How to be a Minister

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The Lost Sacrament

Within the Christian community there are common sacraments such as baptism and communion, but have you ever considered the lost sacrament?

How could something as critical as a sacrament be lost? Unfortunately it is fairly easy to lose important teachings simply by taking the emphasis off or neglecting to teach and practice them.

footwashingFoot washing is one of the biblical teachings that some like myself would consider at the sacrament level. Others have downplayed its importance and many refuse to give it any place in the modern church. Let’s consider three merits of foot washing;

  1. Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and told them, “’If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.’ ‘For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you.’” John 13:14-15 NASB
  2. Foot washing, when done correctly, has a major impact on the person doing the washing.  In Jesus’ day this was the task of the lowly slave who was designated to wash the feet of more honorable guests.   Thus, the person who is washing feet is put in a place of humble servitude. This is exactly what Jesus wanted His followers and future leaders to understand. Biblical leadership requires true humility and a servant’s heart. Wow, could we use some of this in the Church today!
  3. Foot washing also has an impact on the person having their feet washed. Having been on both sides of the towel, I can testify that there is a surprising reaction when someone has their feet washed by another person, especially a leader who they look up to. The reaction is generally mixed with embarrassment, reluctance, evaluation of ones needs and can even bring up shame and value issues.  Consider Peter’s reaction when Jesus went to wash his feet, “Simon Peter said to him, ‘Never shall you wash my feet!’ Jesus answered him, ‘If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.’” John 13:8 NASB

When foot washing is practiced with the right heart attitude it affects the relationship of everyone involved. Yes, even those observing can be touched in very deep ways by watching a minister or other leader take the first step and wash someone’s feet.   There has been much healing in strained or broken relationships through the simple act of foot washing.

What experiences have you had with foot washing?

Why is foot washing not considered a sacrament or at least given a place in the modern church?

Share your comments and participate in the blog discussion by posting and subscribing.

We will discuss Foot washing on the next Minister’s Candidate Conference call. If you are a current candidate for ordination, licensing or commissioning watch your email for details on the conference call.

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Comments 12

Guest - Mark F. Ardois on Friday, 17 August 2012 01:44

Thank you Dr. Dave. That blog and the conference call were very enlightening to me. This is an area that has been neglected in my life and in all the churches I have attended over the many years, and it needs to stop. I cannot thank you enough for listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write about and discuss this issue. I am convinced many lives, including my own, will now be affected down here in Miami because of this.

Thank you Dr. Dave. That blog and the conference call were very enlightening to me. This is an area that has been neglected in my life and in all the churches I have attended over the many years, and it needs to stop. I cannot thank you enough for listening to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to write about and discuss this issue. I am convinced many lives, including my own, will now be affected down here in Miami because of this.
Guest - Cathy Brennan on Thursday, 16 August 2012 23:00

Correction: 'I did not know the history any of the ladies attending'. (I was a stranger to these ladies and did not know them). This is my first post, ever.

Correction: 'I did not know the history any of the ladies attending'. (I was a stranger to these ladies and did not know them). This is my first post, ever.
Guest - Cathy Brennan on Thursday, 16 August 2012 22:55

I had altogether forgotten my two experiences in FootWashing . The first time, I had been saved only about three years, was going to a spirit-filled Methodist Church, in a Sunday School class called the Discussion Class, which was very free-flowing and unstructured. Being new to the church and to the class, I joined the Women for a weekend retreat. I did know the history any of the ladies attending. Well, someone brings out a foot tub and the washing began.....something broke when two ladies washed each other's feet. Little did I know that these two ladies did not like each other and must have expressed animosity over the years. For the moment, there seemed to be peace and reconciliation while many tears were shed when all saw how God worked at mending this relationship. The other time was at an Aglow meeting; we had been 'warned' the month before. I remember scrubbing my feet, spraying with SeaBreeze and powdering my shoes, hoping to not offend... a lot of pressure...seems funny now. It was a very moving experience for us all as we had precious members in the black and white community serving each other in humility and love. That was about 25 years ago and I have not heard anyone mention FootWashing until this blog reminded me. I am very thankful that the Lord gave me this opportunity and memories.

I had altogether forgotten my two experiences in FootWashing . The first time, I had been saved only about three years, was going to a spirit-filled Methodist Church, in a Sunday School class called the Discussion Class, which was very free-flowing and unstructured. Being new to the church and to the class, I joined the Women for a weekend retreat. I did know the history any of the ladies attending. Well, someone brings out a foot tub and the washing began.....something broke when two ladies washed each other's feet. Little did I know that these two ladies did not like each other and must have expressed animosity over the years. For the moment, there seemed to be peace and reconciliation while many tears were shed when all saw how God worked at mending this relationship. The other time was at an Aglow meeting; we had been 'warned' the month before. I remember scrubbing my feet, spraying with SeaBreeze and powdering my shoes, hoping to not offend... a lot of pressure...seems funny now. It was a very moving experience for us all as we had precious members in the black and white community serving each other in humility and love. That was about 25 years ago and I have not heard anyone mention FootWashing until this blog reminded me. I am very thankful that the Lord gave me this opportunity and memories.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Thursday, 16 August 2012 20:34

The sacrament of Foot Washing is an incredible spiritual experience. This sacrament for all those who are receiving or being served is a humbling process to commune with the beauty of God’s grace, mercy, and love. It allows God’s people to be reminded of our roles to love God and love others as we are the hands, feet and voice of Christ. I am saddened that we have lost this precious sacrament in our Christian walk with the Lord. I encourage all who have not had their feet washed or washing others, to try this beautiful and scripturally meaningful sacrament, your life will be blessed.

The sacrament of Foot Washing is an incredible spiritual experience. This sacrament for all those who are receiving or being served is a humbling process to commune with the beauty of God’s grace, mercy, and love. It allows God’s people to be reminded of our roles to love God and love others as we are the hands, feet and voice of Christ. I am saddened that we have lost this precious sacrament in our Christian walk with the Lord. I encourage all who have not had their feet washed or washing others, to try this beautiful and scripturally meaningful sacrament, your life will be blessed.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Thursday, 16 August 2012 20:02

To be honest, I have no experience at all with foot washing. I can not even remember ever hearing a sermon or message that discussed foot washing in a spiritual context, and I listen to, attend, and watch a lot of sermons. It is easy to see why foot washing would not be popular to teach as an act of obedient servitude, let alone a sacrament, in our modern church culture that is so focused on self. I am going to try and incorporate this with some of the youth I get to speak to.

To be honest, I have no experience at all with foot washing. I can not even remember ever hearing a sermon or message that discussed foot washing in a spiritual context, and I listen to, attend, and watch a lot of sermons. It is easy to see why foot washing would not be popular to teach as an act of obedient servitude, let alone a sacrament, in our modern church culture that is so focused on self. I am going to try and incorporate this with some of the youth I get to speak to.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Thursday, 16 August 2012 11:12

I have never experienced foot washing, aside from the occasional pedicure. I can see how spiritual foot washing would be beneficial and necessary. I can't see it happening in my church except perhaps through the women's ministry. Because there's no way I can see my pastor participating! Although it would have a great impact for him and the rest of us if he did.

Thank you for bringing up these wonderful spiritual experiences and truths, Dr. Dave! It makes me realize that I have truly lived a sheltered Christian life!

I have never experienced foot washing, aside from the occasional pedicure. I can see how spiritual foot washing would be beneficial and necessary. I can't see it happening in my church except perhaps through the women's ministry. Because there's no way I can see my pastor participating! Although it would have a great impact for him and the rest of us if he did. Thank you for bringing up these wonderful spiritual experiences and truths, Dr. Dave! It makes me realize that I have truly lived a sheltered Christian life!
Guest - Dr. Dave Smuin on Monday, 13 August 2012 00:49

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God." I Cor. 1:26-29

"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things that are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God." I Cor. 1:26-29
Pastor Dave Smuin on Sunday, 12 August 2012 23:16

When I work with the men at the jail I often use this to break through the tough facade. Most of the men believe that if they show any weakness they will not be respected by their peers or family.

I usually ask: "Do you believe Jesus is weak?"
The answer is always a heartfelt "NO!"

I then give the men homework to envision or to start treating their family or spouse with this type of humility. I usually go in to the tradition of foot washing from ancient times, as the job of a servant. I am always amazed at how the Holy Spirit uses this in the life of men and their families.

When I work with the men at the jail I often use this to break through the tough facade. Most of the men believe that if they show any weakness they will not be respected by their peers or family. I usually ask: "Do you believe Jesus is weak?" The answer is always a heartfelt "NO!" I then give the men homework to envision or to start treating their family or spouse with this type of humility. I usually go in to the tradition of foot washing from ancient times, as the job of a servant. I am always amazed at how the Holy Spirit uses this in the life of men and their families.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Saturday, 11 August 2012 17:39

Foot washing was an integral part of the communion celebration in a the first church I attended after conversion. It was a embarrassing, humbling and uplifting experience for me. The once embarrassing experience became an embracing one with Christ and others. Great insight Dr. Dave as usual.

Foot washing was an integral part of the communion celebration in a the first church I attended after conversion. It was a embarrassing, humbling and uplifting experience for me. The once embarrassing experience became an embracing one with Christ and others. Great insight Dr. Dave as usual.
Pastor Dave Smuin on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 16:00

I believe that people are hungry for authentic spiritual Christianity. I have had many foot washing services and never had a problem other than not enough tissue. The Lord does move in these things! As a non-denominational church we don't believe you need to be ordained to wash feet. You just need a right heart before the Lord.

I believe that people are hungry for authentic spiritual Christianity. I have had many foot washing services and never had a problem other than not enough tissue. The Lord does move in these things! As a non-denominational church we don't believe you need to be ordained to wash feet. You just need a right heart before the Lord.
Guest - Marjorie Bozer on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 04:01

I grew up in a church that practiced foot washing every time we had communion. As a homeschooling mom, I have done foot washing with my children several times and as one of the children's ministers at my church, I demonstrated foot washing the last time I led the service. I agree that it is a powerful expression of servanthood, humility, and love on the part of the person who is washing the feet. That is the role I fill most comfortably. As the person whose feet are being washed, again I agree with you. I have felt awkward at times but there have also been the bonding moments when I have felt chosen and valued and ministered to.

When I was thinking about having foot washing in our children's meeting, one person counseled me that it is an outdated practice and not relevant to today's society. I felt strongly about doing it, so I forged ahead. However, I worried about whether or not I would be able to get anyone to participate. I tried to make back-up plans in case everyone was too shy to volunteer. My husband was running sound that morning. I asked him to be available just in case.

As it turned out, I explained what I was about to do and asked for a volunteer. Many hands went up. They were excited about being a part of the demonstration. Washing a child's feet as I told them about the example Jesus set for us was powerful! Some asked if they could be next. I wished I could have washed everyone's feet. We'll have to do it again sometime.

I grew up in a church that practiced foot washing every time we had communion. As a homeschooling mom, I have done foot washing with my children several times and as one of the children's ministers at my church, I demonstrated foot washing the last time I led the service. I agree that it is a powerful expression of servanthood, humility, and love on the part of the person who is washing the feet. That is the role I fill most comfortably. As the person whose feet are being washed, again I agree with you. I have felt awkward at times but there have also been the bonding moments when I have felt chosen and valued and ministered to. When I was thinking about having foot washing in our children's meeting, one person counseled me that it is an outdated practice and not relevant to today's society. I felt strongly about doing it, so I forged ahead. However, I worried about whether or not I would be able to get anyone to participate. I tried to make back-up plans in case everyone was too shy to volunteer. My husband was running sound that morning. I asked him to be available just in case. As it turned out, I explained what I was about to do and asked for a volunteer. Many hands went up. They were excited about being a part of the demonstration. Washing a child's feet as I told them about the example Jesus set for us was powerful! Some asked if they could be next. I wished I could have washed everyone's feet. We'll have to do it again sometime.
Guest - Steve Reid on Wednesday, 08 August 2012 01:00

Brother Dave,
This is a very good blog and one that should be pratice in all churches. Jesus did give us this example of humility,love.compassion when he washed the Disciples feet. I also love what Jesus told Peter John 13:8-9 Peter said unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. When the church understands that God wants all of us instead of part of us, then God will be able to use the whole Body.
Brother where I go know they do not pratice feet washing and that is sad.

Brother Dave, This is a very good blog and one that should be pratice in all churches. Jesus did give us this example of humility,love.compassion when he washed the Disciples feet. I also love what Jesus told Peter John 13:8-9 Peter said unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.;) When the church understands that God wants all of us instead of part of us, then God will be able to use the whole Body. Brother where I go know they do not pratice feet washing and that is sad.
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