Most of my Protestant life was spent in churches that did monthly communion. There were two exceptions: the Christian church offered communion at EVERY meeting, even business meetings, and the Evangelical Free Church that we attended offered communion only a few times a year.
This is just a guess, based on all those years of being evangelical Protestant. To evangelicals, the center of the worship service is the sermon or message. It is the main reason to come to church, to hear the preaching of the Word of God, the Bible. (In recent years, the praise and worship time has moved to a more prominent position in the evangelical worship service, but in most churches, the main purpose of going to church is to hear a sermon.)
To the evangelicals, communion is just a memorial ceremony, a symbolic act to remember the death of Jesus. ** It takes time away from the preaching of the Word. **
In most evangelical churches (at least until recently), communion is quite an elaborate ceremony. I remember all the deacons being “in step” as they marched down the aisle with the communion wafers and little glasses of grape juice. There are a lot of prayers and examination of conscience and passages of Scripture read to prove why we are doing this communion. Also, the deacons usually pass the elements up and down the aisle. The communion service takes a LONG time (I remember at least a half hour or more in a congregation of around 600).
That doesn’t leave much time for preachin’!
Also, in many Protestant churches in the past, all those pieces of matzo had to be broken BY HAND before the communion service, and afterwards, all the little cups had to be washed BY HAND. Although people were willing to volunteer to do this once a month, it is possible that churches found it difficult to recruit someone for every meeting. (Nowadays, many evangelical churches use disposable communion cups.)
Remember, evangelical churches don’t generally put much stock in “sacred tradition.” In the Bible, Christ didn’t specifically “command” churches to celebrate Communion at every meeting. So it is offered once a month, and the rest of the month is devoted to the presentation of the sermon.
Remember, these are just my theories and I may be wrong.
On the other hand, while we were still evangelical Protestant, we noticed an alarming trend to minimize the number of times per year that communion is offered. We knew of several churches that only had communion services four times per year.
Another thing that is happening is that they are making it “easier” to get communion. Some churches just leave the grape juice and matzo on a table at the back of the church and the bulletin tells everyone to “help themselves” if they feel led. In other words, there is never a formal “communion service.”
We found this very alarming. Protestant churches only have five sacraments left: Communion, Baptism, Marriage, Ordination, and Anointing the sick with Oil. (Yes, I realize that evangelical churches deny that these are sacraments! And yes, I realize that a Protestant anointing with oil is a whole lot different than the Catholic Anointing of the Sick, and that a Protestant ordination is not the same as an apostolic succession.)
But it seems that many evangelical churches are phasing out some of these “old traditions.” In the seven years that we attended the Evangelical Free church, there were only TWO baptismal services.
So what we wondered is–when are the evangelical churches going to eliminate “marriage” and just allow a couple to “call themselves married in the eyes of God.” ?
We were really alarmed by these trends, which was one of the many reasons we began asking questions and studying the Catholic church.