Membership on a list required for communion?

Discussion in 'Church Order' started by Davidius, Jan 7, 2009.

  1. Yes, visiting communicants must be on a membership roll

    27 vote(s)
  2. No, visiting communicants need not be on a membership roll

    31 vote(s)
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  1. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Does your church require that believers be on the membership roll of a church somewhere in order to receive communion, or is baptism enough? Even if visitors must still be interviewed by the elders of your church, the same question applies.
  2. Scottish Lass

    Scottish Lass Puritan Board Doctor

    Membership somewhere isn't a requirement to take the Lord's Supper in the ARP. Belief and baptism are required, of course.
  3. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Membership not required. However, the warning about partaking in an unworthy manner goes out (1 Cor 11). This should, I hope, convict a "Church-hopper" who is fleeing discipline to return home for the Lord's glory.
  4. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    You have to "be a member in good standing at an Evangelical Church" in order to receive communion at our church. (They announce this each Lord's Day, but they do not interview.)

    I personally believe that you should be offered communion, after hearing the warning, if you are a Christian, not a member of a church.
  5. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I was a visitor preaching in a church and this church supported me monthly yet barred me from the table because I was not a member of their local assembly. I felt like walking out and cutting contact.
  6. Scott1

    Scott1 Puritanboard Commissioner

    Probably, from Scripture, the Lord's Supper should be protected from:

    1) nonbelievers
    2) people joined to communions which do not hold to the Gospel
    3) disorderly believers

    This is very difficult but the Table is for the weak Christian and is a means of grace for strength so we don't want to make it unduly restrictive, especially subjectively.

    Generally, someone who has disassociated from the visible church (i.e. attendance) for an extended period is a disorderly believer. It doesn't necessarily mean someone not a member of a church, but does mean someone who has visibly denied the Body of Christ for an extended period, needs to repent (confess, forsake, make restitution, i.e. with good attendance and involvement) before jumping back into the Lord's Supper.

    I don't think one jumps right into the Lord's Supper as "repentance" but "examines themselves" first, repents and then partakes (the process taking the time to bear out the repentance). I'm not positive about this, but think that is the trajectory of Scripture on this. The Lord's Supper is not to be taken lightly.

    How do you "fence" the table from all that and make it clear to everyone? It is difficult, but I think a warning for nonbelievers to abstain and consider their need for Christ and a statement like, "If you are a member in good standing of a church where this Gospel is preached, this Table is for you," is a good faith attempt at it.
  7. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    We basically the following 3 types to the Lord's Table:
    • members of our church in good standing
    • members of another evangelical church in good standing
    • interview with the Session and their approval
  8. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member

    Yes, that is the position of the PCA's BCO, and I believe the Biblically correct one. As an elder, I have admitted at least one person to the table in each category.
  9. Rocketeer

    Rocketeer Puritan Board Freshman

    In our church the table is guarded by two elders; they just stand at the sides, and if someone who should not be there approaches the table, they have the task of stopping him or her from the table. I've never seen it happen.

    Our pastor has, though; at one time there even was someone weak of mind, not a member of the church, nor having applied beforehand, who wanted to partake, so they tried to dissuade her, which was impossible, and as they did not want to use force, they allowed her to sit, but the pastor did not pass her bread. So when they passed around the cup she tried to grab it, but I don't think she succeeded. Worrying, though.
  10. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    How can that be established? By a card? By a letter? Or is it based on the word of the individual?
  11. PresbyDane

    PresbyDane Puritanboard Doctor

    The pastor is there to shepard the believer.
    If an unknown person comes in how is the pastor to know whether or not that person is under church disciplin in another church and that is why he has chosen to come to a new one.
  12. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    The PCA BCO says the following:

    I believe there are only two options for a Session based on this wording.

    1) They may invite all members in good standing of an evangelical church (no examination required by this Session), or

    2) They may invite all those who have been approved by the Session (examination required for everyone by this Session)

    Based on this wording (I think the “may either … or may” is an exclusive or condition), a Session must exercise consistency in the way they fence the table, choosing either option (1) or option (2).

    I do not believe option (2) is for the purpose of allowing the Session to bring to the table those who are not members of any Church. I believe the purpose was to give a Session even more control and scrutiny over those who would come than is afforded by option (1). I believe, under option (2), it would still be expected that anyone wishing to come to the table would, if necessary, make public profession and be identified with the Visible Church to which the Word and sacrament belong (see BCO 2).
  13. Romans922

    Romans922 Puritan Board Professor

    How is a person baptized and not a member of a church? (Just want some opinions)
  14. Davidius

    Davidius Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Shepherding doesn't have to entail micromanaging every decision the person makes. If it is made clear that partakers must meet certain standards, and a visitor decides to partake anyway, that's his own problem.

    That's my question, as well. My wife was very hurt when she first started visiting 1st RP with us and wasn't able to commune because her name wasn't on some list somewhere, even though she had been baptized and faithfully attended her home church for 15 years.
  15. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    I would be curious how this all played out and whether the church did a good job in verbally fencing the table or else interviewing those that wanted to partake so that Judo moves and bobbing and weaving from Lord's-Supper-grabbers would be unneeded.
  16. Whitefield

    Whitefield Puritan Board Junior

    Maybe it is that person between being baptized and making a public profession of faith.
  17. tcalbrecht

    tcalbrecht Puritan Board Junior

    Was she baptized at the same church she attended for 15 years? How is it that she could be baptized and faithful attender of a church for 15 years and not be on their membership rolls? I’m not accusing, just curious. Did they not have a formal membership roll?
  18. Christusregnat

    Christusregnat Puritan Board Professor


    (kung foo movie voice):

    "youuuuu come, ROrd's Tay-ber! Meeeee break yowe ahm! Hiiiyyyyy yah!"

    -----Added 1/8/2009 at 04:38:06 EST-----

    If the church didn't have a formal membership roll, it seems that an impossible burden is put on the communicant. This seems to contradict a plain legal maxim:


  19. fredtgreco

    fredtgreco Vanilla Westminsterian Staff Member


    While plausible, your interpretation of the BCO is not what the Church has taken it to be. I don't have my SJC decisions book with me right now, but my clear recollection is that there have been cases on this exact issue which have permitted Sessions to admit a person to the Table. (1) and (2) are not mutually exclusive.

    It should be used judiciously, and rarely, but there are occasions where it may be permissible for a time to allow someone who is unable to join to partake.

    -----Added 1/8/2009 at 05:29:16 EST-----

    I agree with Tom. The physical membership roll is not what is required - it is submission to the authority of, and commitment to, the local church. This happens all the time now. In fact, I would venture to guess that a very small minority of the visible Church now actually even keeps (and updates) rolls.
  20. he beholds

    he beholds Puritan Board Doctor

    I think it is the responsibility of the individual to know whether they are a member of a church. I've never seen anyone questioned at my church. We are told that it is for members of an evangelical church immediately preceding the administration of the Lord's Supper. So at my church, it is simply based on the conscience of the individual, I guess.
  21. Zeno333

    Zeno333 Puritan Board Freshman

    I have heard at some churches, the minister giving a warning to the congregation, that if anyone has any "outstanding issues", or "does not feel right with the Lord" at that time for any reason, to not take the elements, and they then say that it could make one physically ill if one does so....
    the First Presbyterian Church in Pittsburgh when I was a teenager gave this warning, and they used a Scripture reference regarding the claim, I forget what the Scripture reference is now though.
  22. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    In my church, if one is not already a member, he or she must be interviewed by the elders before being admitted to communion.

    Zeno: The reference was probably 1 Corinthians 11:29-30:

    "For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.

    For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep. " (KJV)
  23. Zeno333

    Zeno333 Puritan Board Freshman

    Yep, that's the verse :) :)
  24. Rich Koster

    Rich Koster Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I believe we need to protect someone who needs correction/instruction from harming themselves at The Lord's Table. The Table itself is not in need of protection from one who partakes in an unworthy manner.
  25. Johnnyrat

    Johnnyrat Puritan Board Freshman

    "...the uninstructed, the profane, the scandalous, and those who secretly and impenitently live in any sin, not to approach the holy table lest they partake unworthily,..., and so eat and drink condemnation to themselves."

    This list very well could include church members. Membership rolls are just paper with writing on them. If you are humble and contrite, you may partake.

    The above quote was taken from TBOCO of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church. It is from the section: The Directory for the Public Worship of God.
  26. Rocketeer

    Rocketeer Puritan Board Freshman

    Pergamum, The Netherlands is a very densely populated country; average congregational size for our denomination is over 600, and our church has 1600 members (baptized and confessing). With such large churches, it is impossible for the Elders to see who comes in the church on the day itself. This particular woman was not a member of any church and had not told anyone she planned to take part in the Lord's Supper; she just came, rose from her seat and sat, disregarding the protestations and warnings of the elders and pertinently refusing to rise; what would you have done? Manhandled her?


    and yes, the pastor did warn against partaking unworthily; he had an entire sermon on the matter the Sunday before, as is the custom here, and he warned on the day itself, and the form contains a set of warnings as well; she could have known, if she wanted.
  27. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    The Scripture says "let a man examine himself..." A verbal fencing is our responsibility.

    If a stranger continues to try to partake, it may be that they are a believer in good standing with another church and see the evil of transgressing your churches rules as greater than the evil in missing a legitimiate chance to partake what is rightly hers.

    In the case of a stranger trying to partake, I am not sure physical restraint is called for.
  28. Rocketeer

    Rocketeer Puritan Board Freshman

    No. As I stated before, the woman was clearly deranged, mentally weak, call it what you want. The pastor, who told us personally, did not think she could be held responsible for her actions.

    I do not think so either; I am just pointing out that the elders and the pastor had no good options, really; she did not make her intentions known, was not a church member, did not obey the elders or the pastor, sat without permission and against explicit warnings, and forcefully took part of the blood of Christ. If that is a good Christian attitude, I do not know what is not.
  29. Contra_Mundum

    Contra_Mundum Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger Staff Member

    If barring from the Table (suspension or excommunication) is an act of discipline, so is admission.

    If God will judge the former (and the parties involved), as a Supreme Court--and he will (Mt.18:18)--then he will also judge the latter.

    Given this fact--that God promises to review our judgments, or lack thereof--why should anyone object to the concern the overseers (Heb.13:17) have to mind their duties?

    Just because a man says: "I've examined myself," doesn't mean that the elders can now consider their responsibility vacated by this (personal) judgment.

    The idea that the church just lays a Table--and that individual Christians just come by and take a serving at their pleasure, even with a warning statement appended--is quite strange to my way of thinking about preparing that Table.

    I understand that Table is an "invitation-only" meal, not a promiscuous board. And before I admit PersonX to this repast, I want to know at a minimum if there even exists a church body who would recognize PersonX to the degree that they could or would either admit or exclude them for cause.

    This is the SAME standard we are applying to our own membership. So, I don't see any issues with equal enforcement. There's no "discrimination" going on here, unless I ask some stranger for LESS accountability--in which case it is discrimination AGAINST our own membership. :scratch:
  30. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    What do we do if someone physically tries to grab the elements then if they are a stranger and we do not know their spriitual state and they assert that they belong to a solid church and want to take whatis rightfully theirs (and there was no time to interview them before, therefore, the elders are trying to pass them by)?

    Give then a Judo roll to go with their communion cracker?
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