Observing Communion

Why do we celebrate the Lord’s Supper every Sunday? It’s a question that comes up in almost every membership class, and I’m always happy to answer it!

Historically, our church has roots in the Plymouth Brethren tradition, and one of the distinctives of the Brethren is a weekly observance of Communion. Our continuation of that practice is, in the first place, a humble acknowledgement of our own past. We did not invent how to do church in the last fifteen years, and our weekly practice of the Lord’s Supper reminds us of that. But there are some theological reasons as well.

First, we observe Communion every week for the sake of our members’ spiritual growth. Similar to the way God uses sunlight, water, and nutrients in the soil to help plants grow, so He uses various means to help His children mature spiritually. Practices like Bible intake, prayer, and Christian fellowship are the means God uses to help us grow in grace—hence, the term “means of grace.” One of the key means of grace for Christian growth is the regular observance of the Lord’s Supper, conveying our utter dependence upon Jesus for spiritual nourishment and life. Jesus made reference to this when He said: “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him” (Jn 6:56). Jesus isn’t describing the Lord’s Supper here; it’s precisely the other way around. That is, the Lord’s Supper is about what Jesus is describing—namely, the satisfaction He offers His followers and the profound dependence they have upon Him. The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic reminder, depicting our ongoing fellowship with Jesus and bringing us into a deeper experience of that fellowship.

Second, the Lord’s Supper and preaching work together to reinforce and enhance one another’s impact. Gospel preaching interprets the symbols in the Lord’s Supper; and the gospel reenactment in the Supper reinforces the message of preaching. Keeping these two together creates a synergy where the gospel proclaimed from the pulpit works together with the gospel presented in the Supper to lead worshipers into more profound levels of understanding and appreciation.

These things being true, it only makes sense to us to keep the word and table together. We want to preach the gospel and then reenact the gospel in every worship service. Or, to put it another way, we want to preach the word and then observe its results. Has God’s word created and sustained our fellowship with Jesus? When preaching leads to communion, we can be sure it has.