Why Celebrate?

Lords-SupperThe Lord’s Supper is an ancient ritual that has survived 2,000 years of change in the church. It has been the subject of many controversies:

  • the possibility of the change of the elements into the body and blood of Christ
  • the frequency of celebration
  • the proper celebrants and participants
  • the use of alcoholic or non-alcoholic wine
  • the yeast content of the bread, whether all should drink from one cup
  • the proper words of institution
  • etc.

My beliefs here are quite simple. They can be boiled down to three primary things:

1. Our celebration of the Lord’s Supper is a type of reenactment of the Last Supper that Jesus had with his disciples, and is a time of fellowship of remembrance.

2. The Lord’s Supper is best done every week. This was the pattern of the early church and I think there are good reasons for this.

3. The celebration of the Lord’s Supper is the primary reason for the gathering of the church weekly.

I have had opposition to all three of these points in churches where I have served or been a member. The most opposition has come from #3, because very few churches see the celebration of the Lord’s Supper as the most important thing they do on Sunday.

I have led seminars on this topic, and I usually begin by asking a room full of church leaders, “Why do you have the Lord’s Supper at your church?” I think there are a couple of valid answers to this question, but I am amazed that many times no reason is given at all. Often a reason is, “That’s what we have always done.” This is partially correct, but not in the way it is usually intended to be understood. What most people who say this mean is, “I have no idea why we celebrate the Lord’s Supper. This church started doing it before I came and we have just kept doing it.” What would be correct is to say, “This is what the church has always done, clear back to the first century.”

My point in this blog is to say that if the leadership of a church does not know why they celebrate the Lord’s Supper, one of two things should happen.

1. Quit celebrating it.

2. Study and come to a consensus on why you observe this ritual. If you cannot, see option #1.

I hope that we continue the weekly celebration of the Supper of the Lord. I hope I will always be able to find a church where this is the case. I hope our worship times don’t squeeze it out as something that is a hindrance to church growth.

One last thought: if the celebration of the Lord’s Supper in a church has defaulted to the worship leader, that church probably doesn’t care about it very much. I know there are exceptions to this, but I think this is generally the case.

Mark KrauseNebraska Christian College

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