By Thom S. Rainer
I just participated in my first Lord’s Supper via a streaming service. My pastor asked us to have juice and bread ready in our homes. I served my wife, and then I served myself as our pastor prayed and read Scripture regarding the Supper.
It was different, but it was meaningful.
To be clear, I know different churches handle this ordinance differently. Some call it by another name such as Communion. Some have a common cup. Some have different theological understandings of its purpose and meaning.
Many churches in my tradition have very small cups of juice on a plate with cup holders. And many have pieces of bread on a plate for each person to handle, pick up, and eat.
Will these practices change as we return to in-person services? Maybe I should ask it differently. How will these practices change as we return to in-person services?
I don’t have answers, but I do have questions. I hope to hear from some of you in the comments and others of you on social media. I will post the questions at Church Answers as well.
- Will your church return to its previous ways of handling the Lord’s Supper? In other words, the new normal of the post-pandemic era means you will return to serving the Supper with few changes. Do you consider some of the potential responses to be overreactions?
- What hygienic changes will you make in preparing and serving the Lord’s Supper? I can only imagine these responses will be both diverse and helpful. For example, I have already heard that many churches will no longer be handing out bulletins/worship guides for hygienic reasons. The risk of handling seems even greater with the elements of the Lord’s Supper.
- Will your church change the frequency of serving the Lord’s Supper? I am assuming that if the frequency does change, it will be less frequent. Some churches have been serving every week. Some are on a monthly rotation, and others do so every quarter. What are the implications of frequency of serving for the future?
- If you have considered significant changes in serving the Lord’s Supper, how do you plan to communicate that to your congregation? They have already seen a lot of changes during the stay-at-home weeks of the pandemic. How will you prepare your church members for the changes that will come once they can gather in person?
While there are many changes churches will and must implement in the post-pandemic era, the serving of the Lord’s Supper is one of those practices with rich theological and biblical meaning. The way churches handle this matter is not only one of safety and hygiene, it is one of profound theological implications.
My list of questions is by no means exhaustive. I really would like to learn from you regarding your responses to these issues. It is indeed one of many issues; but it is also one of the most important issues.
Let me hear from you.
Posted on May 11, 2020
With nearly 40 years of ministry experience, Thom Rainer has spent a lifetime committed to the growth and health of local churches across North America.
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