Sunday, May 14, 2023


It is well known that the early church in Jerusalem dedicated itself to four things: the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers. In that respect, it became the model for all churches everywhere until the Lord returns.

As the 21st century church eases its way into Laodicean self-congratulation and apathy, let me ask you which of these four is most likely to fall by the wayside?

Falling by the Wayside

Some might say fellowship, and there is a certain validity to that view: the quality of Christian fellowship has suffered greatly in the present era of individuality, independence and occupation with the online world. Some might say the apostles’ teaching, and it is certainly true that much of the evangelical world has recently jettisoned some very important principles of apostolic doctrine, and continues to do so. Some might say prayers, in that biblical prayer is much misunderstood and praying in the name of Christ even more so.

Still, I’ve got to cast my vote for the breaking of bread. The weekly remembrance of the Lord is quickly becoming a thing of the past among the people of God, and I would argue it may be the most important activity in which the church is called to engage. What good is apostolic doctrine with Christ left out of it? It’s simply a bunch of rules of procedure with nothing to proceed toward. How may we approach the Father in prayer if not through the Son? We can understand devout pagans doing so, but not those Christ’s own blood has bought. And what is fellowship if it is not first and foremost Christ-centered? Any secular club or society could provide the same bland camaraderie.

Frankly, if the Lord is not in our midst when we gather, and not central in our minds and hearts, why gather at all?

Not Us! We Don’t Do That!

Confronted with such accusations, churches that have backburnered the Lord’s Supper or abandoned it altogether would quickly respond that in doing so they have not forgotten Christ. Not at all. They would argue he remains central to their gathering despite not being celebrated on a weekly or even monthly basis. But if this is truly the case, why sideline the very symbology he initiated in the upper room? How is it possible to “remember the Lord” without consciously choosing to do so, without setting aside a time uniquely his in every gathering of God’s people?

That’s what he asked his disciples for, isn’t it? It is in the regular eating of the bread and drinking of the cup that we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. To proclaim it verbally without proclaiming it symbolically is like pronouncing myself a New England Patriots fan without wearing the sweater, checking the standings, watching the games or cheering when the ball gets caught in the end zone. It is a proclamation of loyalty empty of content.

This is no idle concern. In the final message to the churches in Revelation, we see Christ outside the church entirely, standing at the door and knocking in search of fellowship with those who see the importance of sitting and eating with their Lord. Let me suggest many of our churches are already in that state and others will shortly follow.

Do It Yourself

One or two of our readers may attend churches that have minimized or abandoned the breaking of bread. Am I suggesting they should go elsewhere? Perhaps, perhaps not. There are churches that still follow the teaching of the Lord with respect to the sharing of bread and wine, and yet are deader than dead in other ways: constricted by traditions, oblivious to the need to make disciples, feeding only themselves — and not at a very high level either. Likewise, some of the churches that have abandoned the Lord’s Supper have not yet completely lost their understanding of the centrality of Christ in all things: they are just acting inconsistently with their professed love of the Savior. If you attend one of the former, let me suggest that raising the dead may be above your pay grade. If you attend one of the latter, and the love of Christ is genuine, perhaps there is hope.

What I am suggesting is this: if in your regular gathering, the Lord’s Supper is either dead or gone missing, do it yourself. DIY.

I mean it. Do it yourself. Break bread with your family members and everybody in your church who has a heart for it. Open up your home for a weekly remembrance gathering.

Ten Thousand New Christians Can’t Be Wrong

The Lord’s Supper was not given to the church, it was given to disciples; the church did not yet exist when the Lord Jesus instituted it. Celebrating it did not require the presence of pastors or elders or anyone with a teaching gift; elders had yet to be named and the gifts of the Spirit had yet to be given. The first one did not take place on a Sunday morning; it happened “on the night when he was betrayed”. The early church did not break bread to remember the Lord in mortgaged buildings, but in private homes. (The argument that “breaking bread in their homes” does not refer to remembering the Lord, but rather to the eating of common meals, is a frivolous one that hardly merits discussion; it should be obvious that as many as ten thousand new Christians did not pass a common cup in Solomon’s Portico. Where else would they have done it?)

The Lord’s Supper does not belong to elders and pastors and paid church leaders; it belongs to all God’s people. Our obedience to the word of Christ does not turn on their cooperation or initiative. We owe it to him to make him central in our lives, and we cannot do that if we will not do the most basic things he asked us to do. Our leaders have no authority from the Head of Church to thwart his expressed will by prioritizing other things in the gatherings of God’s people.

Do this,” he said. So do it.

From House to House

Do it yourself. Don’t leave your church over a minimized Lord’s Supper if it has other good things going for it. But don’t let the Lord’s commands slip away from you either. You get a twofer out of the deal: you get to invite the Lord in when he knocks, and at the same time, you get to obey all those New Testament commands to be hospitable. So take that Wednesday night Bible Study cell group and turn it into a celebration of Christ. Or start your own. Don’t complain about what your church isn’t doing if you can’t be bothered to take the initiative to make it happen.

Hey, if your elders or pastor don’t like it, the most effective way to fight a pandemic of house-to-house Lord’s Suppers would be for them to re-establish or up the frequency and quality of your local church’s scheduled remembrance times.

Now THAT would be a desirable outcome.

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