Teaching your children about communion
The Lord’s Supper can be an amazing time of worship and reflection for your children. The key is to help them understand what’s happening before they are a part of communion. Kids experiencing the Lord’s Supper for the first time might be confused why they can or can’t participate or even why, as more than one young child has thought, the adults are having a snack time of juice and crackers in the middle of the service.
The Lord’s Supper is a time of personal introspection (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). But when we partake of the Lord’s Supper, we do so as a body of believers, communally. As one, we recognize Jesus’ sacrifice and what it means to us (1 Corinthians 11:26).
To help your children understand the Lord’s Supper better, here are some thoughts that you can share. By going over what the Lord’s Supper is and its meaning, your children will have a better appreciation for what’s going on.
What is communion or the Lord’s Supper?
Jesus chose to institute the Lord’s Supper during the last Passover He celebrated with His disciples. Passover is a yearly celebration during which Jews remember God’s deliverance of their nation from Egypt, and how the angel passed over those homes that had been marked with blood from a lamb. Jesus, through His actions at this supper, showed Himself to be that sacrificial lamb. As Jesus took the bread and shared it with His friends, He told them, “This is My body, which is given for you” (Luke 22:19). The bread represented, or as stated before, is a picture of the body of Jesus. It was not actually the body of Jesus. Jesus’ further command in Luke 22:19 was, “Do this in remembrance of Me.” Every time Christians celebrate the Lord’s Supper, it is important to help them know that the bread and cup are not the actual body and blood of Jesus but serve as reminders that Jesus gave up His life on the cross so that all people could have salvation.
Communion, or the Lord’s Supper, is a way for us to remember what Jesus did for us.
Communion is when we join together to remember how Jesus sacrificed for us by dying on the cross. Communion is also called the Lord’s Supper because we eat together at church just like Jesus did with His disciples the night before He died.
Jesus told us we should continue to eat this special meal of bread and wine (or grape juice) to always remember Him. The bread reminds us of Jesus’ body, and the wine reminds us of His blood. Jesus gave His body and His blood away when He died for our sins. He did this to take the punishment we all deserve so that we won’t have to be punished when we die, but will go to Heaven with Him. 1 Corinthians 11:26 tells us that as often as we eat of the bread and drink the cup, we proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes again. Be sure to explain that what we are doing is symbolic and not literal. We are not literally drinking Jesus’ blood and eating His body. Communion is not magical.
We should be very serious when we’re taking communion. It’s not a time to be silly or to talk to other people. It’s a time to pray and thank God for His love and for sending His Son Jesus for us. It’s a special time of worship and remembering.
Coach your child through the logistics and the spirit of taking communion. Communion is done differently at every church, so coach them on the proper way to receive and the proper time to partake of the bread and juice. Also, help and encourage them to be in the right mindset. 1 Corinthians 11 gives personal instructions for taking communion and tells a believer to “examine himself” before eating and drinking.
How to know if your child is ready to participate with communion?
The Lord’s Supper is a symbolic act of remembrance and requires proper mental understanding and meaningful spiritual reflection to hold significance. Waiting and holding off for understanding, maturity, significance, anticipation, and meaningful memories can be a good thing for your child. Because the decision of when to allow your children to participate in communion is one, every believing parent will and should wrestle with. In the Bible, there is no age of accountability or prescribed requirement. The only prerequisite is that the participant be a follower of Jesus Christ.
So when it comes to children, what is important and what must be determined by each parent for their own children is:
Do they place their faith in Jesus alone to forgive them and take them to heaven?
Are they showing fruit and evidence of conversion through obedience to and love for Jesus? Be careful. Never use this to get them to obey you. This is between them and God.
Do they understand and can they share why we practice communion?
The decision for when your child begins to take communication is ultimately yours and yours alone. Be prayerful about it. No one knows your child better than you, and when it comes to a decision like this, trust the Lord’s guidance and your discernment as a parent.