Elders' Families at the Lord's Supper

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bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
This morning I attended morning worship at a URCNA church here in Orange County, CA. I enjoyed it a lot: a good sermon on John 10.22-40, a good Sunday School class on the doctrine of the Trinity, good fellowship, etc., etc.

One thing surprised me, though: at Communion time, the elders and their familes were served first, before the congregation. I have no objection to the elders being served first (or last, as in my home church [OPC]), but - just off the top of my head - to serve the elders' families with them at the same time is almost to treat their families as if they were officers in the church, which they're not.

Am I wrong about this, or should this be a concern?
 

SinnerSavedByChrist

Puritan Board Freshman
Mark 9:35
"If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all."

And Mark 10:44-45
"For whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all. For the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many."

(these two were my recent memory verses - how opportune!)

And also:
"But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. " (Mark 10:42-43).

I would like to think that the Elders and their families are given honour in this case, because of the multiple commands in scripture to give honour and high esteem to those who labour in the gospel, who ensure and care for the salvation of souls.

But yea, what are people's thoughts?
 

C. M. Sheffield

Puritan Board Graduate
Interesting practice. One I've not heard of. However, I do know that the New England Puritans did seat the congregation and administer the Lord's Supper according to civil and ecclesiastical status (e.g. judges and government officials were served before farmers and shoemakers -- and had better seats too!).

I'm not entirely sure how I feel about these kinds of things. I know they've been an issue at various points in church history. On the one hand you have James' prohibition against showing partiality: "if you show partiality, you commit sin" James 2:9. On the other hand there is Paul's statement about giving honor where honor is due: "Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour." Romans 13:7. So suffice to say, at times it can be difficult to know how to apply these in the life of the church.
 

Peairtach

Puritan Board Doctor
Sometimes elders are served first for practical reasons, because they then, in turn, serve the bread and wine to the other communicants.

Sent from my HTC Wildfire using Tapatalk 2
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
You'd have to ask the church why they they did that, but I can think of a handful of reasons that have nothing to do with partiality. Most of these would be about the elders having a role in overseeing the Supper. Having been served first (or last - does it really matter?), they would be free while the rest of the congregation is served to focus on their oversight role, whatever it may be. Or... even if they were only brought up front to be more visible during the Supper, the purpose of the gesture might be to associate them with the authority behind the Supper or with leadership of the congregation rather than to show them honor and partiality.

If it was done only to give the elders extra honor or recognition, the whole thing seems a tad odd. But serving their families with them would be a nice gesture in any case, allowing them to partake as a family, and demonstrating that those men don't have a me-first attitude when it come to loving their wives.
 

SeanPatrickCornell

Puritan Board Sophomore
Let's make sure we are understanding the point the OP is making. He is NOT question the practice of administering the ordinance to the Elders first.

He is questioning the practice of administering the ordinance to the Elders and their familes first.

Personally, I can think of no real defense for that practice, except that this particular church does it that way, and the membership is ok with it.
 

bookslover

Puritan Board Doctor
Let's make sure we are understanding the point the OP is making. He is NOT question the practice of administering the ordinance to the Elders first.

He is questioning the practice of administering the ordinance to the Elders and their familes first.

Personally, I can think of no real defense for that practice, except that this particular church does it that way, and the membership is ok with it.

Thanks, Sean. I was beginning to think I hadn't been clear in my OP.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
Why would serving the families along with the elder feel like treating the families as officers? To me, it only feels like treating them as family members of an officer. Isn't it reasonable to let a man partake of the Supper alongside his wife? I wouldn't read anything into that other than that the guy and his family like to be together during the Supper, and the church is supportive of family togetherness.

Wives of pastors and elders sometimes feel left behind while their husbands attend to church leadership. In some churches (and the Dutch Reformed tradition has its share of them), the pastor and elders traditionally sit up front, separate from the congregation. There are good reasons for this, but it isn't really the nicest thing to do to the wife and kids. Letting them be with their man during the Supper would seem to be a kindness towards them, nothing more.

Anyway, that's my best (charitable) guess. So, no, I for one do not see a reason for concern.
 
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