I traveled to North Carolina this past weekend, and visited a Baptist church for their Sunday morning service. It was an interesting and thought-provoking time. Some observations:
The service was ordered, serious (though not somber!), and reverent. To be very frank, I wasn’t expecting this in a Baptist church in North Carolina.
A baptism opened the service, and the Lord’s Supper was observed later on in the service. I’m sure that’s not at all common (the church was not large), but it was striking to have both ordinances observed in the same service.
The beginning of the service was punctuated by announcements. Now, I recognize that “notices” (to use an old term) are generally necessary for the smooth ordering of the church’s activities, and there is really no ideal place to put them in the course of the service, and people don’t tend to read bulletins. Acknowledged. All the same, the two-minute Girl Scout cookie announcement by a Girl Scout was a bit more than I could swallow. A cultural thing?
When communion was served, four ladies distributed the elements. The four ladies were deacons. Now, some time ago, I came to the conclusion in my study of 1 Timothy 3 that the “women” of 3:11 has reference not to deacon’s wives or deaconesses, but female deacons (who, I might add, are not portrayed in the authority-wielding way in which Baptist churches often understand deacons). This was, however, my first time seeing female deacons taking an active role of any sort during a worship service. The pastor, of course, guided the Lord’s Supper, and the man who led the music assisted him. The deacons said nothing and were unobtrusive in their serving — all the same, I mentally squirmed a bit as the Supper was observed. Perhaps it is merely a matter of getting used to something I haven’t experienced before. Then again, perhaps not.