Communion Changes: A Letter To My Congregation

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Starting in November, we are changing the way we serve communion. Both the worship committee and the session were unanimous in supporting this decision. We feel it is important for you to know why we are making this change.

It has been our recent practice to usher our congregation row by row up to the front where the elders serve the elements. While there were good reasons for this practice, a problem has arisen. It has been observed that everyone partakes each time the elements are served, including those who do not yet profess the name of Christ.

According to I Corinthians 11, we ought to examine ourselves before partaking of the covenant of the Lord’s Table. Some partake without the necessary self-examination and spirit of repentance, and they eat and drink judgment upon themselves (verses 27, 30). The Lord’s Table is for those who recognize and acknowledge their sins and their need for Jesus. It is not for the perfect, none of us is perfect. It is for sinners who need a Savior and the assurance of forgiveness offered to all who trust in Jesus. But those who refuse to repent of their sins, and those who do not know Jesus at all, should not partake or they will be cursed. We who believe the scriptural warnings ought to refrain from pressuring anyone into partaking who does not so desire, and instead ought to encourage them to participate only by observing the covenant Christ has given to assure His people.

We welcome unbelievers to visit our church. We do not want them to feel needlessly uncomfortable, the gospel is offensive enough (Galatians 5:11)! We do not want guests to take the Lord’s Table because we pressure them. Imagine you are a guest who does not know what to think about Jesus. Everyone around you is being ushered to the front to partake of a strange ritual. People on either side of you want to go forward, but you understand that the only people invited to partake are believers aware of their need for Jesus. Would you be comfortable having to choose whether to let people squeeze by you on the way to the aisle or go with them? If you went forward, how would you feel about refusing the elements in front of the whole congregation? I think most people would partake even if they are uncomfortable. We who understand the gravity of that error ought to empower our guests to watch the Lord’s Supper without feeling pressure to partake.

To solve this problem, and in consideration for those who have trouble walking to the front of the sanctuary, we will begin passing out the elements in the pews. Some have noted that approaching the altar for communion feels more worshipful than having it brought to them. Others have noted that the pressure to partake as soon as one arrives at the front so that others behind them may also partake minimizes the worshipful atmosphere. Opinions will differ, but one thing is certain, we serve one Lord and King of the Church, Jesus the Christ. Let us find our unity in Him as we submit to our leaders who seek to lead us in His ways.

Pastor Joshua Hall

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