Is it Wrong to Observe the Lord’s Supper at Home?

Earlier this week, we asked the question, “Is it wrong for churches to cancel worship services?” I appreciate the many positive comments regarding the post.

However, as one of our readers responded, “This brings up another question. Is it scriptural to partake of the Lord’s Supper individually at home?”

Others have asked and commented on this issue as well. Here are a few thoughts for your serious and prayerful consideration.

First of all, we are not writing because we have a hidden agenda or an “ax to grind” with anyone. We’re not seeking self-justification to defend our actions. In fact, during this time, the churches where I’ve been scheduled to preach and am scheduled for the next three weeks have not cancelled services. So my wife and I have not currently faced this issue.

Secondly, all Bible believers are aware of the admonition in 1 Corinthians 11 for them to “come together as a church,” “in one place,” and to “wait for one another.” Apparently, the brethren were abusing the Lord’s supper and turning it into a common meal. Possibly the rich among them were bringing an abundance of food and shaming the poor who had very little. Paul sets the record straight regarding the elements, purpose and design of the Lord’s supper to remember Jesus and “proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”

What is occurring today, in this “present distress” is not the same thing for which Paul was condemning the Corinthians. They were a divided church. The book addresses many problems that plagued them, including a denial of the resurrection as well as the desecration of the Lord’s supper. So, the Corinthian abuse and the question of communion during our current crisis is not parallel.

Thirdly, our question deals with the appropriate, scriptural response when you are not able to “come together.” Then what? Brethren in isolated areas with only one church have no other choices. Even in some large cities all of the churches may have canceled services. One sister messaged me that her local church had canceled services, but so had all the other churches in the metropolitan area of 7-8 million people. There was no place to “come together” for communion. She wanted to do what was right. She desired to worship. Her heart is in the right place. So her family worshiped at home. And took communion.

This leads us to a fourth and very important point. What is the attitude and motive for observing the Lord’s supper at home? Through the years, I’ve heard of brethren who went deer hunting and skipped worshiped services. The local church was close by. But they didn’t want to leave the camp. So, the took the Lord’s supper while sitting in a deer stand. Seriously? The same could be said for those who take a trip to the beach or mountains where there are places to worship, but they don’t want to interrupt their vacation. This is a totally different motive and attitude in such situations.

Fifth, I wonder what the apostle Paul did on his voyage to Rome as recorded in Acts 27-28? We know because of the “we sections” that Luke was with him. Maybe other brethren in their traveling party. When Sunday came, can you imagine Luke saying, “I brought unleavened bread and wine for us to have communion?” And then Paul condemned Luke? “What’s the matter with you? Didn’t you read 1 Corinthians? You can only worship and take communion in the local church? Come on, Luke, let’s go sit on the deck and enjoy the sunshine. It would be wrong to worship.”

Somehow I can’t envision such a response. Wouldn’t it have been nice if the Holy Spirit recorded what they did? But He didn’t. So, we have to apply our best judgment to this unusual and unprecedented crisis.

Sixth, let’s be very, very slow to criticize spiritual shepherds who made the decision to cancel services that has placed so many in this situation. One elder commented on my earlier post sharing his feelings.  “As an elder of a church that chose to scale down services for the safety of our members, I can tell you that the decision by our five elders was not flippant and came at an emotional cost.”

Pastors and preachers are looking out for the spiritual, as well as the physical and emotional well being of those entrusted to their care. Let’s be charitable in our assessment. And allow local churches to make their own decisions without impugning their motives.

Seventh, individual Christians who are unable to assemble, must study this issue for themselves, come to a conclusion and be fully persuaded in their own minds. The aforementioned elder also offered this sound advice. “During these trying times, we should remember that our faith is measured by how well we persevere and continue to walk circumspectly according to God’s will. None of us, need to worry what another man’s faith may lead them to say about our decisions concerning our own worship.”

Good brethren will reach different conclusions on this matter. This is no time to get involved in social-media shouting matches. Unjustly condemning elders, preachers and churches. And judging our brother or sister who acts in good faith.

Honestly, it’s difficult to believe the God is unhappy with Christians who are unable to assembly and out of love for Him meet with their families to worship. Is He displeased with their singing? Praying? Study of the Word? And remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice? Would he rather they watch TV? Engage in recreation? Or play cards?

Finally, Lord wiling, this crisis will cease. Churches will resume meeting. We will soon be able to extend hugs, handshakes and most of all worship and commune together.

In the meantime, let us stay focused on Jesus. Hold on tight to our faith. Grow spiritually. Be patient with one another. Pray for this crisis to end. Respect each other’s consciences. And show brotherly love.

May God bless and protect you all by His grace and mercy.

Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

44 Comments

Filed under COVID-19, Worship

44 responses to “Is it Wrong to Observe the Lord’s Supper at Home?

  1. Chuck Richardson

    Thank you for your thoughts. I will do my part to consider my brethren at this time and worship the Lord without wavering. You may have plans to write about the collection as well, but these questions may arise: Can we set up some digital service to make contribution? Or can we mail our checks to the treasurer for deposit? Is it right to collect at all if we’re not together? These answers may help others to navigate this decision as well.

  2. Steven Estes

    Thanks Ken!

  3. rlb

    Thanks for the good thoughts Ken!

  4. Jim Grushon

    Our Elders have called us together at 10:45 on Sunday to worship together even though we are restricted. Our service is streamed live and we let other churches in the area without streaming capabilities know. We carried out the worship including singing, Praying, the Lord’s supper, scripture reading, and preaching as the church, all at the same time with the same purpose. I am so thankful for the technology of today that allowed our hearts to be together even though we are in this difficult time. We actually distributed communion on Saturday or asked people to prepare their own, but we did it together as one body. I appreciate your comment on Paul. When Paul, Barnabus, and John Mark left Antioch the we’re going where no local churched existed. Do we truly believe they never communed with Lord until they had an established a local church. In Acts 20 it’s obvious Paul and his companion we not in Troas until a Monday, they tarried 7 days to observe the supper with them. Do we assume that since they were traveling they did not partake. I am so thankful that I will not be judged by some of my brethren who think doing right is what makes us just all the time. Abraham faith was counted as righteousness not his perfect performance. Thankful for your words and God’s Merciful Judgment.

    • Clif Dennis

      The local church here (Warner Robins, GA) did the same as yours. We were all together online, video and audio, the emblems were distributed to each home, and we all communed at the same time. We mailed our contribution to the treasurer. We had a wonderful sermon from our local preacher, announcements were made. Singing is being added soon.

    • Thanks Jim for reading my blog posts, and offering additional insights. I appreciate it.

  5. Ken Green

    Agree. We must realize that the New Testament simply doesn’t address every little picky question that may arise regarding our worship and service as Christians. No more than the Law of Moses declared precisely what constituted work on the Sabbath. It is so easy to fall into the practice of making laws that God has not made.

  6. Ken…
    Thank you so much for this!
    Just so everyone knows … Kettering Church will be holding online services this Sunday @ 10.45 am ET. We’ve had over 2500 people watch over the course of this week. All of you are welcome to join us at ketteringchurch.com/livestream … or facebook.com/ketteringchurch.

  7. Billie Mann

    Great post. Our Elders have provided the Supper in front of the church outside for us individually to pick up our Supper!  Thanks for all Christians 

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPhone

  8. Mike Grushon

    Good thoughts. As in many cases in life answers are not always simple. As my good wife often points out God allows these things to confront us because it provides the opportunity to express where our hearts really are.

  9. Gail

    Thank you brother for your insight. I appreciate your comments! My husband is an Elder at the congregation we attend. He had cancer last year and is unable to worship with our brethren because of his immune system being compromised. We are older people and we love our brethren and want to be with them. It’s an unusual time in our lives. We miss everyone so much. Thank you for your article.

  10. In the spirit of Jesus’ prayer for unity, is it possible that we do, in fact, have GENERIC BIBLICAL AUTHORITY for a “local church” entity which may exist EITHER as an incorporated non-profit 501C organization with trustees, meeting in a rented or owned building, with a sign out front, OR a “local church” may actually be a group of Christians who meet together for a while meeting in homes or other places (think of Christians who work in foreign fields), or who are traveling on a tour of the holy lands, or who are in the military on a ship for weeks or months at a time? Do we need to reexamine how, from a biblical point of view, we understand the meaning of a “local church” as we commonly use the expression?

  11. William E. Free

    In Matthew 18:20, Matthew tells us in Christ’s words “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” “But of that day and hour no one knows, not the angels of heaven, but My Father Only.” Jesus speaking in Matthew 24:36.
    No matter how many is there two or more I am wanting to do what Jesus says to do in his Word.
    Polishing the Pulpit has a Great church service, complete at 10 o’clock central time.
    God bless everyone and be cautious and safe.

  12. Philip North

    Good article as always, Brother Ken! Paul did not write for nothing, under the pen of Divine Inspiration at that, that all things are lawful, but not all things are expedient! Whatever the issue be, no arguing otherwise, SOME things which are expedient at one location are not always expedient at another location. This crisis, like those in the past, is one of many situations that will most often bring out one’s true character—-which is whether a certain amount of understanding will be shown, or whether dictatorial reasoning will manifest itself!

  13. Mike Benson

    Ken, thanks for your good thoughts.

  14. Lori Barham

    Thank you for this!! I very much appreciate your cogent explanation. I responded in much the same way on a social media site and was criticized and admonished. Your explanation makes me feel that I am interpreting the Bible and Jesus’ teachings appropriately in these unusual circumstances. Blessings!

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  16. Carol mccaskill

    God knows our hearts and in all wisdom we are doing what we can at these times

  17. Brent Hunter

    Well said, Ken!
    Thx for your wise words!

  18. No one seems to object when we go to a nursing home and take it to someone who is bedridden.

  19. Ken, thank you for your study. I am one of those who believe that the complete pattern for taking the Lord’s Supper. I will not be taking it at home, but will mourn its loss instead.

    I am in agreement with your points, except #5.

    On #3: that good and honest sister, and countless others will have no place to take the supper this week, or maybe for many more. The question for me is, does God understand and excuse my not taking the supper, or understand and excuse my not taking the supper in the regular order of things? (Ref. 2 Chron. 30:17-20.) God might accept, or God might not.

    My not be eating will be “to the Lord,” since my conclusion is that I should only take it in the assembly. Other will conclude differently, and “take it to the Lord” or home or in small isolation groups. I fully understand how compelling an instruction “DO THIS” is. So I’ll not partake, nor will I judge. Hopefully, as you and other partake, you’ll not judge either.

    But I do object to your characterization in Pt. #5 that the option to not partaking is “let’s go sit on the deck and enjoy the sunshine. It would be wrong to worship.”

    You don’t know if Paul and Luke would have partaken on the boat (a grain ship used for prisoner transport, not a pleasure cruise), absent the assembly, or if he would have partaken in the Caesarean holden cells, or the other places of his confinement. But what you presume Paul would do is obviously clear to you. Further, to imagine such a casual and flippant dismissal as the only alternative to partaking is deeply prejudicial. None of us that are waiting to partake with the brethren in the assembly are refusing to worship (there will still be hymns, prayers and Bible study) not sitting on deck chairs at the Mediterranean seaside.

  20. Personally, I feel this would be perfectly acceptable.
    There are many who are shut in, they cannot assemble with others. So, they serve the Lord right where they are. They pray, they praise, so I believe they can partake in the Holy Communion right in there home.
    I have a relative who cannot make it out. She takes communion with a preacher she watches on Sundays.

  21. Donald Coats

    Great words, well thought out and prayed over. Thank you!!

  22. Duane Jenkins

    Have we forgot the lessons we’ve heard on Bible authority. What we think and what we feel does not matter. The pattern is, Christians assembled, as a church, in one place on the first day of the week to eat the Lord’s Supper. New Testament Christians traveled. The Holy Spirit revealed no provisions for travelers to eat the Lord’s Supper outside of the assembly. New Testament Christians got sick. The Holy Spirit revealed no provisions for the sick to eat the Lord’s Supper outside of the assembly.

  23. David W England

    Good words brother. As for the contribution, l don’t see any difference between this circumstance and that of going on vacation. Each of us should still “lay by in store” each week and when the opportunity comes to place that which has been stored up the plate, it should be done. We “lay by in store” for the vacation. Why would we not do the same for the contribution?

  24. Leah Bates

    Yes I read it. Very good

    Leah
    Sent from my iPhone

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  26. Keith Greer

    My concern is not that brethren can reach differing conclusions in these different times. Yet great assumption to believe situations did not arise in the early church that brethren had to grapple with. Still, no pattern did they changed for a new pattern to fit a certain situation. When this is over many my brethren have opened up the discussion if one can take Lord Supper at home individual now why not at any time? Just saying this is special situation will not be an answer. By the way I use to take Lord Supper to nursing homes and hospitals. Stopped because I was elevating one act of worship above another. No way is the church in one place. When folks are sick they don’t take the Lord Supper at home and none charge them with sin. Yet, not we can’t meet but we must take the Lord’s supper at home. Each must study issue for himself but I’m not going to create another issue that later I’ll have divide with my brethren about. Anyone out that things that others will not take this course after crisis is over are naive. Seen it too many times so I know better. Praying for you all stay safe.

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