It is our normal practice to take communion together on the first Sunday of every month. As we take the bread and the juice which are symbolic of our Savior’s sacrificed body and shed blood, we are spiritually nourished both individually and collectively. We are reminded of our great need and how that need was wonderfully met at the cross of Christ. We do so reverently, solemnly, and most certainly joyfully. Our faith is fortified, our souls satisfied, and our minds prepared to face whatever challenges might lay ahead. At the same time, our church family is built up as we take the elements side by side and see that we are together a people that has been both made right with God, and united to each other as his adopted family. This is one of the great gifts that Christ has given for the good of his church.
Here are at Bethany we take communion in the physical presence of the gathered local body of Christ. It is important that we do that together. In 1 Corinthians 11, the Apostle Paul mentions multiple times that taking the Lord’s supper is something that happens when the church is gathered together. Normally, that is exactly what we would do. But there is nothing normal about this time that we find ourselves in. Out of obedience to the government that God has established (Dan 2:21; Rom 13:1-7), and a desire to love our neighbors by following guidelines that keep them safe, we have temporarily agreed not to physically gather.
So What Does that Mean for Communion?
Some gospel loving, biblically faithful churches have decided to not only suspend their regular services, but also the practice of participating in the Lord’s Supper. They sight references they believe make it clear that the elements should only be taken in the physical presence of the rest of the local church body. Others have decided that, while it may not be ideal, the church can take communion remotely for at least three reasons: 1) believers are spiritually united in Christ, 2) there is precedent for breaking bread in homes (Acts 2:42-47), and 3) the Lord himself often defied religious norms (Matt. 12:1-8; Luke 13:10-17). These churches believe that in uncertain and trying times, continuing to take the elements, even if in the virtual presence of others, is an important and powerful reminder of the hope that is found in Christ.
After much prayer, careful examination of Scripture, I have a deeper respect and appreciation for the discernment of pastors on both sides of this issue. However, I believe that we can be faithful to Scripture and do what is good for God’s people by encouraging our members to take communion together through virtual Life Group meetings.
How to Lead Virtual Communion
- Have individuals or households prepare elements for themselves in advance. Bread and grape juice are ideal. If possible avoid using other arbitrary items such as chips, soft drinks, coffee, etc..
- Select a member of your Life Group to lead. As a priesthood of believers who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, any gospel believing Christ follower who is living in faithful obedience to God’s word can do this.
- Have someone read aloud Luke 22:7-20.
- Spend time in prayer and reflection. Encourage participants to privately confess sin and thank God for the forgiveness that is found in Christ.
- Have someone pray over the bread which represents the gift of Christ’s body. Take the bread together.
- Have someone pray over the juice which represents the new covenant that Christians have in Christ’s blood. Take the juice together.
- Have the leader close in a prayer of thanksgiving or have a time of open prayer in which multiple members of your group pray.