Reformation in the church is a continuous process, at least it should be. Understanding and putting into practice Scripture is a life time pursuit for Christians and for the church. For several decades we have seen reformation in the areas of eschatology, grace, the covenants, church order, worship and other areas of importance. As I have surveyed the church’s landscape over the years I have been waiting for another reformation; a reformation of The Lord’s Table. For traditional denominational churches communion has found a comfortable place in the schedule of the church. Yet, within Pentecostal/charismatic churches communion has fallen on hard times, if not disregarded entirely.
The fresh waves of worship with emphasis upon freedom, spontaneity and worship bands is a true reformation in how we conduct our church services. With our sound systems, lights, even fog machines, church is exciting and filled with emotion. Yet, there is a cost to this ‘overly subjective’ form of worship. When we get used to a certain level of emotion, we want increasingly more. Then, the pastor announces, “Next week will be communion,” and people roll their eyes and make sarcastic remarks about ‘being religious.’ What is a Pastor to do? What many have done is postpone the communion service while cranking up the emotion to another level, while hoping to satisfy the congregation, at least for a while.
A reformation is needed as to how we understand and receive communion. If we see the Lord’s Table as a celebration of the King and his kingdom, maybe we will do it more often. When we see communion as the joy of experiencing the distinct presence of Jesus, churches may restore it to its proper place as a vital part of our worship service. Sadly, we have fallen into a religious trap. We maintain our communion services to be ‘sin focused,’ rather than a celebration of our new covenant life. We hold tight to these traditions even though most are no longer interested in them. Therefore, leaders skip a month or two, maybe five or six months before holding the congregation hostage to endure another communion service. There has been a slow demise in many Pentecostal/charismatic churches in coming to the Table of the Lord with any regularity.
I wrote Kingdom Communion to direct our attention back to basics and to look forward to the opportunities that receiving from the Lord’s Table offers. It is basic to our Christian faith. It helps the saints to mature. It brings churches closer together. The people of God experience his presence in a unique way. We experience a renewing of the covenant. Yet, it also has a rich kingdom dimension of reaching forward into possibilities not yet seen. Communion is more than remembering, it reaches into our future with Jesus and by faith brings heaven to earth. Remember, Jesus said he would wait until the kingdom came before he once again drank the cup with us (Mark 14:25). We are not waiting. The kingdom is here! Lift your cup to the Lord and proclaim, “Hail to the King.”
We are living in the day of the kingdom. Communion in the kingdom is our present experience. The problem many churches have is the lack of kingdom understanding of the Lord’s Table. We have separated the communion table from our normal worship. We pray every Sunday, we sing every Sunday, we preach every Sunday and we take an offering every Sunday. What we fail miserably at is regularly celebrating the kingdom by coming to the Lord’s Table.
Have we downgraded our communion service? Yes, I believe we have. Here is a partial list of how our communion service has suffered and suggestions for a remedy.
*We misread 1 Corinthians 11. We concentrate on ‘personal sin’ and judgment if an unworthy person partakes. The main issue was the church’s profound selfishness which brought about division in the church.
*We think communion is only about the death of Jesus. It is not. It is a comprehensive service rejoicing in all aspects of Christ’s ministry, including his kingship and kingdom.
*We maintain an atmosphere of a funeral. How about a communion service which is a celebration? Think of a wedding.
*We keep our children far from the Lord’s Table. How about allowing covenant children to partake and experience the presence of Jesus in the communion.
*We hold to the doctrine of ‘memorialism’ which reduces communion to mere remembering. There is a real presence of Jesus at his table.
When taken in combination, it is no wonder that church leaders keep postponing the communion service. Reforming the Lord’s Table will balance our ‘subjective’ approach to worship and add a dose ‘objectivity’ to it. What is lacking in many worship services is any sense of intellectual or objective worship.
We are in days of Reformation. God is restoring fresh understanding of the kingdom and new covenant living. Let’s continue to see the church reformed. It is time to make changes, it is time to include communion as a regular part of our worship service. It was in the New Testament church and it can be now.
Churches that serve communion every Sunday find that people respond to it. In our hearts, we know it is right. A Sunday service which concludes with communion sends the church out with a fresh encounter of the presence of Jesus and a renewed sense of God’s covenant. Let’s celebrate the King! Come to the Table of the Lord.
When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat (1 Corinthians 11:20).
This book will be released in April 2017 by Vision Publishing.