Baptist Distinctives Day 4: Two Ordinances

Rather than having multiple sacraments Baptists hold to “ordinances” of which there are only two: baptism and communion. Both of these are held by Baptists to be purely symbolic in nature and contain no efficacy whatsoever. Just because they’re symbolic, however, doesn’t mean that they’re not worth spilling gallons of ink (and possibly blood) over.

The qualifications of a candidate for baptism are a pretty straightforward affair in fundyland. You have to be at least old enough to repeat the sinner’s prayer more or less intelligibly after a Sunday School teacher and you have to be willing to take the risk on getting water up your nose if the pastor’s handkerchief hand slips. Although baptism is considered an act of obedience, to a Baptist, getting dunked under water serves mainly as a testimony to the community that the person is publicly professing his faith. The fact that nobody in the Bible ever appears to have had this motivation for being baptized doesn’t bother them in the least.

Like baptism, the Lord’s Supper is also a completely symbolic affair — the only difference being that if you screw around with it, God may very well up and kill you. Seriously. Perhaps it’s this mortal danger (or perhaps it’s just that it takes away from the amount of time the pastor has to preach) but communion doesn’t happen all that frequently in fundyland. After all we wouldn’t want to remember Christ’s sacrifice too often. That kind of frequent ritual is reserved for things like praying a blessing over every Snickers bar and bag of potato chips.

In reality, the list of two ordinances is far from complete. There are a plethora of other observances in fundamentalism that may not make it onto the official list but are are required all the same. These include Church Attendance, Tithing, The Praising of The Pastor, and Sewing Your Own Jean Jumpers (with bedazzlers!) and so on.

Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man.

195 thoughts on “Baptist Distinctives Day 4: Two Ordinances”

  1. While it may not be ultra-Biblical, I am glad that most IFB churches in America use individual cups for The Lord’s Supper. I always was more scared that more would be sickly among us, and more would sleep from using a common cup rather than having our hearts right from sin. Of course, you didn’t have the option of turning it down as an MK if you happened into a church which used it, because that could affect your family’s support level. (What didn’t?)

    1. I hear you on that. I’m the last germophobe on the planet, but people drinking directly from a shared chalice just seems like a horrible idea.

    2. I love the common chalice. I guess for me it’s an act of faith. People in my church who are sick always take communion by intinction (giving the wafer to the chalice minister who dips it in the wine and places it on their tongue). And, you are dealing with wine, of course, which is alcohol and kills microbes. I don’t know of anyone in our church who has become sick from drinking from the common chalice.

      Those individual cups may seem safer, but in the sense of community, it gives a different message in terms of unity.

      1. For you an act of faith. For me an act of common sense. I am smart enough not to drink after someone who is sick, or a lot of someones. And alcohol in the form of wine or beer does not contain enough “alcohol” to kill germs, so that’s out. All this to say that I don’t partake when there’s a communal cup. Especially after the time I sat through a service behind a gentlemen who hacked and sneezed and coughed all through the service then was in the communion line right ahead of me. I declined the Eucharist and just accepted a blessing instead (this was in an Episcopal church).

        1. Actually, tests have been done showing that the risk of communicable disease is neglible. I always take the chalice – the wine is port (running at about 17%), and the chalice itself is silver, which is also anti-bacterial.

        2. It literally just happened a few weeks ago. I think in the Northeast @ an Episcopal, they all got some communicable disease through communion. I think it was due to the preparers, not a sick person. It may be rare, but it happens.

        1. Might improve attendance. Cue the music to “First Baptist Bar and Grill” by Tim Wilson.

        2. “Vodka isnรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt wine.”
          … but grape juice is. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

          Ok, brandy, then. It’s made from grapes.

        3. Greg, even if there aren’t germs in the precious blood, there’s still no guarantee that there’s no germs on the chalice itself. But I’m getting way too serious here. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  2. The first time I took communion at my Presbyterian church was this amazingly positive experience. One of my husband’s friends asked me to explain what I meant a little better so I said it was happy, I wasn’t scared the whole time and sniveling in a corner praying that God wouldn’t kill me and trying to mentally check off every sin I committed that I could think of to confess. Now, it’s referred to as the family meal and we have lunch afterward. It’s a great time!

  3. I’ve learned here at this site that I am not the only one in the world who experienced mortal terror during communion as a child. That’s been invaluable to me.

    1. Oh yeah. . I remember many sleepless nights as a kid, after I had taken communion that day. I would later remember the mog’s stern warning about people who died because they had forgotten to confess a sin before communion. Inevitably a sin would come to mind, causing great terror. . .

      1. That is disturbing!! Who would willingly subject their child to that kind of terrorism?

      2. I swear I sat with the unleaven paste cube in my mouth scared to swallow it! I was never sure if it would be an instantaneous death or if I’d have to sweat it out. Those pesky unconfessed sins! My joy in communion came from an Anglican influence. Waiting for it…nope still here ๐Ÿ˜€

    2. Terror? I remember it well. Now I can’t understand what the big deal is over some glorified memory aid.

    3. The last time I took communion in church was over 20 years ago and I still remember it. I had been dating a guy who was NOT a fundy baptist and we were therefore “unequally yoked” a fact that I had been worrying about and being convicted over. (In my defense, there weren’t a lot of single guys in my church and most of them really weren’t that dateable for one reason or another.) Our pastor has just gotten done with the “taking communion unworthily” speech (same one he used first sunday of every month) and I had a massive panic attack (sad to say, the first of many in my life). I just knew that if I took communion God would reach down and strike me dead that very minute. The next communion sunday was the same thing, another panic attack, and the next and the next. Bottom line, I have not been able to take communion in any church since that day. I know what I’m feeling is BS, that God’s love is bigger than my fears. But those fears are, sadly overwhelming. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ

      1. I had no idea that fundy churches surrounded Communion with so much fear. It’s so awful! Especially the speech about “If you take it unworthily you’re gonna DIEEEEE.” It’s the most peaceful, serene moment in our (Anglican) weekly service and the weekly pre-Communion speech is, “All who have been baptized are welcome at the Lord’s table, and if you wish to receive a blessing instead of the wafer and wine or want your child to do so, come on up with everybody else.” Not our business why So-and-so isn’t taking the wafer and wine. And you’re not supposed to look anyway.

        1. In my church, the minister presiding at communion simply makes a statement that all are welcome to the Lord’s table. That’s it. Nothing about who deserves it and who doesn’t. It’s not given because we deserve it; it’s given because God is good.

      2. I used to have the same fears. But my (non-fundy) pastor now explains that our “worthiness” in taking the Lord’s Supper has nothing to do with us, and everything to do with Christ. We come to the Lord’s table BECAUSE we are unworthy sinners gratefully enjoying what Christ has already purchased for us.

        1. Jesus said that a well person doesn’t need a doctor, and so a well person wouldn’t need the medicine of communion, either, it seems to me.

  4. Wait a minute! I’ve always been told us Baptists don’t take “communion”! “Communion’ is for catholics! ๐Ÿ˜ฏ We take “the Lord’s supper”, thank you very much! ๐Ÿ˜›

      1. True! I always thought that too! We’ve just gone to giving out larger pieces of bread (not unleavened, but that would take too long to explain) and a fuller dixie cup of juice. It’s still a snack but more than the pill-sized bit of cracker we used to partake of.

        1. An unsalted “saltine” cracker would be closer to the item but Matzos is easy to find and is the “bread” Jesus used. ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. …ever taste one of those crackers that had spoiled?? :::shudder:::

        1. Yes! My non-IF Baptist church still uses the same cheap grape juice and nasty crackers, and I had one recently that was a bit more nasty than usual. Blech!

    1. Huzzah! ๐Ÿ˜€
      While I was young enough to get away with it, I’d sneak to the back with the other young kids after the service where the lil’ old ladies would be putting things away, washing the plates, etc. They’d give us the leftover juice and crackers. That’s one happy memory I have of the Lord’s Supper in Fundyland.

      1. I remember, like it was yesterday, when I saw the Welch’s grape juice bottle when I was a kid, and thinking, “So… Jesus’ blood is Welch’s grape juice?”

  5. then there was the time the deaconess forgot to taste the half gallon of “wine” that had been left over from the previous Lord’s Supper. Whoa! It had magically become real wine! My parents didn’t like my joke very much “April was not a good year”

  6. I always loved communion and was upset that we didn’t have it more often. I would have been happy to celebrate it every Sunday but we were lucky if we got it once every three months.

    That was one reason I became Catholic. Every Sunday…every day if you want. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Even two times a day if you want it!! (though I think that’s the limit, even for priests).

      I keep telling myself that once I have my baby I am going to try and attend daily Mass, but I also know that the likelihood of that happening is incredibly small (something about babies needing a lot of time and attention…or something. :D)

      1. Ask your priest. I’m not RC, but from what I’ve heard, if you’re willing to come to daily Mass, most priests are very understanding about crying infants and small children.

        1. Of course priests are understanding of crying infants. Aren’t Catholic families well known for being rather large as it is? ๐Ÿ˜‰

        2. I, for one, rejoice at the sound of screaming children in Church… but only when it’s not one of mine. I think to myself “finally! the rage of the communicants can be directed at some other lousy dad.”

        1. That’s not a bad idea; though honestly I was just thinking of the sleep factor! ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Personally, I think it should be done every Sunday as part of the service.

          Just my 2 cents.

          Carry on.

      2. In the Orthodox Church, we confirm our babies at baptism, so they start taking Holy Communion at about the age of 40 days. I’m not sure if Eastern Rite Catholics do the same thing, but I think they do. After having your baby, see if you can’t get him/her an Eastern Rite baptism, then you can hit daily mass and both get communion ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. Reader Mo, I knew that Orthodox babies get their first communion at baptism. But that makes me wonder: surely some (most) of these babies are not yet to the solid-food-eating stage? How do they handle the communion wafer? Is there any precaution to keep the baby from choking on it?

        2. Big Gary- we use leavened bread (no wafers) and we break it up into the chalice and everyone receives with a spoon. So babies generally just get a drop The Blood in their mouth (or, in the case of babies who decide to take a nap at that moment, on their lips.)

          Infant baptisms are a real treat for fundy relatives. They get to watch in horror as their (grandchild/nephew/etc.) gets fully submerged in water thrice, and then gets (what appears to be) wine fed to them with a spoon. All this while being offended that we believe that baptism and communion actually DO something… ๐Ÿ˜†

    2. Shoot, one church I attended only had communion ONCE a year, at best, twice. Always at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and maybe “Resurection Sunday” in the evening service. Talk about feeling deprived.

  7. Darrell, that’s one of the snarkiest blog entries you’ve written.

    And all of it is true.

  8. Even as a real little kid I thought the grape juice was just plain silly – Jesus wasn’t drinking Welch’s and no one could possibly get a buzz out of one of those tiny cups.

  9. Darrel – A post on communion and no mention of the quiet, humble organ meandering around hymns of the 1930’s in the background. “I went to the Garden alone, and the dew was fresh on the hillside…

    1. Oh man – THIS!!! I absolutely feel VIOLENT when that organ starts in with that tremolo warbling. It’s like bein’ in a funeral parlor. ๐Ÿ˜ˆ

      1. Recently, I was at a funeral led by the local Methodist minister and musicians, though it was held at my church because it’s larger. Let me tell you, the Methodist organist played our crappy electric organ in a way that actually sounded good.

        The next Sunday, our usual organist was back, and so was the warbly “funeral style” organ. I wonder if what we call “funeral organ music” might be more aptly named “Craptist organ music,” since not all funeral music is anywhere near that bad… ๐Ÿ™„

        1. Now, now, please have mercy on the pipe organ. Just because you grew up with some Baptist screwup who provided one-foot-in-the-grave funeral home music on an old electronic, please give it a second chance (a/k/a visit a big Episcopal church). Really, there is no comparing Baptist organ playing with the real thing, a sound of incredible grandeur and glory, with not a hint of the funeral home.

        2. @Closet Lutheran

          Don’t worry, I love some good pipe organ music. At college, I went to a Presbyterian church that had a blended service, where the pipe organ was used either solo or with the piano and band. Their organist was really good, but I’ve sometimes wondered why it seems that all of the best organ music is written by Catholics… ๐Ÿ˜ณ

        3. I absolutely agree – there IS nothing quite like a pipe organ played in all it’s grandeur – in fact, my best friend in high school – the son of an indy-fundy pastor – would sneak down to an episcopalian church to rock out with Bach on their sweet pipe organ. Let’s face it, your local IFB rarely has anything better than a crappy toaster when it comes to the organ, and the organist usually makes the cast of the Lawrence Welk show look incredible.

    2. I can imagine that clearly! For years now, as the pianist, I’ve played the piano during communion (once a month at our church). I usually try to pick songs about the cross. One I do sometimes is “Via Dolarosa.” The last couple months, we’ve been playing this during communion:

      It’s a bit shocking for me to have CCM playing in the background during communion, but it is beautiful and it does direct our thoughts to Christ’s sacrifice.

    3. Oh, there could be a whole other posting on music that accompanies and follows communion. The two that immediately come to mind are, “There Is A Fountain” and “Bless Be The Tie”

      1. We always sang “Hallelujah! What a Savior” after every communion growing up.

        1. We always sing “Till the Storm Passes O’er”: don’t ask me why. But it’s my favorite part. And sitting with my giant 11-12 person family and all filing down together XD

      2. Blest Be The Tie That Binds! That was played every communion sunday by our pastor’s wife on a vibrophone. You think listening to wavering organ solos is bad, try a jazz instrument being put to fundy purposes. :mrgreen:

        1. ditto, excepts we’d all hold hands, even joining up across the aisle to sing Blessed Be the Tie that Binds like a bunch of Whos from The Grinch story. Only time I got to hold hands with my boyfriend even though my dad would glare at me.

        2. And, you know, the men HATED holding hands with each other.

          Don’t want anyone to think they butter their bread on the other side, you know. ๐Ÿ™„

  10. This has got to be one of my favorite posts. These ordinances dont mean much, but screw it up or forget to confess every single sin that you have ever committed and God will smite you down.

  11. There is nothing like trying to time the piano with the passing of the plates. I always have to do the reliable “1st verse, chorus, repeat chorus”. I remember one time when I thought I had enough time to repeat the entire song. Who knew that Mr. Applewhite would choose that day to walk faster?!

    One time, Mr. Peg Jackson skipped an entire row of people with the crackers, but not with the juice. I was the only one who noticed, other than the people in the row, and so I was madly trying to signal him from the piano. Well, he didn’t see it and so that whole row had no crackers but they did have grape juice. It was a catastrophe. But, I guess it was God’s way of telling them to get their hearts right before they could take part.

    And, I always get forgotten during the Lord’s Supper. Once, I went two years without it. I guess it’s hard to remember to walk it over to the piano. Sometimes, I bring my own crackers and grape juice just so I can be sure to take part. I mean, I know that taking part doesn’t affect my salvation in any way, but I don’t want to miss out on anything God might have for me.

    1. ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh, yes! I relate to trying to time the music perfectly and wondering if there was enough time to replay the whole song or just the chorus. Also, even though I was playing, I tried to be in a meditative frame of mind, but sometimes it was hard to when I was worried that they’d forget me. They almost always remembered thankfully, but sometimes not until the last minute. One usher would immediately come to the piano first before starting down the aisle. Then I didn’t have to worry. Although recently, an usher put the tiny piece of cracker on the edge of the cover that goes over the keys. The cracker immediately slid down out of reach and inside the piano! He and I had a hard time controlling our laughter!

      1. Now I feel silly for responding seriously to CMG but it really is hard to time the music just right!

        1. no nee to feel silly. Though I don’t play, for some reason it has always been an important point for me…the musicians and child care workers…even when I was young. Wierd ๐Ÿ˜•

  12. Outstanding post.

    Like some of the other commenters, I always wanted more grapejuice. But I also wanted more “Lord’s supper bread,” as we called it. My mom made a huge batch for every monthly Lord’s supper service and kept it refrigerated in Tupperware, meaning it was this fantastic, cool, moist, doughy confection. I wound up looking forward to the Lord’s supper not just for the teeny little bit of mystery I managed to feel in a Baptist church, but because I got the leftovers. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Then our church started ordering prefab bread from Thomas Nelson Publishers, of all people. It was like eating tiny squares of folded-up paper. Don’t buy food from a book publisher.

    1. “Donรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt buy food from a book publisher”

      Wisdom for the ages! LOL! :mrgreen:

  13. At Temple Baptist Church in TN they have a huge auditorium with good acoustics.
    While I was in college there I would always listen when we had been given the signal to eat the bread. The sound of hundreds of people crunching that little piece of bread at once was bizarre.

    1. I was always waiting for someone to drop that BIG tray of little cups full of juice.

      1. To this day, I still get nervous when the platter full of juice shots are passed in front of me – I’m not known for being graceful, and it’s just a matter of time before I end up wearing them. Can you believe how stressful this would be if my church embraced Transubstantiation??? ๐Ÿ˜ณ

        1. Pardon me while I attempt to hold back fits of laughter at work over the “juice shots”… ๐Ÿ˜†

  14. I am not sure if I am the only one who did this during communion but my goal during grape juice time was to get that MIDDLE cup in the direct centre of the plate holder thingy.
    When I did I kind of gave a “touchdown fist pump” and a “Yessss!”.
    Am I the only one? :mrgreen:

    1. Drives me nuts when people don’t take cups from the outside. I would never take the middle first.

      Now I’m the pastor and sitting up front, so I don’t have to see how all the rabble take the cups from the middle, all willy nilly. ๐Ÿ™„

    2. I had forgotten about doing this! Yes! Me and my brother almost got into a fistfight over who got the middle one once. Needless to say this greatly embarrassed our dad, the pastor.

  15. I’m a back row christian. Now I know why the MIDDLE cup holder is always empty by the time it gets to me. ๐Ÿ™

    1. Oh no! St. Patrick’s Day green piano? We’re going Catholic for sure! There was a fuss in our church when the new minister wore a robe over his business suit. And then somebody donated a pair of candlesticks. (At least we didn’t have an acolyte. One of the deacons would walk up during the organ prelude and strike match to them.) Next, for sure we’d be turning in our hymnals to page 666! Oh my, green piano. Might as well hold services in a brothel.

  16. I can’t stop staring at the picture of the lady getting baptized in the little communion cup. Brilliant! We are going to try that this Sunday.

  17. It was regularly claimed that baptism was a sign of allegiance to one’s local church: “In baptism, you are saying that this is MY church and MY pastor and I belong here.”

    Only the briefest mention was made of its symbolism of death-to-life, through Christ’s death and resurrection.

      1. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this quiet often. The church I pastor practiced this prior to my time here. Their version was “if you hadn’t been baptized in a BAPTIST church you must be re-baptized (amen) as identification with Baptist doctrine.”

        Needless to say, we got rid of that really quick.

        1. Because of churches who think their way or even their tank is the only right one, my wife has been baptized FIVE TIMES. When we were considering joining the Anglican Church, she said, “If I have to get baptized again, forget it!”

    1. This statement was so shocking that I forgot to breathe. HOW can anyone say this with a straight face? Gah!

  18. I’m am 30-something years old. In every Lord’s Supper service I’ve ever attended (as nearly as I can recall), the pastor called for every one to examine themselves carefully (I Cor. 11:27,28) for any unconfessed sin so as not to be “unworthy”. Sometimes, the preacher would name your sins for you like not going soulwinning enough, not tithing enough, etc.

    I read that passage carefully recently several times, utilized some helps, and then realized the actual context. The Corinthians were combining the Lord’s Supper with a meal/feast. Some people showed up drunk; some became drunk; some ate; some didn’t have anything to eat and were ignored. In other words, they weren’t taking it seriously, weren’t focusing on Christ and were ignoring the needy. THAT is what caused some to partake unworthily.

    I realized that most of the Lord’s Supper services I’ve ever been in, I’ve focused more on myself and whether or not I’d confessed enough instead on what Jesus already accomplished for me on my behalf, and that I’m already accepted in the Beloved, and that God already sees me as forgiven because of Jesus. IOW, it was all about me instead of Jesus.

    Abusive religion at its finest.

    1. I’m right there with you. I discovered this one for myself, as it seems you have as well.

      The text says “Unworthily.” That an adverb, modifying a verb, how the Lord’s Table was being taken. Not a adjective, modifying a noun, there were unworthy people taking the Lord’s Table.

      We are all unworthy people. That’s the point.

    2. The Catholic mass (communion service) includes the prayer, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word, and I shall be healed.” The whole point is that the Lord’s Supper is given even though we are not worthy. “While we were yet sinners ..”

      Or, as one of my favorite hymns goes, “If you tarry ’til you’re better, you will never come at all … The only fitness he requireth is to feel your need of him.”

      1. When I was in college, the priest at the church I attended liked to tell us about when he was little and he whispered to his dad very loudly, “What’s the word?!”

    3. This was a HUGE struggle for me as well, and usually led to me being “sick” on the communion nights or otherwise getting out of taking it because I was terrified to take it as an IFBer. I have OCD and I could never feel “clean enough” inside to be worthy, as I was taught. Now I take communion every week at my church, and it is wonderful to be free of that fear.

    4. JessB, I’m right with you. It was not until one year after college when I was reading through the Pauline epistles with my 6th graders that I finally understood the context of what Paul was writing about communion. He wasn’t saying that if you came to the table and forgot to confess you took a paperclip from work or that you had angry thoughts about your mother, you were in danger of mortal illness. He was correcting and dealing with egregious sins within the Corinthian church, particularly that Communion was being used as a means of class warfare within the church body. It’s a very different thing that what’s presented at most fundy churches. Like you, I was completely liberated to focus on the work of Christ for me rather than trying to create a laundry list of all the ways I might’ve sinned since the last Communion. Suddenly, it truly became a celebration for me.

    5. We don’t need to be righteous to receive mercy; we need only cry, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” I said it before, and I’ll say it again:

      Every Sunday in my old church, the pastor would beg and plead for people to come to the altar and sacrifice themselves for Christ. Every Sunday in my new church, everyone comes to the altar with solemn joy and receives the Body and Blood of Christ, which He sacrificed once for all of us.

    6. My experience was the same. After I married a man who taught me to read the Bible in context and let it speak for itself, I started doubting the รขโ‚ฌล“examine yourselvesรขโ‚ฌย interpretation of my IFB pastors. I, too, sought some commentaries on the issue and was overjoyed that I could be free of all the guilt at every (albeit infrequent) Lordรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs Supper. Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and I still feel fear every month when I see the communion plates sitting at the back of our evangelical church. Thankfully, the pastorรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs assurances that Christ welcomes us to the table help, but I think it will be a while before I FEEL welcome.

  19. I get major righteous indignation when I hear of pastors who require re-baptism when someone joins their church! Baptism isn’t about joining your local Baptists-only club!

    1. It has to do with not believing in the efficacy of baptism, I guess– or that its efficacy is not permanent. Or maybe the pastor assumes he’s the only one who does it right.
      It seems ironic that a church would be called “Baptist” if the people in it believe that Baptism doesn’t matter, or that it has to be done in just the right church in order to “work.”

      In most churches, baptism is the one sacrament that can be done by anyone. It’s usually performed by ordained ministers, but in a pinch, any believer is empowered to baptise.

      1. As far as I understand it, in transubstantiation only the substance ( is transformed and not the accidents

        Not that Aristotelean categories are all that straight forward, but growing up I would always hear that Catholics believe that the bread and wine, literally become the body and blood of Christ. And how ridiculous it was for them to believe that. Clearly, the molecular structure doesn’t change. Turns out the “literally” we thought Catholics believed was our straw man against transubstantiation.

        1. You’re right, it’s supposed to be an infusion of spiritual essence, not a molecular alteration.

        2. When I was confirmed Lutheran (what a long, strange spiritual journey I’ve taken) I asked the pastor about this. I’m okay with understanding that I don’t understand in exactly what sense the bread and wine become the body and blood, (it’s a mystery, after all) but did I have to believe they stopped being bread and wine? He said no.

        3. Papabear, I believe this is the biggest diff between Anglicans/Lutherans/Orthodox and Roman Catholics. We believe Christ is present that it is his body and blood just as he says and we leave it at that. The Roman church went on to define it down to the nth degree and created the doctrine of transubstantiation. This is what my Russian Orthodox friend calls “Roman scholasticism”. Some things are best left undefined and just accepted, imho.

    2. My husband and I visited a church that made baptism in a Baptist church a membership requirement. My husband grew up in independent Bible churches, so they would have re-baptized him. Needless to say, we attended there only that one time.

  20. Brilliant. I am so glad to hear your stories of terror at the Lord’s Supper. I trembled in fear at the thought of drinking damnation upon myself for all the sins I had forgotten to confess. We only had it 4 times a year but I still skipped it most of the time out of fear. (I sinned a lot!!!) Now my church has communion every Sunday and I love it. It’s the best part of the service because it is to remember the heart of the gospel. Man, if I haven’t said so lately, let me say it loudly, “It’s sooooo good to be out of the IFB mess.”

    1. I have another memory about the Lord’s Supper that just came to me that I want to ask you all about: I remember that my uncle who was also a deacon would take the leftover crackers home and bury them. I also remember in that particular church, some people had a weird hangup about discarding worn out Bibles. I seem to remember when I was really young they had a special service where they buried several Bibles. I knew a preacher in our communty who collected worn out Bibles and buried them on his farm. But back to the Lord’s Supper, I think a different family would be responsible every time for buying the supplies for communion. If your family bought the welch’s, you got to take home the leftovers. It was delicious! I guess the leftover symbolic blood isn’t as holy as the leftover symblolic body. Weird, man. Weird.

      1. Catholic practice requires all the elements (the bread and wine) that have been consecrated for communion to be consumed– the priest eats and drinks all the leftovers, and if there’s a lot left over, he may ask other people in the church to help consume some of it. I believe there are also provisions for otherwise disposing respectfully of “leftovers” (maybe burial?), but I’ve never seen it done.
        But Catholics subscribe to transubstantiation– that the bread and wine become literally the body and blood of Christ. If something is literally Christ’s body and blood, you don’t just throw it in the trash (although eating it seems pretty bizarre to the unitiated, I know).
        Most Protestant churches hold that the bread and wine are only symbols of Christ’s body and blood. As we Methodists say, “It is the outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace.” As such, it’s not important what you do with extra symbols.
        The same would apply to Bibles. God’s word is holy, but the paper and ink used to print the word is just paper and ink. It’s good not to confuse the two.

        1. In churches with sacramental Eucharistic practices leftover wine may be consumed or it is poured out onto the ground. In some churches they build a special sink called a piscina, the drain from the piscina goes directly into the ground. (It is also the practice to dispose of the water used in the baptismal font with the same practice.)

          Practice for the disposal or the reservation of the consecrated host vary among liturgical churches. Often the consecrated host is kept in the Tabernacle which is in the Sanctuary (both distinct liturgical furnishing in the altar area) this host is then taken to shut-ins or the sick. This distribution is often done by a Deacon who cannot consecrate the elements himself.

        2. I know there was once some kind of debate about the status of mice that had broken into the Tabernacle and eaten some consecrated Hosts. Were the mice then consecrated? I wish I could remember the details.

        3. At my Anglican church, the altar guild do not even pour out the water down the drain used for the communion vessels because it is Christ’s blood and body. It must be poured out on the ground.

        4. @Susan, Phil, or anyone else,
          This has nothing to do with anything, but I’m crazy curious. I’m Canadian, and I’m wondering what they’d do with the leftover blood when the ground is frozen and/or snow covered? I’m picturing a piscina blocked by frozen blood in the pipe (or worse, not frozen, just stuck), or a big red patch in the snow out back. ๐Ÿ˜ฏ ๐Ÿ˜€

  21. I do remember one fear I had during communion. The big silver cup holder thingie that got passed around…I was always afraid I would drop it!

    1. I’ve had the same fear. However, in all my years of church-going through many different denominations, I’ve never seen it happen.

      …but there’s still time.

  22. One of my funniest communion memories: we had a baptismal service just before communion on this particular Sunday, and the tub (right behind the choir loft, of course) was being emptied during the communion service. But somebody left the baptistry mike on, and right when we got to the most solemn part of the service, when you can hear a pin drop, there came a giant SLURPPPP!!!! over the sound system.

  23. I say that Baptist suck the life out of the Lord’s Supper and Baptism because they deny that God gives his grace through them.

  24. We all know that communion is never complete until the Deacons fold the cloth that covers the elements!

  25. My old fundy pastor would “hide” the Lord’s supper until Sunday night, when the “real” faithful christians show up.

    1. greg, as I mentioned earlier, one pastor only got out the communion at midnight on New Year’s Eve – for the same reason. Only if you are a good Christian and show up every time the doors are open, busy in the work of the ministry to the detriment of your family and come to the Watchnight Service do you get communion.

  26. No crackers for us. We had white grocery store sandwich bread cut into 3/16 or 1/4 in cubes. Not even enough to call it a snack. And not even a thimble full of Welch’s.

      1. Isn’t it supposed to be (or they SAY it’s supposed to be) unleavened, and thus the reason for the ridiculous, tasteless pieces of saltless cracker (that’s what we had anyway).

        1. Yep, that’s what I’ve heard. When I was in a Methodist church we always had freshly baked leavened bread, and I was literally told that was breaking the Lord’s supper when I went to a fundy church, since the Last Supper had obviously been done with unleavened bread! This was the same church that even denied me entrance on Christmas Eve because they were taking communion–it was members only. Oh, my mom almost called the local news, she was so mad!

          In the last fundy church I went to we had these little cardboard wafers that were less than 1/8 inch thick that dissolved and stuck to the roof of your mouth. And I remember my now-husband baking crackers out of flour and water when we ran out of those because the church was too cheap to buy more. How much could those have cost, anyway?

        2. Presumably the Last Supper involved unleavened bread, because it was a Passover meal. However, I’ve seen communion with leavened bread in a lot of churches.

          I take it that Jesus meant we should remember him whenever we eat and drink, not just every Passover or every time we drink wine and eat unleavened bread.

          Back when I was in a church youth group (circa 1712), we were always agitating to have communion with pizza and Coke, on the grounds that they were more of a staple food and drink for us teenagers than unleavened crackers and grape juice were. We never did it, though, and now I can’t remember exactly why.

        3. We’d always had unleavened bread (or tiny hard crackers) as symbolism of the Passover and of Christ’s purity (leaven in OT=sin). But we’ve recently had someone bake a yummy fresh loaf because my husband wanted it to be less like taking a little pill like medicine and more like enjoying and celebrating what Christ did for us.

        4. Since the baptist communion is a symbolic ordinance, rather than a “heathen” sacrament, it does not matter what is used to symbolize the body and blood of christ. If I were in charge we’d have oreo cookies and milk!

  27. I love all the warnings before communion on how the whole exercise is only to remember, nothing special happening here. Wouldn’t want to be like them catholics and believe something special is going on. Oh, expcept that you might be smitten with some serious illness or death if you eat unworthily – which is never explained according to the context of Corinthians as having to do with not sharing with others but generally understood to mean things like whether or not I have watched an R rated movie this week, listened to popular music, or kissed my girlfriend.

    1. This is not just an IFB thing. I went to a Christian high school with a strong Pentecostal/charismatic leaning, and I heard it all the time there. They went all the way with it, too, saying that they wouldn’t be surprised if people started dropping dead in churches after communion, because the Lord was coming back soon, and He would be demanding more righteousness as the time came closer. No joke.

    2. Yes! “this means NOTHING! but if you do it wrong, you’ll DIE.” Right up there with “you must baptize this way or it’s WRONG! in fact, let’s call ourselves “Baptists”! Now remember, baptism means NOTHING!”

  28. My experience was the same. After I married a man who taught me to read the Bible in context and let it speak for itself, I started doubting the “examine yourselves” interpretation of my IFB pastors. I, too, sought some commentaries on the issue and was overjoyed that I could be free of all the guilt at every (albeit infrequent) Lord’s Supper. Unfortunately, old habits die hard, and I still feel fear every month when I see the communion plates sitting at the back of our evangelical church. Thankfully, the pastor’s assurances that Christ welcomes us to the table help, but I think it will be a while before I FEEL welcome.

  29. My (non-fundy) grandma once spilled the little cup of grape juice all down the front of her dress and mumbled something (probably not very church-like!) under her breath. She was so mad at the time, but we all laughed about it later. I still can’t help but laugh every time I take one of those little cups, just thinking about her. Hey, it’s hard to juggle passing the tray and grabbing that tiny cup at the same time! ๐Ÿ˜€

    1. My dad knew better than to let us kids handle it. He’d hold it in front of us for us to take a cup and then hand it to the deacon passing it. As an adult, I preferred letting my husband hold it too. (As youth pastor, he could officiate OR pass the elements – the former was the pastor’s role, the latter the deacons.)

    2. I was always afraid I’d drop the tray . . . hold it with one hand and grab the juice? My friend and I would plan out who would hold it with two hands (and pass it) and the other one would get two cups.

  30. It is a good thing Baptists don’t drink wine at communion, because they would have major problems. The KJV says in Matthew 26:27 to “drink ye all of it.”

  31. From my days @ PCC. I assume this is still true there, and no idea if it’s true elsewhere or not.

    PCC does not have cup holders and just has you hold the cups and throw in the trash on the way out, which could easily be 10 to 15 mins later if Schettler decided he needed to do a second sermon on the fly. But people would crack the cups. I suspect it started as mostly accidents, or expression of impatience, but it drove administration & Schettler *in-sane*. Would spend a good 2 minutes lecturing everyone to *NOT* crack your cups, and just exaggerate how much you would notice it, and I’m sure would exponentially multiply the number of cracked cups in the DHA.

    SFL: creating a problem (no cup holders = cracked cups), and then blaming everyone but the ones that created it (administration decision to not have holders). Have always wondered if they had the same problem (and lecture) elsewhere?

    1. The plastic Communion cups are bad enough — my church uses them, and I think they’re really cheesy — but the idea of holding the cups and then openly disposing of them at the end of the service strikes me as downright sacrilegous. It’s barely different from going to McDonald’s and unceremoniously dumping your trash in the waste bin on the way out.

      Talk about tacky. But then, fundamentalism is nothing if not tacky . . .

      1. I think it’s a basic philosophical difference in nature of what the juice is.

        The fundamentalist (and indeed almost all Baptists) would say that that the juice in the cup is no different than the juice in the bottle in your fridge at home. It’s a symbol, nothing more. Therefore there would be no reason to give any special handling to the communion cups.

        It’s also just sheer practicality. Do you want the job of washing 300 tiny communion cups every time you have it? ๐Ÿ˜ฏ

        1. I vaguely remember glass cups at some point in my youth. It was a small church, and yes, someone washed all of those little cups.

      2. I remember thinking that too. It felt very tacky to me throwing away plastic cup on your way out.

        I think Darrell’s got a point comes from over emphasis on the solely symbolic nature, the grape juice is nothing more than the medium selected to represent in the symbolic ordinance containing no inherent value, and is treated as such. I’ll give PCC this, if memory serves they actually unleavened bread of some sort or other instead of those standard tube sock flavored pieces of chalk/cracker, which I liked the idea of a lot. Could be a faulty memory and was somewhere else, but I think that was PCC.

        I’m still curious if anywhere beside PCC had not only cup cracking, but there was a several fold multiplication of the cup cracking by people who didn’t appreciate being lectured and wanted to stick it to them.

        Have used on rare occasion glass communion cups. Felt sorry for the person washing them if they don’t have a dish washer (been so long it seemed unlikely at the time).

        1. “There was a several fold multiplication of the cup cracking by people who didnรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt appreciate being lectured and wanted to stick it to them.” – Unfortunately, this is not the spirit in which people should leave the Lord’s Table. What a shame that a shared acknowledgement of God’s grace didn’t cause an outflowing of love and tolerance toward one another, all flawed and guilty sinners equally forgiven because of the blood of Christ.

          I do understand the helpless position of the students who are tired of being lectured at as if they were children and passive-aggressively respond in one of the few ways allowed. Perhaps the administration should have prayed for extra love and patience as they put up with the inevitable cup cracking.

    2. In my youth, every communion I saw used small, individual glass cups, which were arranged in special round trays with a little cavity for each cup. Yes, somebody had to wash them all after church. However, there was no trash for the communicants to dispose of after partaking. There were little holders on the back of each pew to place the empty cup after you drank. There was also a special tool for filling the cups, which rather fascinated me. It was a blown glass tube with a pointed end and a round end, and a hole in each end. You’d put the pointed end down into the wine or grape juice, then put your thumb over the hole in the round end, then lift the tube out and put the pointed end in one of the little glasses, and lift your thumb so the juice would flow out into the glass. Repeat, and repeat, and repeat.
      It seems all the churches where I’ve been to communion in the last 3 decades or so have used a common chalice (people walk up to the chalice instead of taking communion in the pews– those who can’t walk or stand have it brought to them). Therefore, I missed the shift to fast-food-style containers. I don’t think I’ve ever taken communion from a plastic cup.

      The history, or at least the legends, of the Middle Ages would have been quite different if, instead of seeking the Holy Grail, the Knights of the Round Table had gone on quests for the Holy Disposable Plastic Cup. It just isn’t the same, somehow.

      1. Oh, that brings back another memory. There was this special bottle the last fundy church thought that was so great for preparing communion. You poured the grape juice, never wine, into the bottle and then you SQUEEZED the bottle to fill the cups! It was kind of like aiming a Super Soaker at a thimble. Only grape juice stains everything it touches, unlike water. It was easier just to pour the juice straight into the cups from the original container.

      2. I was raised Roman Catholic, so I had to ask a Baptist friend what the holes in the pew racks were for. He said, “They’re for the old people to stick their fingers into to help them stand up.” ๐Ÿ˜†

    3. Aww you beat me to it. I commented on the PCC cracking cups below, didn’t realize there was a thread here.

      1. As far as I know that is unique to PCC. I still assume it started as a series of accidental cup cracks from having to hold it for 15 mins, that once the administration decided to start lecturing turned into a power play contest.

  32. I was at PCC the year they made the rule about not cracking the communion cups after taking the drink. Nothing like 3000 tiny plastic cups cracking at once to ruin the mood.

    1. I’m not sure if the communion cup rule was before or after my time because I don’t ever remember it, but it’s similar to the “It’s rude to cough while the preacher is speaking” rule that caused everyone to cough when a certain administrator approached the pulpit.

    1. I liked it! We’ve gone a lot more contemporary in our worship style and are dropping long familiar (to me) hymns or gospel songs with faulty theology or trite, dated tunes. Also our worship leader wasn’t brought up on hymns the way I was. I always like hearing hymns that can be done in a more “updated” way, because I do love the power of the words.

  33. Is the using of communion for manipulation (to induce guilt/fear) of the church with the goal of behavior modification a world-wide phenomenon in ‘evangelical’ churches?
    (wow that was wordy)

    If so, do you think it’s a matter of training/exposure to this approach… or is it just sin nature/religion that comes out whenever men start telling other men how to be right with God?

    Or possibly lack of education?? The church (and ‘denomination’) we’re in now has a history that is fairly independent of Western influence, and yet I’ve heard almost everything mentioned here as abuses of the Lord’s supper.

    My favorite is reading the Cor. 11 passage where it says God will punish physically, possibly even to the point of physical death so that the believer will NOT be judged with unbelievers… and then go right on to say “this is IMPORTANT, folks! Get the FEAR of GOD in you! You, too, dear brother, could go to HELL!!” โ“ ๐Ÿ˜ฏ โ“

  34. Oh, and this is The Communion Sunday Text:

    Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

    27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

    28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

    29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

    30For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people.

    31It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

    Yessir, that there is THE point of communion:


    Of course the context of the first 25 verses is completely ignored. ๐Ÿ˜•

  35. During my early days in fundyland I took communion very seriously. That is the whole examining yourself for any unconfessed sin.
    But over time as the pastor got more zealous (i.e. mean and yelling more) he turned it into the “if you are not doing everyhing we tell you such as tithing, being in church every time the doors are open, soul-winning every week, etc. then you shouldn’t even take communion.
    In other words, there was no way to confess your sins to be worthy to accept communion. I started to skip the “Lord’s Supper” after that. I mean, what’s the point if I can’t even be worthy enough.

    1. I’ve tried to explain it to my wife that the church at Corinth was being judged for the WAY they were taking communion, not the way they WERE taking communion…if you follow me.

      1. That’s a good way of putting it. I think that will help me every time the old “I hope I don’t die” fears come back.

  36. “After all we wouldnรขโ‚ฌโ„ขt want to remember Christรขโ‚ฌโ„ขs sacrifice too often. That kind of frequent ritual is reserved for things like praying a blessing over every Snickers bar and bag of potato chips.”

    There is no way to make that any funnier!

  37. I can’t help but feel for all the poor people who can’t enjoy communion the way my group does… it’s such an uplifting experience, I always feel like it’s my reset button before I have to face another week. I’ve come to tears before in the Sunday worship meeting when we take communion, but never because I was afraid or whatever, only because I was so overwhelmed.

    Thankfully, we do it every week; I honestly am not sure how I’d get through a week without having that pick-me-up on Sunday! It’s deeply emotional for me and I’m confident that it’s in line with how Christ intended for us to enjoy it.

  38. It’s fantastic for me to be able to contrast how my old fundy churches observed communion and baptism with how my current church does.

    Then: communion took up an entire service because we had to sit for 20 minutes prior to partaking, wracking our brains for any tiny sin we’d forgotten to confess. People actually left their seats to go apologize to other people for the smallest of offenses.
    Now: Pastor stands in the back with the cups and bread to bless and pray over anyone who comes back to accept it. ๐Ÿ˜€

    Then: my dad and his seminary classmates actually practiced baptizing each other in a baptism “class” to be sure that they knew the exact form and wording, should they ever perform the ritual (not that Baptists have rituals! ๐Ÿ˜‰ )
    Now: a friend of mine was recently baptized in a metal water trough outside the church building. He was baptized by Pastor, and then he immediately turned around to baptize his wife himself. Beautiful. ๐Ÿ˜€

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