The Efficacy of the Lord’s Supper

There was a point in time that being purposefully excluded from the “Lord’s Supper” was a meaningful punishment for believers who sin.

I’ve never heard of anyone losing the opportunity to partake of the meal for any reason in any of the churches I’ve been involved with. I wonder, though, is that punishment at all effective anymore?

If not, I conjecture that it is due to what I see as a fundamental difference between New Testament Lord’s Suppers and those of the contemporary church:

What was once an intimate remembrance meal among believers has become overwhelmingly ritualized. Likewise, the elements which are meant to represent the flesh and blood of the Son of God have been reduced to a tiny wafer and half an ounce of grace juice.

The more I think about this, the more it bothers me. Am I right to be annoyed by something like this?

6 thoughts on “The Efficacy of the Lord’s Supper”

  1. Rick,

    I think the problem you’ve identified lies more with the treatment of the Lord’s Supper by the particular church (and with our own view of it), and less with the elements. It’s only in recent years that I’ve seen this presented clearly as an activity for believers – and believers only:

    – Participation is mandatory for Christians
    – Self examination is required, with the confession of sin, before participation
    – Sin (or a “bad week”) is never an excuse to skip participation, as that entirely avoids the point of substitutionary atonement
    – Unbelievers are never to partake, as this is a declaration of oneness with Christ, and participation as an unbeliever is making a false claim for Christ

    Having the importance and symbolism outlined before each taking of the Lord’s Table has helped turn what used to be a boring event for me into a meaningful event – I can now joyfully act in obedience to Christ.


  2. Ryan: I wholeheartedly agree with your points, and I’m not denying that many churches, at least most of the handful I’ve been involved with, do bring those points to light.

    None of those things, in my mind, excuse the use of commercialized bags of wafers and the like. He seemed none too pleased when His temple was commercialized; how much more should we guard that which represents not only His presence but His body?

  3. True … we use Wonderbread, I think. Costco grape juice in disposable plastic cups (sorry Greenies). AND a clear declaration that there is nothing special about the bread and juice – that they don’t become something else, but remain bread and juice acting as symbols to remind us of Christ’s death and the new covenant.

  4. My church sounds very simimlar to RFK’s. It’s not irreverent, but really in memory of Christ’s sacrifice and in reflection of our dependence on him, nothing more fancy than that. I think it’s good to have full meals together sometimes as well. We’ve had dinner with a short talk instead of church a couple of times and often hang out for dinner after church. I think wafers or supermarket bread are about practicality… It’s a bit easier to have an intimate meal with 12 or 13 than with 50 or more.

  5. I had meant to include this in the previous comment, but was out of time last night when writing.

    We have a monthly “Fellowship Lunch” at our church which is essentially a giant potluck followed by the Lord’s Supper. Beyond that, we’ll meet for the Lord’s Supper again on another Sunday during the month during our evening service.

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