Should Children Take Communion?

by Jack Wellman on January 8, 2014 · Print Print · Email Email

The Bible commands that Christians should take communion but what about children?  Should children be allowed to take communion if they profess faith in Christ?  What if they are not yet saved?

Children and Communion

The instructions that Paul gave for communion or the Lord’s Supper were given to the church and the church consists of members who have repented, seen the sinfulness of their sins, seen their need for a Savior, asked for God’s forgiveness, and then trusted in Christ.

The Command of Communion

The Bible is clear about believers partaking in communion or the Lord’s Supper on a regular basis.  Some churches have communion weekly, some take it monthly while others do it every 3 to 4 months.  Regardless of how often a church takes communion, the fact is that members are commanded to take it on a regular basis.   Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 11:23b-26   that Jesus “on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me. ”In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”  For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

We should note that Paul wrote that Jesus did not say if you do this but “Do this in remembrance of me.”  It is done to remember how His body was broken for our sakes and that His blood was shed for our forgiveness and we are to take the Lord’s Supper and when we do, or “as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup”, we are actually proclaiming “the Lord’s death until he comes” again.  This is not a negotiable doctrine for the church to either choose to do it or decide not to do it; it’s commanded, at least for adults.  But what about children?  Should they take communion, and if so, is it only for those children of saved parents?  Is it only for children who have professed faith in Christ or is it for any child old enough to understand what they are doing, saved or not?

Related Reading: Bible Verses About Communion: Scriptures on the Lord’s Supper

Children and Communion

Almost every church consists of at least some members who were saved at a very young age and some denominations allowed these members when they were young children to take communion.  Other denominations say that it’s only for adults, but what if a child understands what sin is, sees their need for the Savior, repents of their sins, and then puts their trusts in Christ, should they not also be able to take communion or the Lord’s Supper?  Is communion intended only for believing adult members of the Body of Christ but not children who are believers?

When Paul gave instructions to the Corinthian church, he didn’t single out that communion was only for adults so it would seem logical that we cannot exclude children who have come to saving faith in Christ.  However, Paul gives a warning and perhaps a clue as to who should take communion.  Is that person, whether an adult or child, mature enough to be able to discern exactly what the Lord’s Supper means? Paul wrote that for all of those who take communion, they should be able to examine themselves  because anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body can eat and drink judgment on themself (1 Cor 11:28-29).  Is the child knowledgeable enough to be able to examine themselves?  That is a critical issue because if they take communion “without discerning the body [they can bring] judgment on” themselves.  Is the child who takes communion able to understand this?  Do they know what it means to examine themselves or to be able to discern the body?  For that matter, can the adult members to the same thing?

Conclusion

Ultimately, by asking the young child questions, one may see if they understand what communion is all about.  The parents and the pastor can ask the child who has professed faith in Christ if they know exactly what it means to examine themselves.  Is the child also able to discern just what the bread and wine (or grape juice for children and many adults) means and why they are taking it? Do they know what these represent?  Can they comprehend what the symbolism is?  Can they understand the depth of the meaning of the broken bread and drink symbolizes the broken body of Jesus and the blood spilled on their behalf?  Are they somber in recognizing this?  Also, if a person has not professed faith in Christ after repentance, then most churches will not allow them to take the Lord’s Supper.  Communion is only for members of the Body of Christ, the church.  By excluding non-members, whether an adult or child, they are following biblical instructions and guidelines for who can and who cannot take the Lord’s Supper and it’s actually in their best interests and for their own good (1 Cor 11:28-30).

The instructions that Paul gave for communion or the Lord’s Supper were given to the church and the church consists of members who have repented, seen the sinfulness of their sins, seen their need for a Savior, asked for God’s forgiveness, and then trusted in Christ.  If the child or adult has not yet done this, then they are not able to discern what they actually eat or drink and they cannot possibly examine themselves in the light of what God has done for them through Jesus Christ.  If they cannot do this, then they cannot or at least should not take communion, otherwise they run the danger of taking the Lord’s Supper in an unworthily manner (1 Cor 11:28-29).  Paul reveals that for those who took communion in an unworthy manner or for some who might take it unworthily today, premature death could be the result (1 Cor 11:30).   It was for some of those in the church at Corinth.  That’s a risk you should not be willing to take, so if you have not yet repented and trusted in Christ, then I strongly urge you to not partake in the Lord’s Supper.  My suggestion is that today you repent of your sins and trust your eternal future in Christ Jesus alone, while it is still called “today” (2 Cor 6:2).

Another reading: Should Christians Fear God? A Bible Study

Resources: New International Version Bible (NIV) THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide



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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

DocReits January 9, 2014 at 12:23 am

Well said pastor Jack,

You tackled a hot topic, not only whether children should partake in Communion but whether adults should partake. The spectrum is so broad on this topic that I am hoping you stir up some discussion…or maybe the dead in Christ are awaiting the shout….;-) Kidding…

I was raised Roman Catholic, and as you know, was instructed that the bread and wine becomes the actual body and blood of Christ(Transubstantiation).

The Lutheran church I infrequently(not a typo) attend makes folks take a course on what they believe Communion to be, which basically is that the bread and wine becomes the mystical body of Christ and just falls short of the physical, as the Roman Catholics believe. Even, if you are a believer, yet do not believe this point, you are told “Not” to partake.

I do have a question about something I heard another pastor preach about awhile back. It centers around your warning that folks should be concerned about partaking in Communion “unworthily” if they are not saved. Do you believe that this warning was given to the church as well as non-believers? I personally, believe the warning was for the believer.
If so, then who cares if the non-believer just comes up to get his belly full?

Blessings,

DocReits

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Jack Wellman January 9, 2014 at 6:50 am

Thanks Doc. I don’t believe this was given to unbelievers because Paul was writing this to the church specifically and to how they ought to conduct themselves and participate in the Lord’s Supper so if it was to unbelievers, since unbelievers are not even interested in reading the Bible, they surely wouldn’t care about such a warning about taking Communion in an unworthy manner. So I agree with you and do not agree with this pastor because the context and intended audience are for the church’s administrating the Lord’s Supper and for the believer’s taking such a sacred event not lightly but very seriously.

I agree with the Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry as they say that it could be that those taking the communion elements needed to be fully aware that they represent the sacrifice of Christ by which we are redeemed from sin. Therefore, to participate in communion while not understanding this would be to take it in an unworthy manner. Another possibility is that taking the supper with willful, unconfessed sin would be in an unworthy manner. The earlier context of 1 Cor. 11 seems to suggest that taking communion in an unworthy manner means to do so while you have a problem with another Christian with whom you are not reconciled.

Another view is that some Corinthian’s were using the communion supper as an opportunity for self-indulgence, which is why Paul mentioned about how some got drunk in verse 21. Also, the that both elements (bread and wine) must be taken, not just one (bread or wine) since Christ commanded that both be taken. This would, incidentally, invalidate the Roman Catholic practice of taking the wafer only.

It could also be that the person taking communion must be worthy in order to take it. But this view, however, is dangerous because no one is worthy to take communion supper. Our worthiness comes from Christ, not ourselves.

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Jack H January 21, 2014 at 3:14 pm

Hello, Pastor Jack! :D I seek not to divide anyone over this, but why are the Matthew and Mark accounts of the “greatest in heaven” debacle different? According to Matthew, the disciples simply asked Jesus who would be the greatest in Heaven, and Jesus rebuked them by setting a child in their midst. But according to Mark, the disciples were ARGUING who was greatest, Jesus asked what they were arguing about, and they stayed silent out of shame. Then Jesus set the child in their midst. Which one should I believe? Do I believe both of them?
Which testimony is correct? I apologise for putting this burden on you.
Thanks, Jack H

Reply

Jack Wellman January 21, 2014 at 8:49 pm

Hello Jack. Good to hear from you friend. Whose testimony is correct? Both! Remember that these were eye witnesses and they all, like in a court of law, have different viewpoints and this may have been two different occurences too because it appears that Jesus blessed these children at least 2 different times. Mark’s gospel is really the testimony of Peter and Mark wrote it down so Mark is really Peter’s gospel in effect. If 3 witnesses saw an accident, they would all have just slightly different details but all 3 saw the same thing. That doesn’t mean you can’t believe each one or say “which one is correct.” They all are. I suggest you find and buy a good ESV or New King James chronological Bible and this has all three of Jesus’ accounts all in one long gospel. This was no burden but it has a simple explanation. Anytime there is a seeming conflict in the Bible it can always be resolved and is always the reader’s not seeing it all clearly and never is the Bible wrong nor do the gospel writers conflict but they are all human beings having different takes on things but the same central issues are never wrong (i.e. Roma 10:9-13, Acts 4:12, Acts 16:30-31…etc.). The main things are always the plain things…and that’s what is most important, right? Thanks Jack

Reply

Jack H January 25, 2014 at 3:21 am

Yes, I agree! :D In fact, I admit something. I wanted to make sense of this, so I may have had the questionable idea of trying to combine ALL three into one. Here is the result:
——————————————————-
MATTHEW & MARK & LUKE COMBINED

An argument arose among them (the talmidim) as to which of them should be considered the greatest. They arrived at K’far-Nachum. When Yeshua was inside the house, he asked them, “What were you discussing as we were traveling?” But they kept quiet; because on the way, they had been arguing with each other about who was the greatest.
At that moment the talmidim came to Yeshua and asked, “Who is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?” But Yeshua said to them, “The kings of the Goyim lord it over them; and those in authority over them are given the title, ‘Benefactor.’ But not so with you! On the contrary, let the greater among you become like the younger, and one who rules like one who serves. For who is greater? The one reclining at the table? or the one who serves? It’s the one reclining at the table, isn’t it? But I myself am among you like one who serves.” He sat down, summoned the Twelve and said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he must make himself last of all and servant of all.” He called a child to him, stood him among them, and said, “Yes! I tell you that unless you change and become like little children, you won’t even enter the Kingdom of Heaven! So the greatest in the Kingdom is whoever makes himself as humble as this child.” Then he put his arms around him and said to them, “Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the One who sent me.”
————————————————————–

Please note that this is from the Complete Jewish Bible, and also please note, that there may be a chance that I accidentally altered the Scriptures in the process. This could be bad…

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