Ethics: Visiting Non-Member Friend Wants to Take Lord’s Supper

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What would you do Wednesday!

LifeWay’s recent survey on the Lord’s Supper practices among Southern Baptists has incited some discussion in Baptist blog world. So today’s situation is in the context of the Lord’s Supper being served in Baptist church that practices closed communion.

An old friend is in town staying with you over the weekend. While catching up over dinner Friday night your friend begins a spiritual conversation. He admits something that has been spiritually weighing him down – he had some unresolved anger toward you and decided not to take communion until after this visit where he could ask forgiveness and reconcile with you.

The two of you reconcile and thank the Lord in prayer. Your friend, relieved, explains how he is looking forward to taking the Lord’s Supper when he gets home.

Sunday rolls around. While driving to worship your friend, a Presbyterian, teases you about whether or not he is allowed inside your Baptist church.

Arriving for worship a bit early, you socialize a bit with your friend as he notices in the order of worship that the Lord’s Supper will be served that morning. The order of worship offers a few words on self-examination to prepare for the Lord’s Supper which begin with an explanation of who is allowed to partake.

XYZ Baptist Church asks, in accordance with our beliefs, that only those who have been rightly baptized by immersion and are members in good standing of this local church partake of the Lord’s Supper.

Your friend points out the above statement to you and laments, “I was excited to see that communion was being served this morning since we reconciled, but I have not been immersed nor am I member here. What should I do?”

How would you answer?

  • I would appreciate if you respected our beliefs and abstained.
  • This is between you and God – follow your conscience.
  • Let’s quickly ask the pastor and what he says.
  • I’ll take extra bread and wine so we can partake at home later.
  • Or…
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The above article was posted on October 3, 2012 by Mark Lamprecht.
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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Les October 3, 2012 at 11:52 am

Well, I would answer with #1 and then probably tell him that we can discuss it later and I would begin looking for another church which was not so restrictive.

BTW, I posted a comment at Voices the other day which was a “what if” related to this. If you say it’s ok, I can reproduce it here. No one there ever responded.

2 Mark October 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

Les, sure, go ahead and share it.

3 Les October 3, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Ok, I’ll link to the conversation at the end. The question was addressed to Jared Moore in his post related to some comments also by David Rogers. Here it is:

“Suppose you are the pastor of a small Baptist church in a small rural town. Yours is the only evangelical, bible believing church for miles and miles. This could easily be true in parts of the western US.

You have a family there. Dad and mom have been credo immersed. They have a couple of children, ages 1 and 3. Dad and mom read and study baptism and come to believe that paedobaptism is true. But since they are in a credo church, they cannot have their children sprinkled. So, they travel back to grandpa’s independent church which will baptize either way and babies and/or adults (there are such) and have their children sprinkled (no baptismal regeneration belief here).

1. They are members of your church, so is there any issue or problem with them changing their belief on baptism and maintaining their membership in good standing?
2. How would you pastorally handle the issue of them going to have their children sprinkled, and later upon the kids’ POF not choosing to have them immersed?

I know this seems far fetched, but it’s not. And especially are these cross over situations not uncommon in other countries among true believers, as David has referenced.”

Made October 2, 2012 at 12:03 pm at http://sbcvoices.com/agreeing-with-paul-chitwood-on-close-communion-disagreeing/

4 Chris Roberts October 3, 2012 at 4:25 pm

If that was the policy of the church, I would ask him to respect that policy. I would note that this is not the policy of my church nor do I think it is the required interpretation of the BF&M. I had not even considered that meaning of the BF&M section until the recent discussions.

5 Francis Drake October 3, 2012 at 4:59 pm

I would never be part of a church which refused someone who was desiring communion. However in the situation you present, I would also avoid taking communion myself and instead suggest we take it back at home with wine and bread from my larder.
There is no scriptural requirement for an officiating pastor, nor for special breads or wines. Jesus simply used what was served on the table at the last supper.
Maybe I am unusual as I take communion regularly at home with my wife and or friends who might visit.

6 Steve Martin October 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

We believe that Baptized Christians who believe Christ to be present in the Supper should receive Him.

No matter if they are only with us that one day. It’s the Lord’s Supper…not ours. The Lord is able to handle what is going on with the sinners who receive His Supper.

My 2 cents.

7 Thomas Twitchell October 3, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I wouldn’t have to say anything. Before communion our pastor explains the policy and the biblical basis for it before communion is taken. Our policy is simply asbstension if one is not a communicating member of some church which holds to the essential doctrines of the faith. If there were a question I would explain that there is no such thing as a Christian who has not partaken in the body and blood of Christ, baptized or not, and were made partakers not because of what they have done but despite it, because of what he has done in putting away sin. If one doesn’t understand that he comes to the table a sinner in need of forgiveness, then I would wonder if they have ever taken that first morsel and cup at all. I would expect that a friend knows me and my affilliation well enough to understand our policy. I would explain that policy isn’t a belief but policy and that based upon certain inferences from non-essential teaching. Together, we would have already taken communion if he was believer, anyway, if not in form, in essence, since communion means fellowship. To be in union with Christ is to partake of the fellowship of the body of Christ, simply. What astounds me is the exchange of the meaning of communion for the nearly sacerdotal practice and sheltering of it. To think of it as some holy icon is Romish practice and idolatry. It may be a means, but that means is by the Word which explains it. How it has become that the bread and wine was transformed into a magic trick is insane. John doesn’t have the supper, and I think for a very good reason. There, as it is in his epistles, the condescension and servanthood of the fellowship take the prominent place, love of neighbor, and consideration of others as in Corinthians is in the fore, laying downs ones life for the brethren, and not self, is central. He came to his own but his own have turned a simple memorial service into a mystic experientialism. How foolish!

8 Jack GAndy March 4, 2013 at 10:58 am

I would probably choose option #3, and ask the pastor for his opinion. If nothing else, this takes the responsibility off of my interpretation and places is squarely with church leadership. Whatever answer he gives, I have made a effort.

9 Mark March 5, 2013 at 10:30 am

Thanks for stopping by and offering a reasonable answer, Jack.

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