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WFMW- Explaining Communion to Kids

November 6, 2007

wfmwheader_162.jpg  I’m so glad that this is backwards WFMW because I have a question that I really need some help with.  My church takes Communion twice a month and the last Sunday we do it the kids stay in church to participate too (as opposed to going back early for children’s church).  My son is starting to ask some questions about what Communion is and I have no idea on how to break it down to something that he can understand (he’s 4 1/2).  My belief is that he shouldn’t participate until he has accepted Christ as his savior.  I know that a lot of people let their young kids take Communion and that’s fine for them, but for my family I want to wait until they can really understand what it means.  I think that it’s sacred and I want my children to know that.  Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

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23 Comments leave one →
  1. kingschild permalink
    November 7, 2007 11:55 am

    I would talk about the purpose of communion, which is coming together to remember Jesus and what He did for us.

    I would also focus on how the communion elements are symbols that represent Christ’s body and blood that help us to remember the sacrifice that He made for us.

    At 4 1/2 your son should be able to understand this, or at least ask clarification questions that will help you to make it even clearer for him.

    4 & 5 year olds are definitely able to understand that symbols represent/stand for/remind us of things.

    • July 26, 2009 7:30 pm

      this was very helpful (: it was easy to understand (: thank-you xx,

  2. November 7, 2007 12:27 pm

    Well, I am Catholic and I know we have different beliefs re:Communion, but in our family and church one can’t receive Communion until they have reached the age of reason (and usually taken a class). First Communion is a really big deal.

    My littlies always want to participate, though. I just tell them that they can’t do it until they are ready, and they are not ready yet. If they push it, I tell them that Mom and Dad will help them know when they are ready, but in our family this is how we do things.

    As for what Communion is, just read the story of the Last Supper out of the Bible, emphasizing that Christ told us to “Do this to remember me” (I paraphrased to kid language, obviously!) If you really want to go hog wild, look up Melchizedek in the OT (Gen. 14:18), who offered bread and wine for Abraham (when God revealed Himself as One and a personal God, not just a local deity). Then maybe talk about one of the ways we would know the Messiah was that he’d be a priest in the order of Melchizedek. That is, the Messiah would offer bread and wine. (Psalm 110:4, Hebrews chapter 5 and 6)

    I use the “well, in OUR family WE do….” a lot.

  3. November 7, 2007 3:32 pm

    My first remembrance of comprehending salvation was around age 9 and it was tied to communion. My parents explained why I couldn’t participate (they wanted me to wait until I was baptized as a sign of my decision to follow Christ) and they explained how the elements reminded us of Christ’s sacrifice for us.

    My kids have seen the Jesus film and that’s where they began to understand Jesus’ death on the cross. Kids definitely understand sin and even punishment, so explaining that our sin is worthy of a severe punishment like death is not beyond their comprehension. I explained to my daughter that it is as if she deserved a spanking and her dad decided HE would get the spanking instead (substitutionary atonement in kids language).

    It’s worth trying to explain to a 4 year old, but I would be prepared to explain it again in a few more years too.

  4. bloginmyeye permalink
    November 7, 2007 5:47 pm

    Hmmm, at our previous church, we had a wonderful children’s minister who was available for and wonderful at talking to the kids about such things. Is your church able to offer any guidance or counsel? My daughter started showing interest at about that age. You might be surprised at what he does understand if you just ask him some open ended questions. We recently started letting our 2 year old son commune because he was showing a strong interest and a very clear developmentally appropriate understanding of it. (Not that you have to follow in our footsteps, of course. Just that I was very surprised at how strong and how touching his desires and understanding were) My husband blogged about it here:

    http://bloginmyeye.wordpress.com/2007/08/21/jesus-bread/

    Of course, most importantly, pray about it. Ask God what to do and ask Him for the words to discuss this with your son. He is faithful.

    God bless, -e.

    Enjoyed stumbling upon your blog today!

  5. November 7, 2007 9:23 pm

    It does depend on your beliefs like Milehamama said. I was a children’s pastor for several years and altho’ we taught on it, we didn’t do it w/the kids b/c so many people have different ideas on it. (Like when kids are old enough, etc.)

    I personally think, you want to lay a foundation for your child to love the things of God. So, on his level, you talk to him about it. I’m sure he understands some symbols. Or how you eat special things on special days (turkey on thanksgiving, etc.) So, on a very basic level, you can tell him that this “meal” is to remember Jesus. You don’t have to EXPLAIN everything to him. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to say “you’re too little”. He little heart is open and receptive to God. He’s desiring something of the Lord’s. I’m not suggesting you let him take communion, unless you want to, but I think it’s important that he feels involved and understands it on his level.

    Was that too rambly?! :)

  6. January 23, 2008 12:03 pm

    i think holy communion is very close 2 jesus

  7. Lisa permalink
    January 3, 2009 11:00 pm

    I came across this site while searching for a closely related topic. I read the subject, then when I noticed the dates of the postings I walked away. But the Lord brought me back here for some reason…so here it goes.

    I was brought up Catholic. In that particular religion, children do not receive communion until they receive the “proper” training to understand what the sacrament means. I am no longer a Catholic…but the traditions and beliefs I followed for 20 years had a very strong hold on me. Communion was a very important sacrament to me even after I left the Catholic church. I am a Christian, and I belong to a church whose pastors were former Catholics themselves. The first time the church participated in communion in my presence, I was surprised to see the children… participating in communion. My Catholic background made it seem sacraligious for those not trained to participate.

    It did not take me long to realize that Jesus Himself just asked for a childlike faith for us sinners, to come to Him. I now teach Sunday school for the pre-school class (ages 3-5). I have the honor of serving them communion once a month. The privilege of teaching those young minds of why we celebrate communion. They are not too young to understand. They listen, partake, and maybe ask questions…but they do understand.

    It may be too late to answer your question, but God willing, another person with the same question may come across this site, read my post, and have their question answered.

    God bless!

    • Becky permalink
      August 11, 2009 11:37 pm

      I’m glad you came back to this site and shared your views and experience even though it had been a while since the last postings. You started a new dialogue and there have been some other great entries since then. I ‘happened’ (God’s hand I think) upon the site by googling ‘kids and communion’! I have been concerned about my five(almost six) year old who very much wants to participate in communion. Although he prayed to accept Jesus as his Savior and I believe is very sincere, I wanted to wait until he had a better understanding and I saw more “fruit” in his life, if you know what I mean (he is a very challenging strong-willed child). While visitng my sister’s church, I was singing up front with my brother during communion and did not even notice that my son went ahead and took communion for the first time (my aunt figured he had done it before – I had meant to prepare her but forgot). I was a little disappointed I was not right with him, but told him how special it was. Now I don’t want to go back and say he has to wait, so we let him participate again, making sure he understood what it meant. God is at work in his heart and that is what is important. Thank you – I feel better about my decision to allow him to participate even though children do not regularly participate at our church (I have had to go down and get my nine-year-old from children’s church so she could participate). I found some good material online from “Keys to Kids Ministry” that has a detailed explanation of communion especially for kids (Wesleyan Publishing House). I would still like to go through that with my children even though they’ll probably say “We know what it means, Mom!” Hopefully they will enjoy going a little deeper – I certainly have! God bless you and your ministry to His youngest followers.

    • Marilyn Sherrod permalink
      July 10, 2011 8:39 am

      Thank you so much! Your comment was a Blessing!

      Marilyn

  8. Karen permalink
    March 3, 2009 8:38 am

    Just stumbled upon this discussion through a google search. I was wondering how to handle my son’s first experience receiving communion. He is in first grade and we have recently left a Catholic parish and started attending services at an Episcopal church. Although the children in the Episcopal church are welcome to receive communion as early as the family would like, I want my son to wait until second grade when he will better understand it. I thank all of you for your words of wisdom. They will help me to better prepare my son for the first time he receives communion.

  9. Felix permalink
    July 4, 2009 10:38 pm

    It seems to me that the ones who are in desperate need of understanding the sacrament of Communion is the parents. This tradition was initiated by God in the book of Exodus (Exit/Freedom), and it carries the message of deliverance through grace (not deserved) for all, including children. The Hebrews call it “Passover.” When Jesus celebrated the Passover He did not have a lamb. Instead, He took “bread” and called it His body because it represented Himself as the lamb. Now, if we read carefully, Jesus fulfilled what was established as a message to carry on with the plan of announcing/remembering His sacrifice. And this was done with everyone in the house, including visitors. I grew up in a church where baptism was required prior to receiving communion, but the question here is:
    what is God expecting from us as parents? Allow our young ones to be/partake/feel as part of the body of Christ (the Church)? or, try to prepare them for what they are already a part of. The Word of God, clearly, says through the words of Jesus himself “allow the children to come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.” Misunderstanding grace may lead us to block our own generation from reaching what our Lord has already provided for us. There was a time when I did not serve Communion to children. But the years as Sr. pastor, and deeper study of the Word has opened the Revelation that Communion is for the church. Joseph was not an adult when he had the dreams of future events. Samuel was a child when he heard the voice of God. King David was not a Soldier when he defeated Goliath. Neither was Jesus when he discussed the Scriptures in the Synagogue. What they had in common was a relationship with The Lord. Bottom line, our children do not have the need to be “theologians” in order to partake of Communion. This is strictly by the Word, no religion/denomination considered, after all, Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords without the need of either.

    • John Hamilton permalink
      January 2, 2010 8:36 pm

      Loved your remarks! Inspired and inspiring! Thanks.

  10. July 26, 2009 2:29 pm

    I don’t know if you have heard about this yet or not, but I am excited to tell you about a children’s book I have written and recently had published on LuLu.com! It is a book about communion that is specifically geared for kids of various ages.

    The book includes a simple explanation of what Communion is (an Evangelical Protestant view). It also explains who Jesus is, why He came to earth, why He sacrificed Himself for our sins, and simple steps for trusting in Jesus as Savior. It is intended for parents or teachers to read to their children and discuss along the way. Those with special learning needs may also be able to benefit from this book because it has a combination of simple, black & white illustrations and easy words.

    This was sort of like a family project, as my dad did most of the illustrations for the book, and my husband was the Copy Editor. Also, one of my previous pastors, Rev. Gary E. Gilley from Southern View Chapel in Springfield, IL, wrote the Foreword. He is the author of several books as well, including “Is That You, Lord?”

    If you want to see a preview of the book, please click on the link below, then click on the title of the book. It may take a moment for the preview to show up.

    I hope this is helpful for you. I know of several who have already been helped by it, including my own children.

    ~ Victoria L. Stankus, Author ~

    http://stores.lulu.com/mygodissobig

    (The book is also available on Amazon.com)

  11. Becky permalink
    August 11, 2009 11:41 pm

    I entered my comment in reply to Lisa’s entry, but wanted to be sure to check the box to receive notice of follow-up comments this time:) Thank you.

  12. Rev Flem permalink
    June 8, 2010 4:05 am

    If you wait untill your child understand it, do you realise that some people are born as down sydrom and will never understand it. Some people have got children with mental illness but they come to church with us what are you saying about receiving communion only when you understand what it means. I beleive communion is for all people who come before God to receive it. I am sorry I am becoming upset, l hope this will help some people to understand

    • KCarmany permalink
      November 18, 2010 7:08 pm

      While I don’t believe in setting an “age” for kids to take communion, I do firmly believe that they must understand what it means.

      1 Corinthians 11:23-29 (New International Version)

      23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

      27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.

      I believe that we need to be careful of kids (or adults) taking so freely of communion that it becomes void of meaning. While some children are capable of understanding what communion is at a young age (ie. 4-5 years), others are not ready until they are much older. Each parent needs to wisely discuss it with their children and have them answer basic questions about communion in their own words. If a child does not understand, I do believe that it is our responsibility as parents and/or leaders to have them wait before participating.

      That being said, I do have some mentally handicapped kids in our group. Some of them, after years of attending, really do understand communion, and are supported by their parents in taking it. Others are not ready – so they don’t take it.

      Matthew 18:6 (New International Version)

      Causing to Stumble
      6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.

      • Tameka Wilson permalink
        April 10, 2011 6:50 pm

        I really thank you for the reply/comment you gave. It was very insightful. However, I wanted to know if there was a specific web site for questions to ask a child to ensure they understand the meaning and significance of communion. Thanks in advance.

  13. Pete Maidment permalink
    March 6, 2011 3:19 pm

    Thanks for this discussion, I was looking for a simple way of explaining communion to young people an stumbled across your discussion.

    My biggest issue is with the concept of not allowing children to take communion because they don’t understand what they are doing. The thing about Communion is that it is a mystery – you simply cannot understand it, if you think you do then you almost certainly don’t! Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God belonged to Children, they will get it when we adults don’t. Communion is a family meal, and so it is only right that we share it as a family – excluding no-one.

    Hope you don’t mind me posting!

  14. August 22, 2011 2:54 pm

    Thanks for the insight. I’m doing research and your blog popped up in the google queue. I’m also a SAHM and a freelance writer, as well as a home schooling mom.
    I appreciate your writing and will most likely be back to check out other posts. :)

  15. natlie permalink
    November 5, 2011 2:17 am

    My daughter has been taking communion since she could chew and drink! We also take communion at home as a family and don’t feel it is something that has to be done just in church, as this act is between ourselves and the Lord, not a priest or whoever. Jesus said all the children must come to Him, he didn’t say, wait u must first be baptized or take a class or two before u can sit on my lap! We must be careful not to allow religion and rituals to creep in and keep us and our children from experiencing the fullness He has for us. Jesus died for everyone no matter what age race or creed, communion is, us remembering this ultimate love sacrifice and confirming that if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, nothing can remove us from His hands. He did not come to condemn, but to set free!

  16. December 11, 2011 9:21 am

    This may not set well with some but it happens.
    I believe that part of the problem with the world today is that we let our children set their own guidelines and decide way too much. The bible is very clear about communion. Jesus does say “let the little ones come” but how many kids were mentioned at the last supper? It really concerns me when I see a child take communion before baptism and also when I see a child baptized at a very young age. We need to use our bible AND some common sense when dealing with these sort of issues. Do you really want your child to become liable for his/her religious actions at 4 or 5? Would you give a 2yr old a steak knife to cut his food with because “you believe he understands it’s use”? Use your head people.
    Read: 1 Corinthians 11:23-29 and Mathew 18:6

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