Is it acceptable to have communion outside of the church?Question: "Is it acceptable to have communion outside of the church? Can communion be observed with family at home, at a gathering of Christian friends, in private, etc.?"
Answer: Communion services, also known as the Lord’s Supper, are usually held in churches during the worship services. For the early church, however, worship services were in homes. The church in Jerusalem met in the home of Mary (Acts 12:12), in Philippi in the home of Lydia (Acts 16:40), and in Ephesus in the home of Aquila and Priscilla (1 Corinthians 16:19). In Colossae the church met in the home of Philemon (Philemon 2). As we learn from Acts 2, the early church met regularly for the apostles’ teaching, prayer, fellowship and “the breaking of bread,” commonly understood to be communion (Acts 2:42).
However, Scripture does not designate where the communion service must be held. It has been served in hospitals and nursing homes for ill patients. Missionaries on the field have served communion to believers where no churches have yet been established. Some families perform their own communion service on special occasions such as Christmas Eve. Our Lord, in commemorating the Passover with the disciples in the upper room, instituted the first communion service. The only instructions we have regarding the process of the rite come from Jesus’ own words to “do this in remembrance of me” until He comes (1 Corinthians 11:24-26). This passage gives all the instructions we need to perform the rite of communion and to understand the significance of what we are doing.
It was after Pentecost when the church was established that communion was regularly served in church settings and considered to be an ordinance of the church. As such, the recognized church leadership administered the service. But there is no biblical reason why the Lord’s Supper cannot be administered in homes among friends and family, in a home church setting, or anywhere else. The important thing is not location, but the remembrance of the body and blood of Christ, whereby we are saved.
Recommended Resource: Understanding Four Views on the Lord's Supper edited by John H. Armstrong
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Questions about the Church
Is it acceptable to have communion outside of the church?