Should children be part of the Lord’s Supper?
We believe that children are full members of God’s kingdom. We baptise children as we welcome them as full members of our church family. With that in mind we really shouldn’t be withholding this other sacrament from them. The Creek Road board agrees with this, and has opened the way to invite our children back in from Kids Church from time to time so that we can join as families – and a whole church family – to participate in the Lord’s Supper together. Celebrating this together is a great picture of God’s family. Young, old. Married, single. Adults, kids. All together celebrating what Jesus has done and how he brings us together as family.
The Bible is also clear that parents have the primary responsibility for discipling their children. As a church family we don’t want to deprive parents of this great gospel opportunity to chat to their kids about why we do the Lord’s supper, and what it reminds us all of. The decision concerning which children might participate in the Lord’s Supper is one for parents/carers of the children to consider. Many of us can remember trusting in Jesus from a young age. If you believe your child can participate in the Lord’s Supper as an expression of our faith in Jesus, then you should feel welcome to invite your child to eat the Lord’s Supper.
Let the Children Teach Us…
In all of this let us not diminish what children teach all of us. In the book of Matthew, we see this passage:
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
Jesus says children have something to teach us. They teach us total reliance. They teach us how we should come before God. They teach us that greatness in God’s kingdom comes from adopting the lowly position of a child before God and come to him with empty hands. Empty hands open to receive the blessing of Jesus. Let’s learn from our children as we celebrate the Lord’s supper together.
Share a Meal
In the early church the Lord’s Supper was always done over a meal. A quick look at 1 Corinthians 11 will tell you that. It was the church family sharing a meal and remembering Jesus as they eat & drink. At Creek Road we want to move towards this. To reclaim the meal as a way of joyfully celebrating Jesus together as a church family. So the way we do it this time will just be the first step as we work towards celebrating the Lord’s Supper over a meal in future terms.
How do we explain this to our kids?
Consider how children, just as they grow up into understanding “love” or “forgiveness,” might also grow up into their faith in Jesus and with that an understanding of the Lord’s Supper. Children, indeed, played a special role in the Old Testament Passover (see Exodus 12:26) so it would be unusual for us not to include then in the greater meal of the Lord’s Supper in some way, nurturing their growing faith in Jesus.
The points below are adapted from some helpful publications from the Christian Reformed Church in North America. These points may help you explain the Lord’s Supper in a helpful way depending on their age and development. As children’s faith develops…
- Pre-schoolers: experience the Lord’s Supper as part of their worship experience, mimicking their parent’s faith— just as they do when they fold their hands in prayer, raise their hands in praise, or turn the pages of a Bible storybook.
- 5-6 year olds: understand that the bread and the juice remind us of Jesus’ body and blood and the celebration of the Lord’s Supper reminds us that Jesus died on a cross and forgives our sins.
- 7-8 year olds: experience the Lord’s Supper as a reminder of Jesus’ death and resurrection and understand that the celebration of the Lord’s Supper is something that God’s family does together as a way of remembering Jesus’ gift of forgiveness.
- 9-10 year olds: continue to deepen their understanding that the bread and the juice are reminders of Jesus’ body and blood given through his death on the cross. They’re beginning to understand metaphors and symbols and can be more thoughtful in their experience of the sacrament.
- Young Teens: are able to use metaphors and understand symbolism. Cognitively, many young teens have most of the same tools adults do to understand the richness of the sacrament.
And here is a short video that might also be helpful:
Dear Heavenly Father
We come before you as your precious, loved little children, thanking you for salvation through the broken body and shed blood of Jesus our Lord and Saviour. Thank you that he gathers us up in his arms as empty-handed little children, filling our hearts with his love. Thank you that he gave us this special symbolic meal of the Lord’s Supper as a way to celebrate your grace together. We pray that as we all taste the bread and the juice we would be feeding our souls with the gospel of Jesus and be nourished and satisfied by the Spirit of Jesus, growing in our faith. We pray this for our whole church family regardless of age – that together, as little children of yours, we will all be strengthened in our faith through this celebration. In Jesus’ name and the power of your Spirit we pray. Amen.