one another! I believe a gathering of a local assembly is a the only legitimate basis for celebrating the Holy Communion. There is, however, no restriction as to where the celebration may be conducted so long as Christ is honored. My view is that the Holy Communion can be celebrated in a church hall, at a believer's home or even in an open gathering provided that the church is constituted for the purpose.
Shalom I agree with Phil Davies. We honour those who have been called to special office even as we are instructed in.Ephesians 4:11-16. With this intention to bring us all, including the five-fold ministries to His desired end. Ephesians 4:13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ Maybe even making it a service with all the pomp that further complicates matter. I believe I can have the 'Lord's supper' at home on my own or with my family or spouse as the Holy Spirit leads. I think scripture explains this very well in 1 Corinthians 11: 23 After all, I passed on to you what I had received from the Lord. On the night he was betrayed, the Lord Yeshua took bread 24 and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving. He broke the bread and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” 25 When supper was over, he did the same with the cup. He said, “This cup is the new promise[a] made with my blood. Every time you drink from it, do it to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you tell about the Lord’s death until he comes. What a glorious privilege to remember Him and what He did for us on the cross in participating in His supper as many times as we can.
When Jesus was on Earth, he had no official role or qualifications and was a Jew yet he held communion!
There are some excellent points made in the other answers and I agree that there are no scriptures which specifically limit the persons who can administer the Lord's Supper. However, there may also be sound, Bible based reasons for churches to impose such restrictions. If the church at Corinth in Paul's day had strong leadership who were trained in the doctrine and administration of the sacraments they probably would not have had the mess that Paul found it necessary to address in such strong terms. In the Corinthian church this solemn, memorial, sacramental ritual had degenerated into an occasion for sining because of a lack of knowledgeable leadership and competent supervision. Early church leaders probably viewed the limiting of the administration of the sacraments to ordained churchmen as a necessary step in preventing the degradation of those solemn rites. The problems with communion which Paul addressed in 1 Corinthians find their roots in ignorance and lack of discipline. Restricting the administration of communion to those who are known to be capable of conveying to the people the sound biblical doctrine associated with the rite and who are able to ensure that the elements are distributed appropriately will undoubtedly help to make certain that no one "eats or drinks in an unworthy manner." Since there are no biblical mandates against lay persons administering the Eucharist we cannot conclude that doing so would be a sin. However, turning the ceremony over to untrained people is probably not wise or prudent. It may, over time, lead to a loss of the wonderful symbolism, a degrading of the beauty of the experience of God's grace, and a decreased ability to sense the presence of our Lord at the table. That seems to be the very thing that got the Corinthians in deep weeds!
There was a man named Anthony Norris Groves, nicknamed "The quiet Trailblazer." He wanted to be a missionary in the early 19th century. (Anthony's sister married the famous orphanage founder Georg Mueller.) Groves was robbed of the money he set aside to complete his seminary degree. He asked the board who was to sponsor him if he could start his missionary work without the degree. They told him he could, but as a lay person, he could not serve communion. Undaunted, Georg and his wife went to Baghdad anyway. They even gave away what they had, and relied completely on faith. Anthony Norris Groves' rediscovery of the Biblical principle of trusting God alone to supply all our needs challenged the Christians of his day. And even without his degree, and church approval, he served communion, and converted many Muslims. The door he opened quickly reached Hudson Taylor, in China. Likewise he did not have a seminary degree, a true layman. Yet despite the strong opposition he received from the church boards, he also missioned to the masses, and served communion, with great success. (Though Taylor did get his doctorate in medicine.) These two, along with many others, prove that God did not require a sheepskin, but a servant's heart. Maranatha
The New Testement Communion finds its roots in the Old Testament Passover. Jesus instituted the Communion as He celebrated Passover with his disciples. It was a "Family" event. I beleive any Chrisitian or group of Chritians who want to remind themselves of the Covenent we have with God through Jesus can take communion, any time anywhere. Jesus said, "Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me". The Power of this is not in the bread or wine but in what it represents and is empowered by our faith. We can recieve health, strength, encouragement even deliverance throught this covenant evoking meal.
Yes, communion can be presided over by a lay believer, however as it was stated earlier if you are part of a Church that has set guidelines, those guidelines should be followed as the Church receives its authority from the Lord. However if we use the example of believers on a traveling mission, who have no set church, wanting to take communion while on their mission then I fully support them taking the Lord's Supper. Honor the authority you are under, and rejoice for the gift given to us by Our Lord.
According to scripture, "communion" was something that believers were to observe together. In fact, it's likely something to be observed whenever believers gather. Doesn't have to have all the "bells and whistles"... as long as people are remembering what it's all about. In fact, scripture warns about those coming to the feast just seeking the pleasure of the feast.... but even in context, seems that there is joy associated in the remembrance. So... it shouldn't be taken lightly, but can be observed more often than we probably do today. Since we are the ambassadors of Christ, I would think we can all partake and all "officiate" over the table.
There is an argument within the Christian domain as to who can administer Holy Communion within the Church. Can a lay person perform or does one need to be a Laity, Pastor/Bishop to perform such function? I think the question is not whether the lay person can administer or not, instead, whether the Lay person should or should not? Some would say, because every believer is a priest (1 Pet 2:9, there by everyone is qualified to administer. But if such is the case, then why not everyone become Pastor/Elder/Presbyter and deacons? If priesthood of believers qualify everyone to do anything they want within the Church, then few questions need to be answered: 1. Why were the Apostles so specific about who could help in the Church to cater to the needs of the saints – the criteria were those of good repute, Full of Spirit and Wisdom? (Acts 6:2-3). Why couldn’t they have just anyone on board to do the job, after all, it was just the issue of distribution. Anyone could have done the job? 2. Why did God then institute the five-fold Ministry? (Eph 4:11-13). The scripture says, he gave gifts to man. Was this gift really needed for Church? 3. Why do we need the qualification of an elder? (1 Timothy 3:1-7). Let anyone become an Elder/Bishop/Pastor/Presbyter? 4. Paul had given a very specific instruction to Titus to appoint elders in every city. If anyone could do this Ministry, why was elders needed. Elders in the bible are the Bishop/Pastor/Presbyter. (Titus 1:5) Further Paul left Titus in Crete so that he can appoint Elders in every town/city. Why did Paul do such a thing? Remember, Paul was Apostle unto the gentiles. Could Paul have done this without the leading of the Holy Spirit? 5. Why should God lay down the qualification of a deacon. (1 Tim 3:8-13). During Jesus’ time, we don’t hear any of these positions except for Apostles (Mark 3:14). We need to understand that during Jesus’ time we (Church) were still in a transition period. Moving from the old to the new age Now, we can quote many more scriptures but anyone reading these scriptures sincerely can say, that our God is a God or order (1 Cor 14:33). He is not the author of confusion as some confused Christians make others confused. God has ordered everything within the body too. Like how he has arranged every parts within the body, so has he ordered the functioning of the Church too. The above scriptures are a clear message that not everyone or anyone can do whatever they like within the Church; this is because God has put his house in an order and within that order he is designated office, qualifications to be in those offices. They are the leaders whom the bible calls “who are worthy of double honor or respect, they must be respected and believers must be willing subjected under their authority. (1 Tim 5:17, Heb 13:17). Not my words but God’s. Pauls word to Overseers in Ephesians: Keeping watch over yourselves and the entire flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherd of the Church of God, which he purchased with his own blood. Acts 20:28 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all God's holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Phil 1:1 So, there were overseer and deacons in Churches and they were appointed only after meeting the qualifications; this cannot be contested in scriptures. Now who should administer the Lord’s Supper? Some argue that there is nowhere written in the bible that only a Laity or an ordained Minister should administer. This argument is correct. But at the same time, no where is it written in the bible that a lay person can administer the Lord’s Supper? So, we can be dogmatic on the either side. Since Overseers/Elders/Pastors are those worthy of double honor, those who teach and preach the word of God, those under whom the believers must be subjected to, those who Shepherd the Church of God; I believe should be the one who oversees these affairs of administering Holy Communion too. Now, this always looks more honorable; for someone who has been dedicated to the task of a Shepherd (Church Pastor) by the Chief Shepherd (Jesus). The Deacons within the Church should assist the Pastor to serve the table. This is not because Pastor is Holier than others but because of the calling sake: the calling to be Teacher, Preacher, Shepherd, Equip the saints of God, Edify the body of Christ. It is good for the Church to leave this honorable task to the appointed and anointed leader.
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