My church (my pastor) recently made the announcement that we would no longer be having communion on the first Sunday of every month, which has been the tradition for many, many years. He decided that we would now have communion on the first Sunday of every other month. Now, I’m far from critical of those who want to break with tradition! I’m all for it! But the thing that kicked me in the teeth in this decision is the motive behind it. The only explanation that I have heard as to why we’re changing our schedule and our tradition is that “we get the feeling that people don’t come to church on those days because we take communion and it just takes longer than normal. We want to see if attendance changes on those first-Sundays when we don’t have communion.”
You heard me right. We’re going to stop taking communion on the first Sunday of every other month because people don’t like it when the service gets too long.
One question: who are you here to please?
Let’s break this thing down, shall we?
- Christ blesses and offers the meal of bread and wine to his disciples as a symbolic act of placing his authority on them and bringing to a conclusion his ministry on the earth, but yet we’re willing to forego that significance because people want to get to lunch on time.
- Christ orders us to dine together with bread and wine in remembrance of the sacrifice that he made for our sins, but yet we delete that portion of our worship so that people aren’t forced to sacrifice any more of their Sunday afternoon football time.
Unfortunately for those who may actually do what we think they do, I pray earnestly for them to realize the importance of what they’re passing up. Paul puts it this way:
For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes. Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself ~1 Corinthians 11:27-29~
But let’s get back to the case at hand. How would you respond to this perceived trend? Would you stop having communion to entertain the idea that a shorter service might bring more people back? Would you sacrifice one of the most important sacraments of the Christian church in order to increase your numbers?
My idea is this. We should take this as a “teachable moment.” We should target those people who are apparently skipping communion and talk directly to them about the importance of it. We should start a new sermon series to discuss it with the whole church. By the off chance that this is not the reason these people are not coming to church, we should make every effore to ask them the real reason. And, in all purposes, we should seek to please God and his intentions for us instead of the intentions of the world. In my opinion, we should actually start doing communion more not less.
Our God gave us the courage to declare his Good News to you boldly, in spite of great opposition. So you can see we were not preaching with any deceit or impure motives or trickery. For we speak as messengers approved by God to be entrusted with the Good News. Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. ~1 Thessalonians 2:2b-4~
Pray for our church. Pray for our pastor. Pray for the people who are using selfish reasons to skip out on worship. Pray for those of us who want the best for this church community, but are confused by the intentions of those in highest leadership.
I would love to hear your comments.