One of the best aspects of our current 31-week series, “The Story,” is the every-week observance of Communion. It has been a delight to return to the cross week after week, remembering and proclaiming our Lord’s death (1 Cor 11:26). Better yet, because our elementary children are in our service during this time, several parents have had the exciting privilege of leading their children to faith in Christ as a result of our weekly engagement in the Lord’s Supper. It appears the family conversations that stem from Communion are prompting the right kind of questions that lead to repentance and faith. For this we praise God!
However, perhaps some parents, still nervous about their child and an incredibly small cup of juice, wonder if there are some guidelines to help them as they sort out the best way to include their kids in Communion. “After all,” they might ask, “what if my kids don’t understand Communion yet? Should they partake?” These and other questions are legitimate, and so we recommend a few practical pointers for First Family families who wish to make the most of their kids and Communion.
1. Lay good groundwork early. Use the drive to church, or the few minutes before the service, to talk about what is coming up, its significance, and the protocol at FFC. And don’t feel bad for repeating yourself; reviewing is one of the cornerstones of genuine learning.
2. Explain the non-negotiable: It is for believers. So if your child isn’t yet a Christian, simply explain this to them, and have them either 1) wait in their seat if they’re an older child, or 2) go with you calmly without receiving the elements if they’re a younger child. You are not being mean, but simply obedient. And your obedience could breed questions that perhaps God will use to bring conviction unto salvation.
3. Expect correct participation. For families with believing children, model and mandate the appropriate way to engage in corporate Communion. It’s not a snack time, nor is it a laughing matter; it’s not a race or a show. It’s a time of remembrance and proclamation of the cross, and our approach and response should be centered in these two words. The Apostle Paul demanded we not take the elements “in an unworthy manner,” so remind your children of this all-important heart issue and instruct them to show their attitude accordingly. (And yes, I said ‘mandate’ on purpose; this is not a time for dad or mom to ‘suggest’.)
4. Pray for them. One of the best ways to encourage the right attitude is to pray for it. That’s right – once you have the elements, place an arm around your child(ren) and pray for them – and yourself — in a whisper. This way you both hear, but it’s not disturbing to others around you. You have the time to do this while the musicians are finishing up their song of reflection and meditation, so take advantage of it and pray with your kid(s). Specifically, confess your sins. Express your love to God and them. Pray for others. Thank God for His salvation. This kind of genuine intercession will go a long way in getting everyone in your family ready to partake. And even if they’re not able to partake yet, prayer is one of the ways to still include them without violating scriptural directives.
5. Take it with them, not just in front of them. Again, for families with believing children, take the time to assist your children verbally and visually. Get on their (eye) level, and show them how to follow along with the pastor and congregation as they eat the cracker and drink the juice. Even feel free to talk them through it, using words you are confident they understand to explain what each element means.
All in all, intentionality is the essential ingredient for families who wish to make Communion more than a rote ritual for them and their children. And this means you have to start planning, talking, and preparing for each week’s observance in advance. When that’s your overall mindset, Communion will explode with meaning and life for you and your kids.
NOTE: This brief article has not attempted to explain or explore the theological aspects of Communion; it is simply an effort to help parents with the practical side of dealing with smaller children during Communion.