By Brandon Lemons
During the Good Friday service, we will be celebrating the Lord’s Supper and will do so in a manner that is different than usual. This brings to mind a topic that I am periodically asked about: When should a child begin participating in the Lord’s Supper? This is a good question!
For anyone of any age who is interested in receiving the Lord’s Supper, here is the most important question: Are you trusting in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord? Worded differently, is the person looking to Jesus alone to forgive them of their sins and reconcile them with God, and are they seeking to submit to His teaching in how they live? If a person is trusting in Jesus as their Savior and Lord, they are welcome to participate in the Lord’s Supper at Friedens Church.
Now let’s apply the above principle to children. Children are growing in their bodies and in their minds. There are things they can do and understand at age 6 that they can’t at age 3; it’s similar when you compare a 10-year-old to a 6-year-old, and so on. Understanding and responding to the Gospel require enough cognitive maturity for a person to make the decision for themselves to trust in Christ and follow Him. To use a fairly extreme example, choosing to respond to the Gospel is not something a two-year-old can do. Seeds of the Gospel can (and should) be sown in a two-year-old’s life, but it is at a later age that a child is able to personally choose to trust in Jesus and follow Him. It is at that point, when they personally trust in Jesus as Savior and Lord, that it is appropriate to begin partaking in the Lord’s Supper.
At Friedens, we entrust the timing of a child taking the Lord’s Supper to the discretion of the parents. Here are three topics for parents to discuss with their child when considering whether it is time for the child to begin receiving the Lord’s Supper. It is also valuable for parents to be perceptive about whether these spiritual realities are manifested in the child’s life.
Is the child able to give a credible profession of their personal faith in Christ?
Does the child consciously intend to follow Jesus in obedience as their Lord?
Does the child understand the meaning of the Lord’s Supper?
Before a child begins participating in the Lord’s Supper, a parent should have a serious conversation with the child to discuss the types of topics listed above. This might feel frustrating for children, especially when they see other children taking the Lord’s Supper and want to rush into it. However, it is important to be intentional about this step as a way of taking the child’s discipleship seriously. We are doing children a disservice if we let them take the Lord’s Supper without using it as an opportunity to have intentional conversations with them about where they stand with Jesus. It is also important to recognize that the spiritual maturity of one child differs from that of another, even in the same family.
If you have one or more children and would like assistance in talking with them about the topics in this article, please feel free to reach out to me or any of Friedens’ other staff. We would be happy to talk about this important step!
In line with what is written in this article, when someone at Friedens is serving communion and a child shows the intention of receiving the bread and cup, we will typically serve the child, because we are assuming the parents have given the child their assent to participate (especially if the child is with a parent). Again, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me or any of Friedens’ other staff.