I think one of the most stressful moments for visitors in our assemblies is the Lord’s Supper. I’ve grown up attending congregations of the Church of Christ, and I still feel that to some degree. Exactly how does this congregation carry out this act?
Typically the bread isn’t a problem. I may not know exactly what’s going to be in the tray/basket, but I know that I’m supposed to take a piece and eat it. Sometimes you’ll be expected to hold it until everyone is served, but that’s usually explained.
The cup is more of a concern. Do I take the cup, drink it and put it back? Do I take the cup, pass the tray, then drink the cup and place it in the little hole next to the songbook rack? Do I take the cup, pass the tray, then wait for the tray to be passed a second time to put the cup back?
Many Hispanic congregations stand when taking the Lord’s Supper. I discovered “the hard way” that one is expected to sit after being served the cup. For some visitors, that could be extremely embarrassing, discovering that they are the only ones left standing. (OK, it was embarrassing for me, but I could laugh it off)
For the outsider, the stress is even higher. Are they expected to participate? Will they offend if they don’t? Will they offend someone by taking part when they aren’t expected to? Worse yet, will someone publicly reprimand them if they do something wrong?
In my experience, churches rarely explain the mechanics of the Lord’s Supper, even though our tradition of congregational autonomy leads to varying practices. I think it’s something we need to be sensitive to. It never hurts to explain things, even when they seem obvious to us.
What suggestions do you have?