Not Having Communion “Too Often”

eucharistIn many Christian traditions, the Eucharist is celebrated at least weekly. Fundamentalists, on the other hand, celebrate the Lord’s table with about the same frequency that they change their oil.

The basic idea behind these long spaces of time is the notion that having the Lord’s Supper too often will remove the specialness of it and cause Christians to treat it with the same flippancy as everything else they do during a normal church service. It is unclear whether the frequent repetition of other activities such as offerings, sermons, or telling your children you love them also makes them mundane and unappreciated.

There is some variance between different fundy churches in this matter. The frequency can vary between monthly, quarterly, bi-annually, and “Whenever the Pastor feels the Spirit move and gets a hankering for matzah and Welch’s.” Who needs all that self-examination and remembrance anyway?

If you believe that saying grace over every meal (including the bag of popcorn you consume while watching The Sound of Music) is always meaningful but also think that having Communion once a week will trivialize its practice — you might be a fundamentalist.

30 thoughts on “Not Having Communion “Too Often””

  1. Always bugged me. Still does. Then again, I’m still stuck with it. (for now)
    It is messed up though, how it’s looked upon as something we “don’t need to do that often.” Despite it being Scriptural (Mark 14:24 and 1 Cor 11:24 TR [yes the TR]), it’s still avoided, as it is seen to be Roman Catholic influenced to do such! Since ya know, the RCC apparently came up with this whole fandangled idea…or not quite. 🙂

  2. Well put! Somehow taking weekly offerings didn’t detract from the “specialness” of it. Weekly communion, along with the self-examination, confession of sin, and assurance of pardon, definitely rates as one of the things I love best about the church I go to now!

  3. It never really bothered me…

    Maybe because I’m a horrible Christian and don’t pray before I eat, right after I wake up in the morning, or right before I go to sleep, etc.
    (I’m not attacking people who do this, only the belief that these things are necessary for my salvation. I write my prayers in my journal.)

    This could also be caused by preachers wanting to recycle their sermons. We have communion monthly and he themes the message for that day around it. I bring a notebook and take notes, so I know he recycles a lot of stuff. If he did that every week more people would notice.

  4. In the church I grew up in, we usually paired communion with “feet washing” afterwards. Talk about awkward. Was that just a southern thing?

    1. For about 2 years, I was a member of a Grace Brethren church. Foot-washing was part of our communion service. My understanding is that this is common to all Grace Brethren churches. (I don’t know about other Brethren.) But it was in Texas. We only had communion quarterly, and it was always Saturday evening. But that makes sense, since just communion, without a regular church service, took three hours.

      BTW, we had several BJU grads on staff at the church and the christian school.

      1. I always felt guilty because I didn’t want to be like Peter who was rebuked by Jesus for not wanting Him to wash his feet, but I cannot imagine letting anyone touch my feet! I’m a very private person. This was a useful and needful activity in first century Palestine, but if I went to a church where I was expected to participate in this today, I would totally freak out!

  5. How about not understanding Communion as covenant renewal? This is a total non concept in IFB circles.

    Bravo, Lizzy F. Writing your prayers in a journal is a great idea.

    1. What, Randy? What do you mean by covenant renewal? Taking communion is to be done “In remembrance of Me (Jesus).”

  6. I keep a prayer journal sometimes, especially if I’m going through a struggle.

    Does it really matter how often a church has communion? I don’t know how many churches do this, but after the sermon and before communion, my pastor always explains from the Bible the importance of communion. I learned a lot that I never knew about how serious communion is. I’ve never heard that it was done infrequently for a specific reason.

  7. I think the main reason is not wanting to be like the Catholics.

    ding ding ding!!! We have a winner!

  8. Anyone know where this trend started? Obviously, the tendency to avoid being like Catholics in every respect possible is especially pronounced in fundyland, but Communion was still a huge deal to the Reformers and the churches they started.

    1. Started with the Anabaptist movement on the heels of the reformation. Once it was a symbol, there was no point, as the ‘remembrance’ could be had simply from reading the words; the act became meaningless to people, so they quit doing it.

    2. I had a Lutheran pastor (whose church does it weekly) explain to me that someone once asked Martin Luther how many times a year a Christian needed to take communion. He said something to the effect that if you didn’t take it at least four times a year, (when Lutheran churches generally offered it every week) you weren’t making an effort to be there. Some Lutherans apparently read Martin Luther the way some IFBs read the Bible, because they said, “Martin Luther said four times a year, so that’s how often the church should do it!”

  9. I love how they “take the Bible literally”, except when it says “wine”, in which case exegetic acrobatics must be performed to render the meaning of “wine” as “grape juice”.

  10. Woo my PCA church that had communion every week… you know, like it was… important or something…

    That’s one thing I loved about Mass. The Eucharist was the centerpiece of the service, just like Christ’s sacrifice is the center of our worship. Imagine my shock when I found that a lot of Protestants treat it the same way!

    1. UH, Catholics think they the priest converts the wafers and juice to the real body and blood and that is totally WRONG and they think they get special graces by taking it, so the Catholic way of doing/believing about communion are as different as night and day to the way protestants do it.

  11. I am very surprised that some Baptists only take communion once a year at a special service. The fundy church in my town had a special Tuesday night service for communion. I think they had it on Tuesday so that no stray outsiders might be tempted to attend that night’s service.

  12. I attended a church where the pastor only allowed communion once or twice a year for that very reason. He chose to offer it on New Year’s Eve at midnight, and on “Resurrection” Sunday (can’t say Easter there) at the evening service.

  13. The churches I attended had the same attitude towards the Lord’s Supper Queen Elizabeth I had towards bathing; They did it once a month, wether they needed it or not.

  14. I grew up in a “quarterly” church and hated communion Sundays. We were always told that we could not take communion lightly, that we needed to be right with God or we should not partake. It was a time of obsessive conscience searching, shame, and fear, and I dreaded it?

    Where was the gospel of grace in that? Like WE could ever do anything to “get right with God.” 🙄 Communion is supposed to be a symbol of what Jesus did to set things right between us and God. It’s a symbol of God’s gift of grace to us, not a threat of punishment.

    I am now in a church that serves communion every service from an open table, with a short personal prayer of blessing from the server. I would not dream of passing up any opportunity to receive this gift from God. We practice the priesthood of all believers so I am sometimes privileged to serve and pray. God is good!

    1. At the church I went to the pastor would say that if you weren’t tithing properly, praying enough, reading your bible enough, witnessing enough, being in church enough etc. etc., you shouldn’t partake in the Lord’s Supper. Of course all of this was said right before communion. Gee thanks. I guess I can go home now, right?

    2. Faith, I totally relate to the first two paragraphs of your post, a perfect example of how fundy churches bring dread into something that is a good thing! Every time I remember how my x fundy pastor used to ram that guilt thing about examining yourself like you were going to drop dead or something if a small sin was left unconfessed. Then when all the stuff people had against him and many other things came to light it made it more unreal that he acted that way. He also taught that only Pastors could dole out communion that you couldn’t just do it any time with a couple of believers on your own, like it was wrong to do that.

  15. At my fundy church, communion is only done once a year, which I dislike and wish it was done more, but I think one reason it is done so infrequently is because of the size of the church. When we do communion, it takes forever to pass out everything.

  16. We’ve started spontaneously taking communion in our home whenever wine and bread are available and the Spirit prompts. We love taking it with friends, even if we’re just hanging out casually. We’ve found that it helps to refocus our time together. It doesn’t mean that everything we say or do afterwards is super spiritual (D&D, anyone? :wink:) but we love how it completely changes the atmosphere of our fellowship.

  17. The Ordinance of Communion or Love Feast as it was called given to the Church carries with it a conditional Blessing! 😆 How do we know this? When it was abused the consequences of that abuse listed in the Scriptures included Believers dying. 😥

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