Communion: how often is too often?


A pastor friend of mine dropped communion.jpgby yesterday to talk about communion.  He increased the observance of communion at his church from 4-times a year to 6-times a year.  At our church, we have communion on the first Sunday of each month — 12-times a year — plus on special occasions like Maundy Thursday and Christmas Eve. 

So, the question is — In non-liturgical churches, how often should a church have communion?  What does your church do and why?  Do your members believe that having communion more often makes it special, or do they think that having communion less often makes it special?  Or is that the wrong question?  Let me know what you think, because I’m sure other churches struggle with this also. 

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16 Comments

  1. We have communion every Sunday in our church. It gives us an opportunity every week to proclaim the gospel and call people to make a decision to trust the saving work of Christ for salvation. When the bread and cup are present there is a deeper sense of the presence of Christ in our midst. I grew up in a once a month church. Now that we gather around the table each week, I couldn’t go back. We are a non-liturgical kind of charismatic church.

  2. My church celebrates Communion monthly, on the first Wednesday of each.

    We went with Wednesday in order to avoid a lot of trouble with people not knowing how to handle it. On Wednesday, we have believers. On Sunday, you get the visitors. They might not understand why or why not to take Communion … so we went with Wednesday.

    The church I attended in college in North Carolina took Communion every week at the evening service — same logic. Visitors come in the morning, not the evening.

  3. We have it every Sunday. I never realized the significance of communion until I observed it weekly. I agree with wickle that there is a much deeper sense of Christ’s presence in the bread and cup.

  4. We celebrate Communion once a month. I would prefer weekly. I grew up in a church where we had a separate service every Sunday just to do communion. It never grew old to me by doing it every week

  5. I have old my Granddad, who was an old-school Southern Baptist preach that it should be once a year in conjuction with Easter. His theory was that the Lord’s Supper orginated as a part of Passover. Of course, I have also heard him teach about closed communion meaning church members only.

    Don’t really agree with his teachings but I thought it was interesting.

  6. We currently celebrate (and I like that description) communion every other month(during the main worship time with students K-12). We will also receive communion during our Covenant Renewal Service (First Sunday of the year); Ash Wednesday; Maundy Thursday and more than likely to conclude our local church conference in April. I have plans to move it to a monthly celebration, but we are taking it in baby steps. I come from a tradition that partook in communion once a quarter (that’s what the church regulations require.)

    In both of the small churches I have pastored, I have moved us to a more regular participation (bi-monthly.)

    In reference to celebrating communion, there is so much to say — it’s so much more than a rememberance of Christ’s suffering and death (and it is a powerful reminder), but it’s also a celebration of the resurrection and of Jesus’ return. Jesus told us to receive communion in rememberance of Him until the day of His return.

    By the way, I pastor a Wesleyan church (we have roots in the Methodist movement and we are non-liturgical. Although we have started adding some elements to our service.

  7. I’ll chime in and say, I think it’s the wrong question. In fact, when the decision about “how often?” centers around how it makes people feel, we’ve totally missed the point of the sacrament.

    I’ve been to churches where the “fencing of the table” (effectively a disclaimer to warn folks about the caution of believers rightly approaching the sacramental table) is functionally a brow-beating that tells everyone how unworthy they are to partake, and therefore they should be careful that every sin is repented of and every relationship fully reconciled– and if not, then they shouldn’t partake! In these churches, who would WANT to take the sacrament more than once a year?

    But the truth in the sacrament is that the work has been done on our behalf– the victory over sin and death has been won by Christ, and this meal is our remembrance of that. Unless our sin and unreconciliation be scandalous, we ought to race to the table! When the grace that is so embedded in the Gospel is brought to the sacrament as well– and it should be– then our people will hunger for it as often as they can receive it.

    This is the reason, I believe, that so many churches find great joy among their people when they offer it more often (even weekly): they’ve learned what Jesus really meant in “do this in remembrance of me” and learned also how to declare that as a part of the sacramental meal.

  8. This is a good question, I think. I can understand the comment by edeubanks, but it reflects a definite difference in our theology: As Baptists, we take a less-sacramental view – I won’t say non-sacramental, because I understand what that means and I don’t think that’s right either. Edeubanks’ comments reflect a very sacramental understanding of worship and communion.

    I grew up in a tradition that celebrated communion quarterly, and I wondered how it would be to worship in a church that does it more often. I had a hard time finding it a special experience while I was growing up – I didn’t understand it (and don’t claim to now, really). And I believed (because I had been told) that having it more often would make it lose its significance.

    I’ve never found communion more meaningful than it is at the church I pastor now, where we have communion once a month and at a few other occasions. And we are so accustomed to it that when we DON’T celebrate it (for instance, I do not do communion in Lent until Maundy Thursday), we all feel its absence.

    I’m usually not a traditionalist, and find that I lose meaning by doing something so often it becomes commonplace; this is probably a function of my age. But communion is one of those rare exceptions. The more I’ve come to celebrate it, the more meaningful it has become.

  9. The deciples met upon the first day of the week for this.
    1 Cor Apostle Paul corrects the Corinthians for doing it wrong. In chapter 16 of 1 Cor. we are told to lay by in store. It seems we can understand giving on the first day but not communing which is what they were there to do.

  10. The church I now served established quarterly observance of Communion. I think once a month would be better though. They also traditionally had it on Christmas Eve but I asked that they accept not having Communion on Christmas Eve. One reason is a number of folks in their “coming to church 1 time a year at Christmas” took Communion and allowed little children to do so” thus violating Paul’s instruction of taking it unworthily. Secondly I felt the message of Christmas was birth of our Savior, Immanuel God with us, not death & resurrection. While it has been accepted there are still a few complaints about the absence of Lord’s Supper on Christmas Eve.

  11. It appears that the disciples came together daily to break bread in Acts 2. Later they broke bread on the first of the week in Acts 20. I don’t think there is a commandment here. Later in 1st Corinthians 11, there is the suggestion that as often as you come together to remember the Lord. How often is often. One argument is that often is not seldom and that once per week provides for often. Every day provides for often too.

    In our church it is every Lord’s day with hymns and prayers offered by all the men which provides a great reflection on the death, sufferings and glories of Christ which is very special.

    “To Calvary Lord in spirit now our weary souls repair, To dwell upon thy dying Love and taste its sweetness there”

    This model is followed by Plymouth Brethren churches as well as some reformed churches like the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London (1800s), although I am not aware of those who do so today.

    Warmly,
    Leonard
    (Phttp://www.kjv-only.com/transaid.html

  12. Do as often as you WISH?
    Paul gives directions regarding the New Testament Passover service in the 11th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Some have interpreted verse 26 which says,
    “As often as you eat this bread and drink this cup” to say – “Take it as often, as many times as you like.” But is that what Paul meant to say?
    Read the CONTEXT. In verse 23, Paul says that what he received from Christ he delivered to the Corinthians, that :
    ” . . . the Lord Jesus the same NIGHT in which He was betrayed (14th of Nisan) took bread.”
    Jesus, as has been seen, introduced the symbols of bread and wine. He told His disciples “this do” in remembrance of Him. In the original Greek there is the definite article “the” so the phrase could read “this do in THE remembrance of me.”
    Now, what was the remembrance or MEMORIAL of Christ’s death? The PASSOVER – held on the 14th day of the first month of Abib or Nisan, the day the Passover lamb was slain.

    Many nations observe a “Remembrance Day” for all who died in the last two world wars. Many people observe a MEMORIAL of their wedding or someone’s birthday. How often do they observe these remembrance days? Only ONCE a year! A wedding, birthday, or death, is remembered in a special way usually ON THE DAY it occurred. We show or remember the Lord’s death by partaking of the bread and wine on the VERY DAY – the very NIGHT that Jesus did, when He told us “this do.” We remember Christ’s death through this ordinance often called the “communion service” by some as we follow His example of partaking of it on the NIGHT and the day of the 14th of Nisan in the Hebrew calendar. By following His example and observing this sacred ordinance at the same time He did, we do continue to REMEMBER His death annually, on the very anniversary of His crucifixion. It is the most solemn but yet joyful occasion of the year, especially when observed at this correct hour and day.

    Break Bread” – What does it mean?
    Acts 20:7,
    “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread . . .” and say this shows the “communion” – “Lord’s Supper” – was observed every Sunday. But notice, nothing is said about taking “the cup” or fruit of the vine. Surely if this was written to show that the New Testament symbols of bread and wine were to be observed every week, it would be more explicit. Especially when one considers the fact that it would have been a NEW custom for both the Jewish and Gentile Christians.
    If the question of circumcision, gave rise to a conference on the matter at Jerusalem (Acts 15), then surely the question of WHEN and HOW OFTEN the death of Jesus should be commemorated and remembered in a specific way would have demanded equal attention. But we find no such issue arising in the early Church of God.

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