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Communion & Young People

Posted on: February 5, 2009

Originally published on

The topic of Holy Communion/ The Lord’s Supper has been playing on my mind for a while now for several reasons and not entirely positively.

One young person remarked to me a while ago ‘Why do we have to go up (into church) for communion, it’s just for the adults’, this remark prompted agreement from the others in the group who didn’t see the point of communion.

Let’s set the scene though…the church these young people are part of is a Baptist church and in the baptist church communion is given out, so the minister will read the appropriate bible bits, break the bread and the deacons will serve the church members with the bread. After this the minister talks about the wine and the deacons distribute small cups (like shot glasses) to the congregation who keep them until a given moment when the whole church drinks as a sign of unity.

Now in theory there’s nothing wrong with this however if you don’t take communion turning down the bread/wine can seem tricky and not partaking can leave you feeling left out and so a young person taking communion for the first time may feel watched but equally by not taking it they may feel the same.

Over Christmas I attended midnight mass at St Andrew’s Church in Gorleston and I was reminded of the way the Anglicans do communion. In the Anglican church people go up, kneel down at the alter and the minister or a member of the lay team will serve the bread and wine, everyone drinks the wine from the same cup too!

If you don’t want to take communion you don’t hold your hands open and the minister will pray for you, children are often encouraged to kneel next to the adults taking communion and be prayed for, there’s no pressure about taking communion but at the same time the concept isn’t alien to them.

The way the Baptist church does communion (although some may do it very differently) risks alienating a generation of young people from communion. We risk bringing up children who don’t understand the meaning of communion and just see it as ‘something the adults do’, this saddens me because communion can be and should be a spiritual experience whether you take the bread and wine whether you receive a blessing.

So if anyone has any suggestions for how we can make it more relevant let me know! How does your church do communion?