the communion table

Posted: August 8, 2007 in church

This past weekend in Kentucky, we attended the church where my brother-in-law serves as the Associate Minister / Youth Minister. It’s in a town of about 12,000 people. Growing church, looks like they have about 350 in attendance each week. Good worship, different instruments, family life center, working on renovating the sanctuary (which definitely gives you that old-time feel). It was great getting to attend.

But it made me think….it had been a LONG time since I’d attended a church service where men in nice suits actually stood – with great posture – around the “communion table”, served it to each other, then routinely passed it to the worshippers. To mine and her knowledge, my wife had never witnessed this tradition. She was not a regular church go-er in her youth, and the places we’ve attended in the last 5 years use more modern (?) approaches to their communion time.

It brings me to a years-long struggle concerning “traditional” vs “modern/contemporary/emerging” churches. For some reason, my brain tells me that “modern” churches do things the right way, and “traditional” ones do things the wrong way. That somehow believers in traditional churches just don’t “get it”. That they are missing out on what God REALLY wants church to be like. That they only stand there and suffer through church, while us modern church members are enlightened and fully engaged in the presence of the Holy Spirit. That modern church goers are higher in the pecking order of Christian status.

I truly hate that I think like this! It’s stupid. Idiotic. Sinful. Immature. I look at a place like Southeast Christian in Louisville, Ky with 18,000 in weekend attendance and assume all the ministers there are truly devoted, spending time daily with God, living incredible lives. I assume that all in attendance there truly love each other and meet needs of people in unbelievable ways. I see the old Methodist church down the country road that still uses the magnetic-lettered sign out front to post their service times, and I assume that church is boring, tired, old, dead, and that they do nothing but show up late, eat potluck lunches, and bicker over the color of the pews.

It’s sick, and I want to confess my sinfulness in this matter. So ponder this with me…
Does it really matter how our services are planned? Does it matter how communion is passed? Does it matter how offering is collected? Does it matter if there’s a wooden pulpit, a glass pulpit, or just a music stand? Does it matter if we sing to a piano to a guitar? Does it matter if there are drums? Sure, I have my personal preferences in this matter. And so do you. BUT GOD DOESN’T CARE. Just like He doesn’t care that I was sitting there in my shorts and sneakers while a man in a 3-piece suit offered me the body of Christ. Just like He has no preference whether Haitians worship acapella with only a tamborine, or Californians sing raucously with a 12 member rock band. Just like He doesn’t care if the communion comes from the front of the room, the back of the room, a wicker basket, a golden tray, sits on a table or on the floor, is passed down the rows, or is available on a table for believers to come and receive on their own.

And God certainly doesn’t care whether I think any of these methods are better than another. And I’m extremely thankful for that.

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