Southern Baptist Views on the Lord’s Supper

*Posted by Winston Hottman

A recent survey by LifeWay Research catalogs the ways Southern Baptist churches approach the Lord’s Supper. The study examines the frequency of observances and restrictions on participation.



















The survey raises interesting questions about Southern Baptist practices and distinctives. Scott McConnell, director of LifeWay Research, is quoted in a Baptist Press cover of the story:

“A single question cannot capture all the nuances of who churches allow to participate. There are many descriptive phrases different people prefer,” McConnell said. “However, the choices provided address key attributes mentioned in the Baptist Faith and Message such as believer’s baptism and church membership. Today, many Southern Baptist churches may nuance their answers in different ways, but this gives a helpful picture of where SBC pastors are on the issue when choosing between the provided options.

“Clearly, though, this survey points out a difference between the beliefs expressed in the Baptist Faith and Message, and the Lord’s Supper practices of many Southern Baptist churches,” McConnell said.

Article VII of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 ( lists baptism as a “prerequisite to the privileges of church membership and to the Lord’s Supper.” Article VII also says the Lord’s Supper is for “members of the church.”

Check out the rest of the Baptist Press article here.

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3 Responses to Southern Baptist Views on the Lord’s Supper

  1. From my experience and perspective (and I have been a Christian and Southern Baptist for over 56 years), the Lord’s Supper observance has become a meaningless activity devoid of any sense of holiness — not for me personally, but in the general conduct of the service. Often, it is offered inclusively for all in attendance rather than exclusively to baptized believers (and I would prefer to baptized members of the local body). I have been in services where it is “self-serve” rather than the body serving one another. I have even been in services where the bread used was leavened. There is a lot to be said for “ritual” — it impresses upon the mind that something is sacred — and sadly, I believe we are losing that. I understand that it is only one of two ordinances that we are given, so for that reason alone it should be held in honor and reverence, and set apart, i.e., made holy.

    • Jerry Cartwright says:

      I concur with you observations. They mirror my experiences covering 60 years as a Baptist. I am now trying to encourage my Church to observe the Lord’s Supper more regularly. We haven’t had one for over a year. I think the one most powerful sin the Church commits today is that it limits God.

  2. Trey Medley says:

    The real question becomes, then, do Southern Baptists recognize non-immersion forms of Baptism as valid Baptism, even if they aren’t the preferred method. On this point, I think there is an increasing shift to consider these baptisms prior to belief as valid provided the person is now a believer, just not preferable (which is considerably different from what it was a decade and a half ago). Just my thoughts, though.

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