Communion and Reaching Up (4 of 4)

Communion can point guests upward toward God in powerful and creative ways.

Communion can point guests upward toward God in powerful and creative ways.

When I was 14 years old, I came to Eastside Christian Church for the first time. After the message, communion was passed out, the lights were dimmed, and we were invited to meditate on what Jesus had done for us and express our thoughts about it through prayer. I had never "experienced" the message of communion before, and it happened simply because Communion was presented to me....differently.

One of the epiphanies I've had about communion in my adult life is how important it is to be creative with it. 

One of the reasons why churches don't celebrate the Lord's Supper regularly is because they don't want it to become rote or meaningless. Really? Do you have a sermon every week? Do you sing songs every week? Do you take an offering every week? Have they become meaningless because you do them weekly? If your answer is no, it's because so much attention is given to your messages and your music so that they are never meaningless or routine.

Because I believe communion exists to tell the story of the gospel, our best creativity and energy should come to bear on how we enjoy it together and use it point our guests upward toward God. 

The most creative communion service I ever attended was in the campos of rural Chile. They brought in a sheep that was going to be served as dinner for the entire church that evening. While the words of Isaiah 53 were read, the sheep was slaughtered right in front of us. Isaiah's words about Jesus being silent before his accusers like a sheep is before its shearers were hauntingly powerful as we did not hear so much as a bleat out of that sheep the entire time as its throat was shaved and then cut. After the blood was drained in a bowl, herbs and spices were added and the church got in line with spoons to sip it with bread. I was the first in line to experience "the blood of the lamb", literally. Once it was cooked, we enjoyed dinner. 

Yep, really happened.

Because I believe communion exists to tell the story of the gospel, our best creativity and energy should come to bear on how we enjoy it together and use it point our guests upward toward God. 

In my next post, I will share the 4 characteristics that a church must possess before I could be assimilated into it (5 years of thought culminating in a short post!). In the mean time, stir up creativity around your guest's experience of communion with these idea starters that point them upward toward God.

Communion ideas for reaching up

Communion ideas for reaching up

1. An Exchanged Life. Explain Galatians 2:20 as a "life exchange": "I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me." Invite the church, including your guests, to experience an exchanged life by coming to any station to retrieve the cup and the bread by a full length mirror. Once they all have it in there hands, say "Friends, you have been crucified with Christ and you no longer live but Christ lives in you (have them pause to eat and drink). The life you now live this week, live it by faith in the Son of God who loves you, and gave himself for you. He is now risen in you". 

2. A Worship Song. Sometimes we feel that the Communion Meal breaks up the service in a way that interrupts the flow of worship. In that case, pass it communion during a worship song and take it just before the bridge or another part of it that would elevate the power of God's love, mercy, forgiveness or sacrifice. Watch how the participation in worship increases in light of communion, versus decreasing. Don't pick a song that talks about communion, just pick a worship song that centers around praise for who God is and what He's done ( Ex: 10,000 Reasons, This is Amazing Grace, etc.).

3. A Common Meal. This idea is both outward and upward in focusShare how in the Middle East, people didn't just eat with anyone. Why? Because they believed that if they shared in the life of an animal together, that life bound them together as it sustained all who ate it. You did not want this bond with "just anyone". When Jesus ate that last meal with his followers, he was saying that he was the Life that would now bind them together. He would sustain them by his death just like the death of an animal produces life and energy for the one who eats it. Note that "Communion" comes from the same word as "Community" does. Invite everyone to eat and drink it together saying, "This is the blood & body of Jesus that was shed and broken for you. Eat it and may he be resurrected in you, making you all one". Have them welcome each other and watch what happens. including with your guests.

Remember just like with singing and applying the sermon:  invite them to participate but don't require them to.

  • Referencing the idea starters, what new ways can you identify for using this meal to help your guests "reach up" to God in your services?
  • If you were with me in the rural Chile, would you have knowingly attended that communion service? Would you have fully participated with a spoon? 
  • Share a time of communion where you experienced God in a powerful way. What happened? Why did it help you connect with God like it did? Would it help guests at your church connect with God if you were to take communion with them similarly?
Greg CurtisComment