Recieving Communion #2A new rhythm…

We have a new rhythm at Pleasant Valley Community Church that I absolutely love!  So that more of the members of the Pleasant Valley family are able to participate, we have begun receiving the Lord’s Supper together on the last Sunday morning of each month. Since the earliest days of our church we have gathered to do this on Wednesday nights, but as the church has experienced exponential growth over the last few years, the majority of our people have been unable to participate in this Wednesday gathering. As a result, we made the decision to start observing on Sunday mornings. Since this is a relatively new practice for us, we are thinking critically through how we observe the Lord’s Supper in a way that is Biblical, honors Jesus, and serves our family well. We don’t want to be a church that just haphazardly takes The Supper, flinging out the elements to whoever would care to have a little snack! As we prepare to receive again this Sunday, (May 26th) my fellow pastors and Communications Coordinator thought it might be helpful for me to offer some thoughts on the subject of children taking communion in our gatherings.  Hopefully this blog will help parents critically think through a very important topic.

Setting the table…

Before we begin to discuss who should and who shouldn’t participate in the Lord’s Supper, it’s of utmost importance to establish what the Lord’s Supper actually is. A Biblical understanding of the ordinance makes the determination for us. As stated in PVCC’s Confession of Faith, we believe:

“The Lord’s Supper is the church ordinance in which baptized believers eat bread, signifying Christ’s body broken for His people, and drink the cup of the Lord, signifying the blood of the New Covenant. We observe this supper in remembrance of our Savior, and in effort to proclaim His death until He comes, all the while longing for the day when we will eat and drink with Him in the Kingdom of Heaven. We deny the Roman Catholic Church practice of the Mass, and insist that the Lord’s Supper is in no way a sacrifice. Furthermore, we deny the doctrine of transubstantiation, which teaches that the bread and wine literally turn into the body and blood of Christ. Lastly, we humbly recognize that there may be times when some believers cannot partake in the Lord’s Supper due to unrepented sin. All believers should be mindful to only participate only after having first examined themselves and discerned any unrepented sin in their lives—especially as it relates to other members of the body of Christ.”

As clearly stated in our confession and affirmed by Biblical texts such as Matthew 26:26-29 and 1 Corinthians 11:17-33, the Lord’s Supper is an ordinance instituted and commanded by Jesus Himself that is reserved only for those who have understood and taken ownership of their sin and the rescuing work of Jesus to save them. In response to this, they come to the table to receive the bread and wine as a means of professing present and ongoing belief in the Gospel and the promise of glory. Regardless of age, Biblically speaking, that is who is welcome at the Lord’s table to receive His Supper.

Let the little children come…

Jesus said in Matthew 19:14, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus loves kids. He commands kids to come to him just like he does teenagers, twenty-somethings, middle agers and the elderly. The Gospel call is not prejudiced toward any age. The Good News is for any and all, who by God’s grace, see their sin and place their trust in Jesus to save them from the wrath of God to come. Salvation is a simple but mysterious (John 3:8) thing that God bestows when and in the manner that He sees fit, only requiring a child-like faith (Matthew 18:2-4). A simple, humble, child-like recognition of need and an utter dependence on Jesus is all that is required for salvation. We, at Pleasant Valley, believe that God saves kids, and for that we are exceedingly thankful. With that said, kids who have heard, understood, and believe the Gospel should be allowed to participate in the Lord’s Supper. To prevent them from coming to the table with their older brothers and sisters in Jesus would be to deprive them of supernatural nourishment for their young souls and the joy of honoring Christ in obedience to his commands. When the Table is set, we should joyfully, “Let the children come…” who have placed their faith in Jesus.

Be the bad guy…

As a parent and a pastor in a church that is covered up with kids (which we love!), I have observed in my own family and in the families that I serve each week that parents have a hard time telling their children no. Let’s be honest, sometimes it’s just easier to just cave in and give the little boogers what they want (I’m guilty!). Other times our concession to our kids comes from a genuine, well-meaning desire to see our children happy, and we struggle to deprive them of the things they want. With that in mind, and in view of the content of this blog, let’s overlay these two things and consider the fact that there are, on any given Sunday that we take the Lord’s Supper, children participating in the ordinance that have no business whatsoever doing so. Dad, mom, grandma, grandpa— It’s ok to be the bad guy. Scripture dictates that unless our children have heard, understood, and believe the Gospel and have confessed that by water baptism, we not only have the right but the responsibility to prevent that child from coming to the Lord’s Table. Communion is not snack time.  It is a serious, weighty time (1 Corinthians 11:27-30) wherein the Christian is to consider his or her sin, reflect on the saving work of Jesus, and to rejoice in the promise of heaven. A child who has not done that must not eat the bread and drink the cup. Just say no! Harsh as it may seem, I promise you that it will afford you the opportunity to have beautiful, pointed Gospel conversations with your children.

Looking ahead…

So parents, as we look forward to Sunday when we will gather again and receive the Supper, help your child and our church honor Jesus by guarding the table. Begin to discuss with your kids (even today) what we’re going to do this weekend, what it means, and who it’s for. I pray that God would use our courage and diligence in teaching the truth of this beautiful ordinance to our kids as a means to bring them to saving faith in Jesus, when we will joyfully open the table to our little brothers and sisters in celebration. See ya’ Sunday!

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