The Lord’s Supper – Who May Come To The Table?

The Lord’s Supper should be a wonderful moment of unity in the church of Christ. Sadly, there is debate and disagreement over (probably) every element imaginable.

One of those disagreements is over who should participate. Do you need to be a member of a church? Do you need to be baptised? What about children? Here is how we at Eaglehawk Presbyterian answer those questions.

Do I need to be baptised?

Yes. Confusion over this is often due to how little we think about the purpose of these two sacraments. Baptism is the rite of initiation, the ceremony in which someone is officially welcomed as part of Christ’s church. The Lord’s Supper is a meal through which Christ continually nourishes the faith of his church. Just like those wanting to join Old Testament Israel needed to first be circumcised before they could take the Passover (Exodus 12:48), so we must first be baptised before we take the Lord’s Supper.

A quote from Michael Horton is particularly helpful here: ‘If baptism is the bath for the beginning of the journey, the Supper is the table that God spreads in the wilderness along the way.’ We need to have the bath before we can join in the meal.

Do I need to be a member?

Yes. Those coming to the table are expected to be a member of a Christian church – whether of our church, another Presbyterian church, or any other Christian church. And they need to be a member in good standing – if someone is under discipline at their church and unable to take the Supper there, we pray they would respect that process of discipline and not seek to get around it by visiting another church!

There are multiple reasons for this, but the key reason is that the Supper is a communal meal (indeed, one of the names for the Lord’s Supper is ‘Communion’). We not only commune with Christ (1 Corinthians 10:16) as we eat at his table, but we also commune with one another (1 Corinthians 10:17) as the church comes together (1 Corinthians 11:18). For the church to come together, we have to know who’s in the church! That’s what membership identifies – with the wisdom that Christ gives his people, they determine whether someone’s profession in Christ is genuine, and whether they will commune with them in this meal.

Are children welcome to participate?

It depends! Are they full members of a church? Have they professed their faith publicly (either by being baptised as a believer, or giving a Profession of Faith if they were baptised as an infant)? One of the requirements given to those partaking is that they ‘examine themselves’ and be able to ‘discern the body’ (1 Corinthians 11:28-29). A young child is unable to do these things.

But how young is too young? This is where a conversation with the parents and the elders/leaders of the church is important. Taking the Supper is a great privilege, but it also comes with some danger (1 Corinthians 11:27, 30). We want to protect them from unknowingly abusing the Lord’s Supper. When it would be appropriate for a child to profess faith, and so be welcomed into membership and to the table of the Lord’s Supper requires the wisdom of both the parents and church leaders.


When I was growing up, I had this all reversed. I took the Lord’s Supper before I was baptised, in a church where it probably never crossed their mind to consider whether I had genuine faith. Did something terrible happen to me? No. Was it a heinous crime against the church? No. But it was inappropriate.

As a church, we want all things to be done with good order (1 Corinthians 14:40, Colossians 2:5). When we consider the importance and meaning of membership, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and any number of other issues related to what it means to function biblically as a church, we can see how seriously Christ regards his church.


The Lord’s Supper is for those who are baptised Christians, who have publicly professed their faith in Christ and been accepted as members of a local body of believers, and who have examined themselves. It is a privilege to participate in the Lord’s Supper. Let us do it with great joy!

Children in Church

How can Christian parents and the church best nurture the faith of the children in their care? It’s an important question, and one where churches respond with different answers. The main options are:

  • Children stay with the adults in the church service the whole time, or
  • Children leave the service at a certain time (whether it’s after a few songs, or only for the sermon) where they can have dedicated teaching.

Both methods desire children to develop their own faith, and neither is easy.

At Eaglehawk Presbyterian Church we love our children to stay with us for the whole service. We hope this article will help explain why, answer (some) questions, and offer some tips on how to help your children worship our God with you in the pew.

Why keep the children with us?

We believe one of the most significant ways we can parent as Christians is to worship with them, with the covenant community. There are struggles, but they are well worth it. Why?

  1. God made us to worship him

Whether we’re very young or very old, we’re here to worship God. This is why God created us (Gen 1:27; Psa 149:11-13), why we’ve been saved (Rom 12:1-2; Eph 1:4-5), and why we’ll be raised on the Last Day (Rev 19:6-8, 22:3-4).

  1. Worship is both individual and corporate

Throughout the Bible, people are called to worship God both as individuals and a community. In the New Testament we’re called to do everything to God’s glory (1 Cor 10:31), and to gather together (Heb 10:25). Together we are the flock (John 10:16), the body (1 Cor 12:12) and the temple (1 Cor 3:16). When someone is missing from the gathering, we all suffer for it.

  1. Gathered worship involves the Word, prayer, singing and sacraments

God gets to decide how people worship Him, and these are his appointed means. God’s word is to be preached (Neh 8:8; 2 Tim 4:2), we’re to pray (1 Tim 2:1; Col 4:2), sing (Col 3:16), and have baptisms and participate in the Lord’s Supper (Matt 28:19; 1 Cor 11:24-25).

There’s more to say about worship. Our worship should have integrity (not just hearing the Word, but believing and obeying), joy and awe. It should be encouraging and centre on God.

  1. Throughout the Bible, children are included in gathered worship

They take part in the feasts of Israel in the Old Testament (e.g. Passover [Exo 12:26-27]) because they are considered part of the people of God. This is why infant boys were given the sign and seal of the covenant (Gen 17:9-14). This continues in the New Testament. Whether you believe children of believers should receive baptism or not, they are part of the church. They receive the promises (Acts 2:38-39), and they are spoken to in the letters (e.g. Eph 6:1-3; Col 3:20).

  1. There are blessings that come with children worshipping with the church
  • They hear the Word preached. While it is beneficial for children to have the Bible taught at their level, there is also great benefit in them hearing God’s Word proclaimed to the whole church, and to sit under it themselves. They won’t understand everything, but they will pick things up quicker than we might think.
  • They see the sacraments (baptism and the Lord’s Supper). They will no doubt ask questions about this, which gives great opportunities to explain the gospel truths.
  • They join in prayer, hearing what the church prays for each week, and often learn how to pray themselves as they hear others.
  • They are with the church, surrounded by saints of all ages and walks of life who are examples as they worship with all their heart.
  • They are with their parents, learning from them what it means to worship God, seeing what is important to them.
  • It tells them that they can worship God too. It’s not an adult activity; it’s for them.
  • And it encourages the adults, older saints, as they see these young ones learning how to worship, learning the songs, learning to pray, starting to serve. The older ones are reminded of the call to have child-like faith.

Some tips

We know (all too well!) that children being in the service can be difficult. Parents with young children may feel they miss out on church for a long period of time, as they manage crying and squabbling children. Parents may fear their children will be bored.

But consider that we struggle through these challenges with other things we find important. We battle feeding our children what they need multiple times a day. When something is important to us, we want to include our children, even though they don’t understand the intricacies.

Parents don’t keep their kids away from footy until they can understand the rules – if they love the game they’ll have it on TV, take their kids to the games, and explain as needed. The child won’t always be paying attention, but they’ll learn that it’s a love of their parents, and as they experience it themselves it may become a love of theirs too.

So, what can parents do to help their children in gathered worship?

  1. Talk about church through the week. What were the sermon and songs about?
  2. Try not to make Saturday a late night, and be ready early on Sunday.
  3. Have family worship at home – read the Bible, pray, and sing together.
  4. Whisper to your child occasionally, telling them what hymn you love, or what you were challenged by in the sermon.
  5. Get help from others in the church.
  6. Encourage them to be involved – stand for the songs, give in the offering, bow their heads in the prayers.
  7. Don’t worry about what the other adults are thinking about you! We’re so glad to have children in the church!
  8. Encourage your children when they are behaving (don’t only speak to tell them off!)
  9. Be patient. Your children are learning, and so are you. Pray that they would encounter God through His Word

We know it’s not easy, but there are great moments of joy and blessing. Please join with us as we teach and model worship of our great God to our children.

(This is mostly a summary of Let the Children Worship by Jason Helopoulos – a small book that is highly recommended!)