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Communion Alternatives

 —  April 14, 2014 — 22 Comments

I could use your input. Maybe someone else can, too.

Got 60 seconds?

Communion FullA typical communion service focuses on the death/crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

This weekend on Easter Sunday I’m hoping to present it in a way that doesn’t just reflect the cross of Christ but also the Resurrection.

Normally we use a cup of juice and broken bread or crackers. One thought I have is to vary our elements -

  • Instead of juice, we’ll use grapes
  • Instead of crackers, we’ll use freshly baked bread.

So what do you think of this?

  • Is it appropriately creative or too creative?
  • Can you think of any other ideas that could also work?

At minimum, I’d appreciate your feedback. At maximum, how can we take appropriate risks in telling the Story of the Resurrection?

Thanks!

Tony Myles

Tony Myles

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Tony Myles is a youth ministry veteran, author, speaker, volunteer youth worker and lead pastor of Connection Church in Medina, Ohio... and he really likes smoothies.

22 responses to Communion Alternatives

  1. We’ve used Matzah bread as an alternative in the past, something more like Christ would have actually used at the Last Supper.

    If you really want to shake it up, what if you used pancakes and syrup (doesn’t everyone do a sunrise service on Easter? A new day, a new beginning, a new breakfast…)? It may be a little too much.

  2. I used to use other things like a fresh loaf of bread we tore and so forth, but have gotten back to the original “bread” (matzah) and “wine” (for us/students, grape juice) since I’ve come to understand the origins of Communion in the Passover Seder. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it necessarily, but I’ve come to value celebrating communion in a way that’s closer to how Jesus did.

    • Tony Myles

      That’s cool, Will. I think that’s a great teaching tool, too – to explain the Jewish heritage that Jesus ministered in that Christianity was birthed through. Good stuff.

  3. What about something after communion to represent the resurrection? I don’t feel like grapes represent Christ’s blood the same as wine/juice. You could have traditional communion, and then something celebratory afterwards to represent the resurrection.

    • Tony Myles

      That’s a great idea, Sarah. We’re singing “Amazing Grace / My Chains Are Gone” afterward. What if we passed out a broken chain link? Do you think that could symbolize the Resurrection?

  4. My church uses grapes sometime. It drives me nuts. I feel like it gets too far away from the blood of Christ. I get it, grapes make wine, but just something about chewing the “blood of Christ” that isn’t right. That being said, I’m the only one on my staff who feels that way, so perhaps I’m super sensitive.

    • Tony Myles

      Completely valid, Jon. Honestly – that’s what I’m trying to consider here. Even if 10% of the church gets sidetracked by the idea, “is it worth it” if the other 90% amplify their worship?

  5. I’m not too keen on the idea of grapes either. Maybe grape juice as the blood and pass a loaf of bread and let everyone tear off a bit of it. Alternative for the loaf of bread, maybe some soft pita bread or a soft tortilla. Then to represent the resurrection a bit of orange juice because that is always refreshing. Orange juice can also be presented as oranges cannot grow without alot of sun to make them grow, therefore, we needed the son’s sacrifice to pay out sin debt and help us grow as Christians. (This sounded alot better in my head.)

    • Tony Myles

      I hear you, Patricia. In the past I’ve used grapes on Good Friday as a way for people to create juice – i.e. “Squeeze this into the cup, realizing that Jesus body was pressed for you so His blood could flow for your sins.” Appreciate the riffing of orange juice as an option – that’s what I appreciate about conversations like this as we get to the value beneath the value.

  6. We use fresh bread almost everytime we do communion. The cool part about it is that a family spends the evening before, together, preparing the bread. It is a ministry to them. The grandfather started it many years ago and he passed a few years back and so the grandma, kids, in-laws and grand kids all chip in and prepare the bread. It may be the story of how we get it, but I love seeing and taking that bread. Maybe there is someone who is willing to prepare the bread for you. It may be the start of something special.

    • Tony Myles

      Hmm… that’s an angle I hadn’t considered. Having a family provide the elements. Maybe that can be a part of telling the story of the Resurrection – the communion elements themselves (to tell the story of the Cross) and a household who have been changed by Jesus (that’s the new life).

  7. “Communion” is a derivative of one portion of the Passover meal the Lord ate with His disciples. The unleavened bread represents the sinlessness of Jesus; the wine represents His blood shed for our sins. To tamper with these elements would be to consider the body and blood of our Lord as something less than they are. Some things may be okay to change, but this is one of the valid traditions of the faith in which Paul said we should stand fast and hold on to (2 Thess. 2:15).
    Also, Easter Sunday has no merit in God’s economy. That is a religious tradition, not a biblical truth. The Lord did not rise on a Sunday. It’s impossible to reconcile a Sunday resurrection with His Words that He would be in the tomb for three days and three nights. As He was placed in the tomb near sundown on Passover Day, He would have had to rise near sundown three days later, which would have been the weekly Sabbath. The Sabbath after His death was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which was also a Sabbath (a “High Day” [Jn. 19:31].
    You can get an in-depth study of this from http://www.mediaspotlight.org. Or write to PO Box 640 – Sequim, WA 98382 for a free copy.
    It’s time the Body of Christ understood the difference between Christian myths and biblical truth.

    • Tony Myles

      Thanks for your comment, Al. I appreciate your reverence for the Scriptures… and I feel it especially in regards to the Communion elements and their symbolism. Per the dateline of when it all happened, I see some alternative options that support the traditional understanding. Since that’s not the focus of my question, though, I’ll look for a future opportunity to talk about that. Have a great Holy Week – whenever you celebrate it.

  8. I love the creativity… One word of caution, though. As an Anglican, who began as a baptist, I can tell you that many people get highly offended when you mess with Communion. I completely understand the desire to make things fresh… But kids who may be “nominal” but have any traditional background and perhaps are visiting with their friends can be so highly offended that you’ll never get them to consider a more personal relationship with Christ. Please don’t hear condemnation … Just something that I’ve found to be true. On a side note… We use wine and bread. I’ve never heard any complaints from parents.

    • Tony Myles

      Well said, Greg. That’s the kind of accountability I was searching for… and the other side of the coin is how we remember that God is off-the-charts-creative, too. He didn’t make it a habit to repeat His miracles, for example, and yet had all of these traditions in the Old Testament to teach doctrine/theology/Story. Navigating this tension can be tricky, especially in churches where we tend to lean on one side of that versus the other. One of the tragedies of church history is that often, people have associated the practices of the church with greater emphasis than the One we’re trying to connect with. Tradition is the elephant in the room, for while it is an on-ramp to the highway it isn’t the highway in itself. Thanks for challenging the process on this!

  9. Isaiah Surbrook April 16, 2014 at 8:42 am

    Instead of playing with the elements themselves why not change the delivery style? One of the favorite things we started was having families serve each other. So instead of lines of people coming forward to get the bread and juice or plates passing down the pews we have the pastors serve the family unit up front and then that family serve the next family and so forth. It is a great teaching moment to show that Christ wants us to serve others and not just ourselves.

    • Tony Myles

      Great thought, Isaiah. There’s something about talking about the personal element of Christ caring about you and then having someone personally serve you Communion. Maybe that represents the Resurrection somehow, too – the personal aspect of Jesus coming back, letting His disciples touch the wounds in His hand, and so on. Like this a lot!

  10. Isaiah Surbrook April 23, 2014 at 8:39 am

    So, what did you decide to do???

  11. I know this is an older conversation, but I’ve used everything from pita bread to matza crackers to a broken loaf of bread. Grape juice is pretty typical, but I try to change up either the form of the bread or the way in which we take the elements (either together as a group, individually with personal reflection, etc). One time, I actually used a box of donuts & hawaiian punch to illustrate that the “meal” is about the common ground of coming together for the same purpose (to remember Christ & proclaim His death), and it can take place at any time with anything you have at hand (as long as your purpose & intention is in line).

    We have a lot of students that still remember the occasion with the donuts, and the importance of why we did it was more important than what we used. :)

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