LBCF 26:11 Lay Preachers “approved and called by the church”

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by SGW, Jul 14, 2018.

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  1. SGW

    SGW Puritan Board Freshman

    LBCF 26:11 reads,

    “Although it be incumbent on the bishops or pastors of the churches, to be instant in preaching the Word, by way of office, yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it [a].

    [a] Acts 11:19–21; 1 Peter 4:10,11”

    I recently learned of a reformed baptist church that will formally approve and call four men as what’s being termed “gifted brothers” (i.e. lay preachers). This will occur at a annual meeting and will consist of a vote by church members followed by a prayer of consecration.

    Has anyone heard of this before? I’m not wanting this to turn into a debate regarding the legitimacy of lay preaching, but would like to hear of other’s experiences in reformed baptist churches. How have lay preachers been “approved and called by the church”?

    Also, is there biblical warrant to have a formal calling and consecration for anything other than elders and deacons?

    Thanks for any feedback.
  2. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Now that's pretty funny. Just saying. :)
  3. Scott Bushey

    Scott Bushey Puritanboard Commissioner

    After studying this for quite some time and waffling between the two ideas, I have now come to the conclusion that there is a biblical (p)reaching that a lay-person can do and, (P)reaching that the ordained possess. You can clearly see in the scriptures where proclamations are given by laypeople and the ordained. The only distinction I will make is the responsibilities that accompany both; one being for the elders, the sacraments, etc and the other, remaining faithful to the word.

    I believe the lay-person making proclamations should be under the over sight of their local church and it's leaders and sent with their blessings.
  4. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    No. :)
  5. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Would this be considered the same as havingsomeone in the laity teaching say an elective Sunday school class, or leading a cell ministry group?
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2018
  6. iainduguid

    iainduguid Puritan Board Sophomore

    The PCA does something similar by means of licensure. Unlike the OPC and ARP, which view licensure purely in terms of preparation and testing before ordination, PCA BCO 19.1states "A ruling elder, a candidate for the ministry, a minister from some other denomination, or some other man may be licensed for the purpose of regularly providing the preaching of the Word upon his giving satisfaction to the Presbytery of his gifts and passing the licensure examination." Licentiates are not permitted to administer the sacraments, or conduct weddings. This provides a mechanism for appropriate oversight and examination of a man's character and gifts, if he is regularly going to be filling a pulpit. If you have rural churches who cannot afford their own pastor, it seems like a good solution.
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  7. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member

    It depends on whether you are asking about the offices of a New Testament church or a call by the church for ministry. If you are asking about the latter, I believe it perfectly acceptable for the elders of a church to recognize an ability to teach and/or preach and to call a person who possesses these abilities to use them for the edification of the body. It goes without saying that such a person is under the oversight and authority of the elders and is not operating independent of them.
  8. earl40

    earl40 Puritan Board Professor

    Where is such a warrant found in scripture in your opinion? :)
  9. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    When I was a teaching Elder in the AOG, had men under me who would be assigned at times to teach Sunday school classes, and they just were required to present to me and the pastor the outline of what they were intending to say on the subject matter.
  10. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    If you are referring to Reformed Baptist churces, the sample size is very small. In other words,, just because you have never heard of an RB church doing so does not mean it is heterodox.

    However, many Baptist churches and associations provide licensure for lay preaching.
  11. SGW

    SGW Puritan Board Freshman

    Yes, I figured the thread could quickly move in that direction and wanted to avoid that if possible. So far, everyone has been very well behaved.☺

    I agree the oversite is critical, but am trying to understand what the process should look like. For example, what are the specific qualifications? How long does the calling last? Is there a time of vetting by the congregation prior to calling? It seems to me that anyone who’s going to be in the pulpit on a regular basis should meet the same qualifications as an elder.
    Based on Ian’s post, it seems the PCA has a detailed protocol, which is good. Maybe the Reformed Baptists need a BCO like you guys have.

    I think it could involve what you’ve described, but the primary intent seems to be preaching during the worship service.

    Bill, you’ve brought up a good point. That is, the calling of officers vs. calling to a church ministry. Regarding the later, what specific ministries would you say warrant a formal calling and approval (e.g. lay preachers, missionaries, street preachers, children’s Sunday School teachers, ushers/doorkeepers, etc.)? Would you say the answer to this question is at the discretion of each local church, for the sake of maintaining order (as apposed to being a biblical directive as is the case for calling elders and deacons)?

    Regarding the OP, do you have any specific examples of how lay preachers have been “approved and called by the church” (specifically in a church holding to the LBCF)? What were the qualifications and what was the process?

    Ken, I agree the sample size is relatively small. I think this, coupled with the independent nature of Reformed Baptist Churches, makes it difficult to know how things of this nature are “typically” handled. Do you personally know of, or have you heard of, a RB church that has “approved and called” a lay preacher? If so, what were the qualifications and what was involved in the process?
    Thank you for any information you can provide.

    Edited to correct Herald’s name.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2018
  12. Herald

    Herald Administrator Staff Member


    26.8 of the 1689 LBCF sets forth two offices of the local church, bishops/elders, and deacons. 26.11 states, "yet the work of preaching the word is not so peculiarly confined to them but that others also gifted and fitted by the Holy Spirit for it, and approved and called by the church, may and ought to perform it." This paragraph only addresses "the work of preaching", so we should center our discussion on this aspect of ministry. Besides ordained men, who else could possibly preach and would need approval from the local church? You mentioned lay preachers, missionaries, and street preachers. A lay preacher could be a member of the church who is gifted in speaking and communicating biblical truth. While we rightly place a high opinion on men who are seminary trained, ultimately the elders of the local church are responsible for what is preached, and they are the ones best equipped to make that call. At one time I was involved with some of the work of Open Air Campaigners. Many of the men who preach the gospel are not ordained but do so under the authority of their local church. The same with missionaries. Even summer camp speakers may be able to preach under the auspices of local church authority.
  13. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I think Bill has summarized the context well. A local church often desires to send men to do local evangelism or camp preaching or open-air work and it is much better to sanction this ministry under the authority of a local church.

    These men are commissioned by their church to preach, and undergo examination, but are often not ordained. Some baptist churches speak of a two-part process of being "licensed to preach" and then later, after a trial period, being "ordained." This was not uncommon in church history.

    Here is a short summary of the history of lay preaching:
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  14. KMK

    KMK Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, but I was not a part of the approving and calling procedure.
  15. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Puritan Board Freshman

    If I may give some additional historical context: the particular baptists recognized gifted brethren who by the Spirit were given some (and often in the future all) of the gifts of teaching. Functionally then and now even in my own church (though we do not use the term "gifted brother" in a formal sense) it was a means of maturing a man in the pastoral work, often with the future goal of ordaining the man to the ministry. In this sense, the category of "gifted brother" would be similar to the Westminster Directory of Public Worship allowing those who are seeking the ministry to preach. Additionally, these men often served as emissaries of the church to the association on the churches behalf so that the elders might remain and minister in the body.

    In an official sense, these men in authority are no more than members. They do not have the authority of elders beyond in their teaching under the authority of the elders. In a practical sense, then and now, they often serve to help carry the load of the church by helping the elders in the teaching ministry, whether by Sunday schools or in sermons on the Lord's Day. It seems common, at least where I have seen, that Particular/Reformed Baptist churches do not have as many elders as they would like, and thus are constantly raising up men from within the congregation.
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  16. Dachaser

    Dachaser Puritan Board Doctor

    Good points, as our church supports and stands behind Open Air Missionaries, and do see them as being an extension of the local church out into their community, or perhaps better to say as an extension of the Kingdom of God into their local city.
    We have formal teachings/studies that all Sunday school teacher are to do, and each one is checked to see if they seem to be gifted to teach to children, and the same applies towards those in adult teaching classes. The pulpit would be the area when one would need to be ordained in our church to be teaching from to the congregation.
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