by J. A. Medders
For four years now, Redeemer Church has been enjoying weekly remembrance of our Lord at his supper. At my blog, I recently detailed the biblical and historical reasons why we made the switch to weekly enjoyment. Brandon Smith also helpfully walked through a biblical reason for it's importance. Simply, I think the answer is always more gospel, not less. Why not enjoy more of the gospel? Also, with a weekly remembrance of Christ in the bread and cup, you have a guaranteed gospel proclamation. If the preacher fumbles his sermon and misfires on preaching the grace of God, the supper will preach too.
Now, after writing on why we switched, I’ve received a lot of emails from folks saying how their church decided to switch after reading my post. Wonderful. And then the other emails asking, “How can we gain support from other leaders? How should we present it to the church? Any issues you’ve seen?” Great questions. So, let’s go into the logistics of such a move.
How to Bring it Up
If you are a member of a church and wish your church observed weekly communion, I’d suggest asking God to give you wisdom on how to bring this up with your elders in way that doesn’t come off as combative, culture hijacking, or hey-you-guys-are-stupid-why-haven’t-you-thought-of-this kind of way. If you do bring this up to your elders, let your encouragement of them and honoring of them be more noticeable than what you are suggesting to them. Let it be more of you building them up than bringing something up.
If you are a pastor/elder in the church, don’t show up at the next elder meeting and lay out the new communion schedule. You need to lead others into this new culture.
The communion schedule is a part of the church’s culture. A culture change of this magnitude will need patience, agreement, and excitement. You don’t want indifferent nods to weekly communion. You want your fellow pastors/elders excited about the new practice.
So, at the next meeting, bring a proposal to move towards weekly communion, inviting the team to study the relevant passages, the historical practice, and talk about why you are convinced it is important. Assess the reasons why you haven’t already been doing weekly communion. Is it because it hasn’t been on the radar, previous church tradition, etc.? Go where the Bible takes you.
How Will We Serve the Table?
After the leadership agrees to move to weekly communion, you need to figure out how and when you will serve it. Get the kinks worked out before you roll it out.
Where will it be placed in the liturgy? And then, how will it be served? Will people come up to a table, will the elements be passed, etc.? Will people dip or sip? (We sip.) Little cups? What about gluten-free needs in the body?
Think through all of these things before you make the move to weekly communion. Rushing into remembrance sounds good, but you could cause more problems by not leading well.
You will have to experiment with worshipful and orderly ways of distributing the elements. Will there be one loaf we all tear from? One cup we all drink from? For larger churches, this would be difficult to do. Probably impossible. It’d take all morning. We need to allow for some flexibility in the orthopraxy of our orthodoxy.
How We Serve the Table
After a batch of trial and error, here’s how we serve communion at Redeemer.
Our crackers are all free of gluten. I’ve seen where churches have a gluten-free table and then gluten-filled table. I don’t think it is a wise move. Read the communion passages in 1 Corinthians and the division and side-eyeing going on during their Supper is staggering. We don’t want to open the door to division and something as microscopic as gluten can scatter seeds of division and distinction in our hearts. We went all-in on getting gluten out for this reason. More unity. Not less.
After my sermon, I transition us into communion. I ask the communion attendants and band to come up. I’ll give a brief word about the elements, Christ’s body and his blood, and what we are remembering—and how the Lord Jesus himself is present with us as we join his table. I’ll say how this is only for those who know Jesus is their Savior, and if you don’t believe in Christ, repent and trust in him today.
I’ll then say as the elements are passed, “Let’s worship and remember Jesus together. I’ll come back up and we’ll eat together.”
Next, as the band begins to play, four communion attendants, two on the left section of chairs and two on the right section of chairs will each pass a tray that has the bread and the juice. The cups are stacked. (Yes, we use those teeny cups). The bottom cup has a gluten-free cracker, and the juice cup is resting on top. We stole this delivery method from The Village Church. Without a doubt it’s made the process faster, voiding people’s objecting that communion would take too long to do every week. Since the attendants each have their own tray of bread and juice, they pass their tray down alternating rows.
Now, while the elements are being passed, we are worshipping, singing a song together. We aren’t sitting or standing there quietly. We are singing our guts out. We are holding the bread and cup and lifting our voices to the Lord. You probably sing after the sermon anyways, so why not eat his flesh and drink his blood along with it?
After the elements have all been passed—usually takes two verses of the song—I get the nod from our Worship Pastor, and I come up and read 1 Cor. 11. Eating when Jesus says to eat. Drinking when Jesus says to drink. And I finish with Paul’s words, “Every time we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until he returns.” And then we pick up the song where we left off; it’s beautiful. And when the next verse in the song is about the return of Christ, it is so sweet to the heart.
Presenting Weekly Communion to the Church
The best way to present this change to the church is to preach on it and model it. We did a mini-series on baptism and communion. I preached from 1 Corinthians 11 on what communion is and isn’t, the benefits and joys of it, and why the elders are convinced from the Bible that we should move to a weekly “take and eat” beginning that day.
You’ll need to address the assumptions and questions head-on in the sermon. I did. You have to. A lot of them are discussed in the previous post.
Help people see their skittishness towards a weekly Supper is possibly from their background and previous traditions and not anything from the Bible.
Some folks are concerned it’ll seem too Roman Catholic to remember every week. Well, Roman Catholics pray every week in their gatherings? Should we avoid that? Our aim isn’t to avoid looking Roman Catholic but to be biblical.
Others will worry that the Lord’s Supper will lose its preciousness and power. Well, we sing every week don’t we? Should we only sing once a month? Once a quarter to protect our worship? Should we only hear sermons once a month? Of course not. Regularity doesn’t always lead to apathy. Do you tell your kids, “We’ve been playing together too much. I want to protect our times together. So, how about we play together once a month?” It’s illogical. Silly. Distance from the Lord’s Supper will not make your heart grow fonder.
However you proceed, honor the Lord. Honor your leaders. Honor one another. Bear with one another. Stumble forward together. Cherish Christ together. Do that and you almost certainly can’t go wrong.