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Chapter 18: Understanding Church Ceremonies

Church Worker Handbook--
What You Didn't Learn in Bible College and Seminary

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© 2005, 1996 G. Edwin Lint

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Contents of This Chapter
in alphabetical order


Dedication, Building
Dedication, Infant
True Love Waits


This chapter of the Church Workers Handbook is generic within the total context of the evangelical church movement and does not relate to the customs or liturgy of any particular denomination. If the contents of this chapter are in conflict with the published policies and practices of your denomination, please proceed with prayerful consideration, asking the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction.

Each major segment of this chapter will consist of the following components:


The baptism discussed here will be adult baptism by means of total immersion.


Many congregations observe communion once every three months. The actual frequency is not a scriptural issue. Jesus only said, "do this in remembrance of me." Like baptism, communion is a means of testifying to everyone that we have accepted the shed blood and broken body of Jesus Christ as our personal sin sacrifice. Evangelical churches do not require church membership for participation in communion. However, all congregations should remind participants of the testimony that communion represents.

Luke 22:14 When the hour came, Jesus and his apostles reclined at the table. 15 And he said to them, "I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you, I will not eat it again until it finds fulfillment in the kingdom of God." 17 After taking the cup, he gave thanks and said, "Take this and divide it among you. 18 For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes." 19 And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me." 20 In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Both the bread and the wine [grape juice] are symbolic of the fact that the body of Jesus was crushed and broken in order that we might enjoy freedom from the penalty for our sins.

The Passover was celebrated all down through Old Testament history as the night in Egypt that the death angel of the tenth plague would pass over the households that had the blood of a lamb sprinkled on the door.

The night before Jesus died on the cross, He wanted to celebrate the Passover one last time with His disciples. From this night on, the world would remember His blood, the Lamb of God, as the means of salvation, instead of the Passover lamb of the Egyptian exodus.

Therefore, Communion represents the fact that when Jesus said, "do this in remembrance of me," He was saying this meal is the last Passover, and it is the first Communion.

The Bread and the Juice/Wine: The consistency of the bread and the wine will be discussed here briefly.

The Bread. Communion wafers that have the consistency and taste of paper are probably least appropriate and farthest from what was eaten during the First Communion. However, it is not necessary to have the women of the church concoct and bake a substance that is supposed to represent what was eaten that night either. My personal recommendation is to use a dark, whole-grain, off-the-shelf product served in small hand-broken pieces.

The Juice/Wine. The liquid served at communion is a little more problematic. Should we serve Welch's grape juice or should it be fermented wine? My personal opinion is that an inexpensive fermented wine served in standard communion glasses could hurt no one physically. However, real wine may offend some spiritually. Therefore, a store-brand grape juice may be your best choice.

The night before Jesus died, He wanted to celebrate the Old Testament Passover one last time with His disciples. He knew that this would be the last time the blood of lambs would be remembered as a means of salvation. From tomorrow onward to the end of time, everyone would remember His blood flowing down the cross as their means of salvation.

We remember that last Passover and that first Communion by sharing in bread and wine. Both wheat and grapes must lose their original identity and surrender to the processes of planting, grinding, crushing, and squeezing. So, as we share the bread and wine, we also surrender our personal identities to the will of God as we remember that His shed blood washed away our sins.

The night of the first communion, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, "This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me"

Shall we eat the bread together, remembering how His body was broken for us by the nails, the thorns, and the spear.

In the same way, He took the cup, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Shall we drink together, remembering how His blood was shed for us.

Dedication of a Building

The practice of setting aside a building for the express purpose of worshipping God goes all the way back to the days when Solomon built the first temple.

Infant Dedication

Of all the professional duties an evangelical pastor is called upon to perform, dedicating babies is the favorite. It's great to hold each precious bundle of potentiality and ask God to use this child in His service. Maybe this baby will be a missionary or an evangelist. Or maybe this one will be a born-again teacher or typist. No matter. Each bundle is precious to God and to the families entering into the covenant of infant dedication.

[Speaking to the parents/guardians:]

Do you covenant before God and in the presence of these witnesses to do everything in your power to raise these babies and young children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? If so, answer 'I will.' And do you covenant to bring them weekly to God's house for instruction and worship? If so, answer 'I will.' And do you covenant to strive to bring them to an early knowledge of Jesus Christ as a personal Savior? If so, answer 'I will.' And do you promise to give your child over to God's service, in whatever area He sees a need? If so, answer 'I will.' Now that you have promised in the presence of God and these witnesses to discharge your scriptural responsibilities as parents, I will dedicate each child in turn,

[To be spoken as each child is dedicated while the pastor moves across the platform and takes each child in his/her arms. If the technology is available, a picture of the child should be projected on a large screen during the dedication.]

"This is xxx xxx xxx, the son/daughter of xxx and xxx xxx, born xxx xxxth. Heavenly Father, we rejoice with xxx and xxx in the coming of this blessed child into their home. We pray that you will give these parents the wisdom of Solomon, the courage of David, and the strength of Samson, as they contend against the forces of evil that will strive to destroy his/her never-dying soul. Now, we dedicate xxx xxx xxx to You and to Your service, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen."

[Repeat this dedicatory prayer until all candidates have been individually dedicated.]


The most difficult type funeral is when the departed has never given evidence of accepting Jesus Christ as a personal Savior.

However, when the departed has been a professing Christian, the entire tenor of the service changes and it takes on a spirit of Celebration and scriptures such as those shown below may be used.


My son's wedding in 1985 was organized the best of any wedding I have ever attended, including my own. The minister stood at a lectern, down at floor level, in front of the altar, and the wedding party was arrayed in a semicircle up on the platform. In this way, everyone had an excellent view of the bride and groom, the bride's dress, and each female and male attendant.

When the minister had something to say to the congregation, he faced forward, and when he spoke to the bride and groom, he faced the platform with his back to the congregation.

I recommend that all weddings be organized in this fashion. Of course, the minister only has the right of expressing an opinion. Decisions are made only by the bride's mother and maybe the bride.


The Bible reports church membership as illustrated below in Acts 2. However, there is no command that we must join a church. You can attend any church without joining and participate in most activities, other than voting in a church election.

However, when you find a church that meets your spiritual and social needs, it makes sense to join if officially. Joining a church carries the following rights and responsibilities:

  1. The written statements of faith and standards of behavior provide a moral compass for you and your children to follow.

  2. Corporate worship is more satisfying when it is shared on a regular basis with persons you know.

  3. You are eligible to vote and even to hold official elected office within the church body.

  4. In times of material need such as sickness or an operation, your fellow worshippers are likely to bond together and provide assistance.

  5. In such times, you may be put on a "prayer chain" where the church's prayer warriors will remember you and your need with prayer support.


The Bible clearly teaches tithing: giving a tenth of the family income for the support of the church. Lev 27:30 A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD.

The practice of tithing permits a relatively small congregation to pay a pastor's salary, build and maintain an attractive church plant, and support missionary work around the world.

Acts 2:46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

True Love Waits

While some persons seem to practice loose morals, others are turning to virginity and sexual abstinence. This movement includes the practice of taking a formal vow of virginity and celibacy. A ring is given to the celebrants, to be surrendered to the spouse at the eventual wedding.

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