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Don Bryant

Is it appropriate for a child to participate on Communion? This is a recurring

question Christian parents ask. Since Spring Green Memorial Church is a “free
church” that practices open communion (communion not restricted to members
only) answers to this concern are left to the conscience of those who participate
and those who are responsible to guide them. The practice of parents in this
matter has differed widely, often to the confusion of children. As a pastor, I
would like to respond.

In order to formulate some guidelines, parents should recall some truths about the
Lord’s Supper:
1. The church is to practice two ordinances (ceremonies “ordered” by our
Lord): baptism and the Lord’s Supper.
2. Baptism is the ceremony of initiation, following salvation. The Lord’s
Supper is the ceremony of continuation by which the Christian is
called continually to a reliance upon Christ alone for salvation.
3. Consequently, the proper order for participation in these ordinances is
first, baptism, followed by the Lord’s Supper.
4. From this it is clear that only those who have professed belief and
personal trust in Jesus Christ for the gift of eternal life are to observe
the Lord’s Supper. Children are to be guided away from an external
form of religion and led to the internal realities which the Holy Spirit
wants to impart.

5. As to observance of the Lord’s Supper, the Apostle Paul in I Cor. 11

gives guidelines for proper participation:

A. As to its design:
1. It commemorates the death of Christ “do this in
remembrance of me.”
2. It represents and certifies our parti-cipation in the body
and blood of Christ – “this is my body which is for
3. It represents and certifies the union of believers with
each other. It is a common meal.
4. It symbolizes our acceptance of the new covenant, as
ratified by the blood of Christ, to be God’s people, set
apart for the doing of His will.

B. As to the conditions for profitable Communion:

1. Knowledge to discern in the Lord’s Supper the
body of the Lord ( I Cor. 11:29). In other words, he/she
must understand that this is not a common meal which
is for satisfying the body. It is a remembrance of a body
broken and blood shed by which the soul is saved. In
other words, participation requires competent
knowledge of Christ and His gospel.
2. Faith to feed upon Christ. If there is no reliance
upon Christ then what is outwardly confessed is not
inwardly true. Accordingly to Paul, this makes one
subject to chastisement from God (I Cor. 11:29)
3. Personal examination (I Cor. 11:28). The Bible
teaches that carefulness is important to proper
observance, lest there is actually no personal response
being made to Christ in our observance to the Supper.

As these guidelines are understood, a number of conclusions respecting children

would suggest themselves:
1. There must be credible evidence of new birth in Christ, both in verbal
confession and spiritual fruit.
2. Baptism should precede Communion as a proper order.
3. The child should evidence that the importance of the event is
understood. Many Protestant denominations precede the Lord’s Supper
by catechism so that the Supper is protected from being trivialized and
abused, and have chosen age 12 as a minimum for participation.
SGMC has no requirements in these matters, but I would suggest that
12 is an appropriate age, as well. This is no set rule. But it would be
good for the parent to carefully look for commanding evidence in
order to make an exception for the child.
4. Previous to each Communion parents ought to inquire as to their
child’s spiritual state. This would cultivate an approach to this
ordinance which will hopefully yield a meaningful spiritual
5. These reflections could lead some adults to ask whether or not they
should participate in the Supper at Coastal if they have not been
baptized. Let me say that the absence of baptism does not invalidate
the meaning of the Supper when there is present a lively faith in the
Lord Jesus. To participate is not to be in disobedience to the Lord.
But should there not be a desire to honor the Lord’s command to
publicly confess Him in baptism? Why would we obey the Lord in
one ordinance and not in the other? It is one and the same Lord. Let
our response to Him be full.

These perspectives might raise questions that you wish to share with me. Please
do so. In all things we want to be profitable to your child’s spiritual life. May
God grant you His wisdom in instruction and care.