Non-Catholic Christians: Why monthly communion instead of weekly or daily communion service?


#1

This question may pertain to those Protestant Community that practice monthly communion instead of weekly communion services.

Why do most Protestant churches have monthly communion service, or none at all? Did not Jesus commanded his Apostles, “Do this in remembrance of me?”

Scripture Reference:

Acts 20:7

On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul…"

Luke 24:35

35 And they told what things were done in the way; and how they knew him in the breaking of the bread.

Acts Of Apostles 2:42

42 And they were persevering in the doctrine of the apostles, and in the communication of the breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts Of Apostles 20 Found 2

11 Then going up, and breaking bread and tasting, and having talked a long time to them, until daylight, so he departed


#2

Yeah, but he didn’t say how often.:smiley:


#3

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.


#4

Historically, this arose from the medieval custom of infrequent lay communion. Most laypeople received communion one to three times a year, even though they might attend Mass daily (if they were very devout). People saw the Eucharist as something so holy and awe-inspiring that they didn’t dare receive communion frequently, for fear of being insufficiently prepared. The Protestant Reformers (with the exception of Zwingli) advocated weekly communion (at least), but they couldn’t overcome this attitude among the laity.

Since the Reformers thought that the only purpose of the Eucharist was communion, they only offered it when they could find a congregation willing to receive. This meant that the Eucharist came to be offered relatively infrequently–often quarterly or even only once or twice a year, but sometimes as often as every month.

Over time, this notion of “unworthiness” diminished both in Catholicism and in Protestantism. (Perhaps we have gone to the other extreme, in fact.) However, in Protestantism the custom of infrequent communion was established. And in Protestantism, the decline of a sense of unworthiness went along with the rise of rationalism and the growth of a spiritualizing understanding of Christianity–i.e., that what really mattered was to believe the right things or to be a good person or to have some inner experience, all of which could easily lead to the sacraments being sidelined. (One of the questions that led me into the Reformation as a field of scholarly study was just how much of modern Protestantism really comes from the Reformation, and how much from the 18-19th centuries.) Some Protestants, such as the “Christian Churches and Churches of Christ,” did adopt weekly communion. But most did not–they had come to see the Eucharist as nothing more than a memorial (which was NOT the predominant view of the Reformers), and as others have mentioned they argued that it is more “special” if you do it less frequently.

With the rise of the liturgical movement in the mainline denominations (and more recently among some of the evangelical denominations as well), more frequent communion became the norm. But “more frequent” generally means monthly. Some Methodist churches (the mainline denomination that I know best, other than the Anglicans) have weekly communion, usually at an early service. The Anglicans used to do this, but almost all have now moved to weekly communion at the main service. Many Methodists are trying to move in that direction, but there’s a lot of resistance in “the pews.”

Edwin


#5

They did weekly during the days of the Apostles why not continue that Christian tradition by receiving Communion weekly. I know of course the Anglican community does weekly communion…as well those who somewhat maintain Catholic “tradition.”


#6

Not sure why really. I feel that weekly if not more often would be what a Christian would want.


#7

Our church has Communion four times a year. In addition, when we had 3 ministers it was available weekly in a separate Chapel we have in the church. Personel problems has us with only one minister at present so the weekly Communion is not available at present. We are in the process of calling a second minister and hopefully it will start again in the new year. It will be up to the Kirk Session though (the church elders)


#8

<>

Whether you need it or not, huh? :wink:

It was that way in my Baptist church before I got saved and left it.

It’s interesting that even the non-Chalcedonian Eastern Churches, which have not been in communion with Rome for centuries and nearly millennia, have the Eucharist AT LEAST every Sunday, if not more frequently, and believe it’s truly the Body and Blood of Christ.

So you can’t say this is something that nasty ole pope feller came up with.


#9

oh, absolutely not. Even some Protestants believe in the Real Presence.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.