Pastor Jeff VanGoethem
Last summer Karen and I made a quick trip up to the U.P. of Michigan to see my parents for a few days. While there I learned that one of the churches I pastored up that way many moons ago was having their annual church picnic at their usual spot, a nice Bible Camp facility on a beautiful lake. We decided that we would ride out that way on Sunday and spend the day with our old church friends – amazingly enough they had scheduled the church picnic at the same camp we used when we were with them thirty years ago. Church traditions die hard!
Even the program for the day was pretty much the same as I remembered it: worship service, baptisms in the lake, pot luck lunch and then an afternoon of visiting and activities, swimming and the like. During the worship service I noticed they had also retained yet another tradition that went back to our time there: observing the Lord’s supper together. I think it was about 1988 when we worked together as leaders of this church to implement weekly communion, which had been preceded by some biblical teaching and other discussions within the church. I felt good that they had faithfully retained this scriptural practice for all these many years.
It has been one year now since we began experimenting with weekly communion at Scofield Church. Our Elders had discussed it on and off over the last few years, and then last year we found ourselves bolstered by two things. First we started off the year (2017) with a couple of messages on pride and humility and we broke bread on both Sundays just to emphasize the importance of humbling ourselves and meeting with the Lord. We found this “double dose” of communion spiritually profitable. Second, as we discussed the question again, we were led to examine Dr. Mike Svigel’s excellent defense of the weekly practice of communion, which can be found here. There didn’t seem much left to discuss. So we decided we would make a schedule, get organized for weekly communion and press on. We have now completed a year doing so. What are the results?
1.) It has strengthened our commitment to following biblical teaching and practice. In these days of waning biblical authority we can feel glad and good that we are doing our best to follow the teaching of scripture and apostolic practice. I encourage each and every believer to look into it and be convinced that this is the right thing to do. The arguments against weekly observance are weak (see Svigel). Acts 20:7.
2.) It has highlighted the gospel. Each and every Sunday a precious explanation of the table is given out to the gathered congregation. Gospel truths are highlighted. The biblical texts exposited by our sermons are not ALWAYS narrowly focused on gospel truths, but every Sunday in our church, the gospel is preached in and through the practice of communion. 1Cor. 11:23-26.
3.) It has enhanced plural leadership. Communion does not have to be observed exactly the way we do it, but we decided that each of our Elders would lead the communion service in turn on Sundays. This has allowed all of our good and godly elders to be in front of the congregation explaining and teaching (in their own unique way and with their own unique passion) the meaning and purpose of communion, which fulfills part of their sacred obligation and responsibility. 1Cor. 11:2, 2Thes. 2:15.
4.) It has added something to our discipleship and spiritual growth. Each Sunday we remember the Lord and cultivate a sense of His presence in the observance of communion. It is participatory. I rejoice that each believer is called to remember the Lord and to be reminded of His precious grace each Sunday. 1Cor. 10:16-17.
5.) It has given glory to the Lord. Our worship service culminates with the observance of communion. The Lord is front and center each Sunday. The focus is on Him and what He has done for us. That is as it should be. Luke 22:19.
I am sure our observance of the Lord’s table is not perfect. We will continue to grow and learn relative to the meaning and practice of weekly communion. I certainly do not write this with any sense of pride in what we are doing, rather I write it with joy. For sure our decision to move to weekly communion has enhanced our worship and strengthened our church. I would certainly miss it now if we did not do it. I trust you feel the same way.
Please review these five simple points above — I hope you are rejoicing with me as you do.