Beginning Sunday, September 8th, our Sunday School time for children in grades 1-6 will be devoted to a Communicants Class. In the Presbyterian Church, children of members are considered non-communicant members until they make a profession of faith before the elders of the church. Upon approval by the Session, they become communicant members who may partake of the Lord’s Supper.
It is a joy to see covenant children come to the place in their lives where they can make a profession of personal faith in Christ and be admitted to the Lord’s Table. This is an important event in the life of each child for which he or she should be prepared. Our denomination’s Book of Church Order addresses this in a way that can provide helpful guidance for parents and elders to work together in the nurture of covenant children. Here are some excerpts:
When [believers’ children within the Visible Church] are able to understand the Gospel, they should be earnestly reminded that they are members of the Church by birthright, and that it is their duty and privilege personally to accept Christ, to confess Him before men, and to seek admission to the Lord’s Supper. (57-1)
The time when young persons come to understand the Gospel cannot be precisely fixed. This must be left to the prudence of the Session, whose office it is to judge, after careful examination, the qualifications of those who apply for admission to sealing ordinances. (57-2)
The Westminster Shorter Catechism speaks to the prerequisites for taking communion:
Q. 97 What is required to the worthy receiving of the Lord’s supper?
A. It is required of them that would worthily partake of the Lord’s supper, that they examine themselves of their knowledge to discern the Lord’s body, of their faith to feed upon him, of their repentance, love, and new obedience; lest, coming unworthily, they eat and drink judgment to themselves.
Another element in becoming a communicant member is the taking of membership vows. A child must be able to profess these vows with understanding and a commitment to keep them.
When we put all this together, we begin to get a picture of what is expected of children as they make a profession of faith. They must have an understanding of the gospel as well as a credible testimony to embracing the gospel through personal faith in Jesus Christ. They should demonstrate an ability to examine their own lives in order to recognize and repent of sin. They should also be able to understand and meaningfully affirm the vows of church membership. While it is understood that a child will not be able to articulate all these things in the same way as an adult, he or she should nevertheless be able to do so credibly in an age-appropriate way. The elders suggest parents are in the best position to determine when they believe their child is ready to take this step.
Our Communicants Class will be taught by Pastor Steven and his wife, Allegra, and will review the gospel and the basic teachings of the Christian faith using the Bible and the First Catechism. Each week, review sheets will be sent home so parents can help their children become grounded in these important truths. Our hope is that this will help children who have faith in Christ to be able to understand and articulate that faith.
Any child who wishes to become a communicant member must be examined by the Session. Completion of this class does not obligate a child to pursue communicant membership at that time nor does it guarantee a child will be approved by the Session. Nevertheless, the class will hopefully be one more means of covenant nurture for the children that participate as they prepare one day to make personal professions of faith and become communicant members of the church. May God bless all avenues of covenant nurture in our families and church so that our children grow up to be faithful men and women of God.
Parents with questions about the Communicants Class or communicant membership are encouraged to speak with Pastor Steven.