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Since our ministry began, I’ve asked myself some serious questions.  One of them — what constitutes a ‘church service’?  What I’ve learned, is that we tend to allow our tradition, and not scripture, to answer that question.  The Bible never describes a ‘church service’ as people reverently sitting in sanctuary pews, while singing hymns and listening to a well-dressed pastor.  Can a ‘church service’ look like that?  Sure!  But it’s not what actually defines a ‘church service’.

The Underground Church

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of being a part of a short-term missions team.  I’ll never forget experiencing an underground youth group.  Yes, they sang songs.  Yes, they heard from God’s Word.  But other than that, the ‘service’ looked NOTHING like what the average North American would call a ‘church service.’

It was full of community, unity, friendship, authentic connection, love, and selflessness.  Their goal wasn’t to serve themselves and welcome Jesus to ‘their service’, their goal was to celebrate Jesus through their community and serve Jesus.

A ‘church #service’ is about #Communion together as we celebrate Jesus. #unity #community #Acts2 Click To TweetWhat did I learn?  A ‘church service’ is about communion together as we celebrate Jesus.  Outside of the basics, the format doesn’t really matter.  The only fundamentals we know of, include teaching the Word, breaking of bread, fellowship, and prayer (Acts 2:42).

So, what if we planned a service around one of the most significant aspects of our faith?  What if Holy Communion was actually the focus of our service?  What if we didn’t just ‘partake’ together, but actually ate together, like Jesus’ and his disciples did during the Last Supper?  (Check out What Happens During Communion? for more.)

Planning A ‘Communion Meal Service’

The church where I serve (Bethel Bay Roberts) has organized two ‘Communion Meal Services’ in the recent past.  We had one during our morning service as well as one in the evening.  Both services included worship, Scripture, prayer, teaching, eating a meal together (breakfast and deep-fried turkey, respectively), Communion, testimonies, and prayer for healing.

Many have asked what exactly we did and how we went about planning such an event, so I thought I’d share some tips and ideas that we’ve learned along the way.

1. Pray, Plant, Plan, and Prepare

I wish I could say this idea was without objection, but that’s not the case.  Not everyone will allow their tradition to step aside to experience something new.  That’s alright, but if you want to plan and implement a successful Communion Meal, you’ll need to do 4 P’s:

Want to organize a #Communion Meal? You'll need to #PRAY, #PLANT, #PLAN, and #PREPARE! Click To Tweet
  • Pray — throughout the whole process; the Spirit will guide you through the rest!
  • Plant — share the idea one-on-one, with as many people as possible, before the event. Share your heart and desire for unity and authentic community.
  • Plan — if you’re eating a meal together, you’ll need to plan just like any other dinner event. You’ll need to know how many will attend, what you’ll eat, who will cook, and where and when the service will take place.
  • Prepare — the better prepared you are for the event, the more relaxed you’ll be while leading a new ministry, and the more accepting the congregation will be.

2. Selfless Volunteers Are Needed

This kind of service cannot be conducted by one or two people.  This is a group effort.  But even more than that, it’s a selfless effort. The goal is to focus on Communion, not the praise of those volunteering.  That means, volunteers need to know that they are volunteering so that the service can run smoothly, and with purpose.

Don't derail the Spirit by praising anyone other than #Jesus; remember to remain a #selfless #volunteer. Click To TweetFor example, sometimes there are moments where we can ‘thank the cooks’ like a regular social; but quite often, there are Spirit-led moments that could potentially be derailed if we did so.  My point — don’t derail the Spirit by praising anyone other than Jesus; remember to remain a selfless volunteer.

We are fortunate to have many volunteers who see value in the ministry, not just their time.

3. Service Format

Our goal was to bring the Passover tradition, the Last Supper, and our modern day Communion service all together.  How did we do that?  We transformed our sanctuary into a Communion Banquet.  We have pew chairs, so we were able to rearrange our seating into rows of tables, instead of rows of chairs.

We dimmed the lights, had some music playing softly as people arrived, and had a PowerPoint slide asking people, “Find a table; be respectful.”  It’s easy to loose the sacredness of the moment when you know you’re about to eat a meal together.  Strategically setting the atmosphere will help keep the Communion Meal sacred.Strategically setting the #atmosphere will help keep the Communion Meal #sacred. Click To Tweet

The service went something like this:

  • Worship — we had a short time of acoustic worship;
  • Scripture — we read a passage of scripture (Luke 22:7-8, 14-20);
  • Prayer — prayed for our service to God, the new experience, and a fresh sense of unity;
  • Teaching (History) — we walked through the Passover meal and what the disciples and Jesus would have celebrated each year during this time;
  • A Meal — we didn’t eat a traditional Passover meal, rather a meal we would normally eat as a congregation;
  • Teaching (Connection) — how the Last Supper was the ‘last Passover meal’ and the ‘first new Covenant meal’ and why we participate today;
  • Communion — we shared from ONE loaf (each took one piece) and ONE cup (poured in small containers on each table), read Scripture and dipped the bread into the juice and ate together;
  • Testimonies — had a time of sharing God’s faithfulness (open to who would like to share), which naturally led to sharing prayer requests; and,
  • Prayer for healing — we prayed for and anointed those with needs, which led to a powerful sense of unity and community as people tuned into to the Spirit and acted in obedience.

One thing we missed out on, was an offering of benevolence.  In honor of celebrating the selflessness of Jesus, in our next Communion Meal, we will take up an offering that will help those in need in the community.

Overall, our Communion Meals have been some of the most powerful services I’ve ever been a part of.  It’s not the idea, the leadership, the good food, or the planning; it’s the power behind sharing a sacred meal together and allowing the Spirit to use those moments to fuel our ‘passion for the Kingdom’!

Your turn…

What are some creative ways you’ve shared in Communion?

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