- What we believe
- Spiritual Help
- How we serve
- Christian Aid & Relief
- Adult Discipleship
- Campus Ministry
- Christian Giving
- Congregational Counseling
- Lutheran Schools
- Military Services
- Ministerial Education
- Multi-Language Publications
- Special Ministries
- Women's Ministry
- Youth and Family Ministries
- Northwestern Publishing House
- WELS Administration
- News & Events
- Streams media
- About WELS
- 2015 OWLS Convention
A closer look at close communion
We have a responsibility to make sure that the people we commune are truly penitent and that they realize that they are receiving the true body and blood of Christ.
A way to avoid this kind of incident would be to practice open communion. But that’s not an option. The Bible charges us to be faithful servants of Christ with the secret things of God (1 Corinthians 4:1-4). We have a responsibility to make sure that the people we commune are truly penitent and that they realize that they are receiving the true body and blood of Christ so they receive the sacrament to their good and not their harm. Also, our participation in the Lord’s Supper is to express the unity of our faith and not our religious diversity.
If we follow our scriptural beliefs we won’t be able to avoid all awkward situations. Many people will not agree with us no matter how carefully and lovingly we try to explain our practice. Not everyone agrees that faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection is the world’s only hope of salvation. But we can’t back down from scriptural teachings and proclaim only doctrines that couldn’t possibly displease anyone.
We must, however, strive to present our doctrines in as loving a way as possible to win others and not drive them away. I’ve always felt that the loving thing to do is to not offer Holy Communion at a service at which we would expect many visitors. I can’t imagine sending out an invitation to the neighborhood saying, “Come and join us for our church dedication service, but don’t try to take communion.”
Another thing we could do is greet all guests as they enter church. Visitors are less apt to get upset at our communion practice if they’ve been warmly welcomed than if the first words spoken to them are, “You can’t take communion.”
An important tool for presenting our communion practice in a loving way is a carefully worded announcement or bulletin insert. Keep it brief and positive. If you’re not satisfied with what you have, check with other WELS churches.
Communion ushers should be carefully trained to present themselves as warm and caring servants of our loving Lord who are trying to help people have a blessed experience at the Lord’s Table. They should avoid appearing as stern security guards on the lookout for unworthy guests.
When you invite friends to church, explain our communion practice. If a visitor is upset, speak to him immediately and ask for an opportunity to discuss his concern.
Our communion practice is drawn from God’s perfect Word. We won’t try to change either of them. But we’re not perfect. We will make mistakes as we apply our practice in real-life situations. God will forgive us, but let’s also learn from our mistakes and try not to repeat them.
Author: Walter F. Beckmann
Volume 88, Number 8
Issue: August 2001
Volume 88, Number 8
Issue: August 2001
Copyrighted by WELS Forward in Christ © 2009
Permission is granted for a single personal copy of an article. Additional copyright information is available at Northwestern Publishing House.
Subscribe to FIC
This monthly magazine, sent to almost 50,000 subscribers, addresses important issues facing Christians today.
Forward in Christ goes digital
Forward in Christ magazine is now available in a digital format for your computer, smart phone, or tablet.
100 years of Forward in Christ
Did you know the official magazine of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is turning 100 years old? Learn more about the magazine’s history and plans for the future—what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.