Blog Navigation

Should my child take communion?

It was a service I’ll never forget. The senior pastor of the church where we were visiting had just led us through communion in a unique, reflective way and was now closing out the service in prayer. I silently nodded my head to the pastor’s ‘amen,’ and slowly opened my eyes expecting to remain tranquil for a few minutes as the worship team played softly—you know, the way it usually happens after communion. Not today. Instead of tranquility, my jaw fell open like a tailgate smacking down. I could hardly believe my eyes. Five young boys—roughly 8-10 in age—had just returned from children’s ministry, and on hearing the pastor’s amen, they rushed the stage, circled around the leftover communion trays and started pounding back grape juice ‘shooters’ as fast as they possibly could. Then, one of them made a move for the crackers, which erupted into a flurried scuffle as the boys pushed and vied to see who could grab the largest handful and shove it into his mouth. I was aghast, to say the least! Moments ago, I had eaten those elements… as representations of Christ! These boys knew nothing of communion protocol, (or even table manners for that matter!) all they knew was they were hungry, and this was the only snack they were going to get until their parents quit chatting, took them home and served some dinner. 

I have often laughed when the image of that day wanders into my mind—those silly boys! Yet the humor of the story offers a helpful teaching point when it comes to communion, or really any of the core practices of our faith. Faith is an apprenticeship. We learn by watching others and then participating. Although these boys attended church regularly, they were in children’s ministry, where they had never seen, nor been a part of communion. They didn’t even know what they were disrespecting. 

This might seem odd coming from a children’s pastor. Are they saying we shouldn’t put our kids into children’s ministry? Let me put it this way. Children’s ministry has a very important place in faith formation. It is a great avenue to teach children some of the ‘what’s’ in our faith. It also puts children into a relationship with other Christ-followers who support and reinforce the teaching parents and caregivers are trying to implement with their kids. Children’s ministry is wonderful. But it isn’t everything. It has its limitations. It’s supposed to! Kids aren’t supposed to stay in children’s ministry forever, they are supposed to grow into their roles as active, important members of the body of Christ. To do this well, they need to be apprenticed—to experience and try out some of what that looks like. They need a “Come, let me show you how it’s done.” 

Sometimes families ask why we do not hold communion in children’s ministry. Communion is a marker of the church—it is for all who say, “Jesus is my King.” This is one time we can cut through all our divisions of ages and stages and come together as the body of Christ. We want parents and guardians to be the ones doing the modeling for their children, and deciding when is the right time to start. 

But how do I know if my child is ready? The following illustration from Eugene Peterson has helped me as I think about this with my own children. One of his grown sons approached him one Sunday to say that he was worried about his kids taking communion because he didn’t think they really understood it. “You’re worried they don’t understand it?” Eugene replied, “I don’t really understand it… But we’re still commanded to celebrate it, no?”

Our goal is to be a resource as you journey through faith milestones with your children. Check out our recommendations on explaining communion and preparing them for their first time!

Is my child ready?

There is no set age for communion. Parents can prayerfully decide this by asking themselves a few questions in regards to each child: 

Do they profess faith in Jesus?

Are they showing fruit and evidence of conversion through obedience to and love for Jesus?

Are they able to grasp the significance of communion?

How do I explain communion to my child?

We recommend parents take some time to talk through the why’s and how’s of communion before you invite your children to participate with you.

WHY we celebrate communion:

    Before Jesus died on the cross for you and me, he celebrated the meal of Passover with his followers. Passover is the time when the Israelites remember and celebrate how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 1-15). In particular, the Israelites were meant to remember the 10th plague that God brought on the Egyptians. In order to be saved from death, each family who followed the Lord killed a lamb and put its blood on the doorframes of their houses so that when the Angel of the Lord passed over their house the firstborn would not be put to death. When Jesus ate this meal with his followers, he did something a little different at the meal, he took the bread and broke it and said to his followers, “this is my body given for you”. He took the wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.” What Jesus was saying to his followers is that he was going to become the Passover lamb, he was going to be beaten and killed so that the whole world could be saved. 

    On that night communion began. Ever since that night followers of Jesus have gathered to remember what Jesus has done for them. (See 1 Corinthians 11)

HOW we celebrate communion: 

When we drink the cup and eat the bread we remind ourselves of the following: 

We remember Jesus took the punishment for our sins and became the Passover lamb to save us. We can thank him for the ways he has saved and blessed us.

Just like our bodies need food and drink, taking communion reminds us that we need Jesus every day! We need him to keep saving us from our selfishness and to give us the strength to live for him. 

Taking communion says “I choose to live Jesus’ way! He is my King and I will follow Him as best as I can.”

This means we allow the Holy Spirit to search our hearts to see if we need to ask God’s forgiveness for anything or need to ask forgiveness from other people.

Tips on helping your child take communion for the first time:

Plan for it. Since at CrossRoads we hold communion on the first Sunday of every month you can plan when and how often to bring your children in the service with you.

Sit near the front. This will give you more time to explain and talk about the process with them with the elements in hand, and it’s harder to pay attention when you cannot see! 

Have confidence.  It is okay to talk during the whole experience, even if those around you are quiet. Be respectful of those around you, but know that explaining things to our kids is an important part of church! 

> As they hold the bread and the cup ask them to think about the following:

-Have them ask the Holy Spirit to search their hearts to see if they need to ask forgiveness to God for anything or need to ask forgiveness from other people. 

- After they have taken time to reflect with the Holy Spirit ask them if they have anything to share with you that they need to make right. (It is always great for you to share with them too!)

- Finally, pray together and thank Jesus for what he has done, and tell Him where you need him to help you for the coming week.

Categories: Life With The Littles