Below is a resource I use at the beginning of each quarter of Lifegroups, letting leaders know why we celebrate communion and how we celebrate communion at Soma. If this is helpful take it and pass it on, use it for your own community groups! Commission
Welcome to Life Group: Communion
For week one of life group we are going to be doing communion. In fact our entire life group this week will be centered on communion. Because communion is such an important part of our lives as Christians, I want to clear a few things up about why we do it and how we will be doing it this week. There are a few key passages that are often used during communion, for instance 1 Corinthians 11:17-33 and Mark 14:22-25. In going through these we learn that communion or The Lord’s Supper isn’t something that was “invented” by the Church. It was a practice instituted by Jesus himself. In fact Jesus commands us to have this meal in remembrance of him.
I’m sure that most of you have had different experiences with communion, perhaps you grew up in a church that used liturgy so you had communion every week. Maybe you grew up in a church like Rocky Peak where you had communion every four to six weeks. Regardless of how you grew up doing communion there are a couple of words that probably describe how it was done in your church: solitary and somber. Maybe that’s just my own experience, but as far as I can remember when we did communion I would go off in a corner by myself, feeling really bad because I am sinful, then I would ask for forgiveness and give God thanks for sending his son to die for my sins. This is all great stuff and it is Biblical, but if our life groups are going to be communities on mission we must begin to look at communion through the lens of God’s mission.
To do this I believe that it would be helpful to look at how the first missional community did communion: the early church.
The New Testament and other 1st Century Christian documents tell us that the early church regularly practiced the taking of bread and wine (or in our case grape juice!). The first time we see this type of meal is in the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. However when Jesus does this it is part of a regular meal in the upper room of a regular house (note: they didn’t do it at the temple). This is the last meal that Jesus had with his closest friends, that is his community. You can imagine Jesus doing this with his life group (I imagine that this was the greatest life group in history!). As we go through the Gospels we see that Jesus constantly has meals with people. Jesus had meals with believers and non-believers. During these meals Jesus would often teach or tell parables. Basically what Jesus was doing during these meals was showing both believers and non-believers what God is like.
In Acts (the acts of the early “Missional” Church), we see believers gather in Jerusalem to break bread in their homes (Acts 2:46). In other words they were having communion. This in addition to the context of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 tells us that early Christians were having communion as a part of a larger regular shared meal.
If we put these three things together what do we learn? First we see that communion is where believers remember Christ and experience his presence. Second we notice that the Lord’s Supper is more than just eating a meal together, although it involved a real meal and not just a tiny cracker and a ½ shot of grape juice. However it is also not less than eating a meal together. Communion was a relational event it was meant to be an act of community, it was not meant to be an individualistic ritual. Third, communion is missional. When Jesus had meals with people believers and non-believers were present. It was during these meals that non-believers got to learn about who God is and got to see what a loving Christian community looks like.
So how do we take these three things (experiencing God, experiencing community, being missional) and do communion in light of them?
- We do communion in our small groups in the context of a real meal. In having an actual meal we experience community and we get to be missional.
- We take the bread and “wine” together and not as individuals. By doing this we strengthen our community, reinforce the idea that the Church is a body not just a bunch of individuals, and we combat the individualism that is so pervasive in our culture.
- We publicly remember what Christ has done for us. We should take this time to briefly share why we are celebrating Christ’s death/resurrection and share what Christ has done for us in our own lives.
Take this time to celebrate not to mourn! We celebrate because Christ is risen! We can have hope and joy because we know that Christ is coming back to set all wrongs to right. He is coming back to establish his Kingdom! So this week while you celebrate communion be intentional about fostering a celebratory atmosphere. Encourage people to share what Christ has done for them/is doing for them now. Set the tone by being real with the group when you share.
I pray that God blesses your time together this week as we celebrate his resurrection! – Chris Woznicki