Elements of Congregational Worship: the Lord's Supper

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So far I have written about the importance of prayer, singing, and Scripture in a worship service. Now I want to move on to the fourth element: the Lord’s Supper.

But before I do that I want to mention the importance of baptism as well. Baptism is the first of two sacraments (also called ordinances), the other being the Lord’s Supper. Baptism is an important part of the church and Christians since it represents the new believer dying to their old life and being made new in Christ. Baptism should not be neglected. However, baptism is not necessarily an element of a worship service so it will not be discussed any further here.

Now on to the Lord’s Supper. This practice can be traced back to one of Jesus’ last meals with the disciples (see Matthew 26 and 1 Cor. 11:24-26). Jesus took bread and said, “this is my body broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” Then Jesus took the cup and said, “this is my blood, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” So when we partake in the Lord’s Supper we are following Jesus’ lead to do those to things (eat the bread and drink the cup) in remembrance of him.

What is the significance of the Lord’s Supper? First, it is a way of honoring Christ. When we partake in the Lord’s Supper we are thanking him for what he did for us. Second, it is a way of remembering what he did for us. Third, it is a way of proclaiming your connection with Christ. In fact, Paul says that when we practice the Lord’s Supper we are actually proclaiming the Lord’s death (1 Cor. 11:26)! Finally, it is a way of saying in a symbolic manner that Christ is your nourishment.

The Lord’s Supper is wonderful time for the church body as a whole to show their unity in Christ. Each believer may have different opinions, but partaking in the Lord’s Supper is a way of saying, “We are all one under Christ!” And that is how it is worship. It is an act of submission, proclaiming, praise, and remembrance, all in one bite and one sip.

When we partake in the Lord’s Supper, we are told to do so in a “worthy manner”. Paul writes in 1 Cor. 11:27, “Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.” This means that only those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and follow him should partake in the Lord’s Supper. It also means that a person who is in blatant sin should also refrain from partaking in it.

For these reasons, I personally do not let my young children partake in the Lord’s Supper. A child will need to adequately demonstrate a changed heart and life under Jesus Christ before he should be able to partake in the Lord’s Supper (and baptism as well).

Will we as a church obey Christ? Will we come before him in worship and partake in the Lord’s Supper to honor and proclaim him?