I have four reasons why I believe the Lord’s Supper should not be taken privately by families, but instead reserved for the local congregation.[1] These reasons regard the meaning, function, purpose, and example of the Lord’s Supper. The seven primary texts which I draw these principles from are as follows: Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:17-20; Acts 2:42-46; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11:34.

First, the meaning of the Lord’s Supper is ecclesial. Communion is by definition something enjoyed by a congregation. Paul recognizes this in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. The Corinthians got many things wrong about the Lord’s Supper, but one thing they did not get wrong is that it is for the gathering of the local church. Paul admonishes them to continue this practice, only now with reverence (vv.33-34; cf. vv.17-18). The context is also clearly ecclesial (see vv.2-16 and 12:1-31). Luke also notes that the Lord’s Supper was understood as an ecclesial event (Acts 20:7). To administer the Lord’s Supper outside of the context of a local church makes no sense, because the supper itself is a congregational meal. The Lord’s Supper is ontologically ecclesial.

Second, the function of the Lord’s Supper is as an ordinance. Christ gave the ordinance to the Apostles (Matthew 26:26-28; Mark 14:22-24; Luke 22:17-20), them being the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20), in order that they would instruct local churches to administer and enjoy it properly (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26), as is evident from the beginning of the church (Acts 2:46, note “together”). The Lord’s Supper reflects a congregation’s unity around the single sacrifice which redeems them from their sins, and thus the Supper is directly tied to how a local church functions as one body (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). The Lord’s Supper is pragmatically ecclesial.

Third, the purpose of the Lord’s Supper requires a congregation. The Supper is given towards the end that we affirm one another’s faith, preach the Gospel to one another, and together remember Christ’s death. The purpose of the Lord’s Supper is impossible to fulfill in private, the end towards which it works dealing with the local church and not the home (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). The Supper signifies a local church’s (not a family’s) unity in Christ (10:16-17) and so is a “pledge of loyalty.”[2] The Lord’s Supper is teleologically ecclesial.

Fourth, the examples of the Lord’s Supper in Scripture exclude strictly familial contexts. Being as I have labored to articulate four positive points, this fifth negative point is hardly an argument from silence. Where do families alone enjoy Communion in the New Testament? To do as Christ and the Apostles exemplified, requires we abstain from familial Communion. Keep the church ordinance a church ordinance. The Lord’s Supper is historically ecclesial.

There are many ways to direct one’s family to Christ. For example, just because your family shouldn’t partake of the Lord’s Supper alone does not mean you should not gather together regularly to seek Christ. By all means, be about such things! Only give due reverence to how Christ desires His local church to be conducted. The Lord’s Supper is a special meal reserved for Christ’s local church.

[1] This has application to any practice of the Lord’s Supper outside of the ecclesial context, including Passover reenactments and wedding ceremonies.

[2] Charles Spurgeon, from Till He Come, quoted in Rediscovering Daily Graces by Robert Elmer, Navpress: 2006.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s