Encouraging, Living, Reaching

Tips for Helping Participation at the Lord’s Supper

Tips for Helping Participation at the Lord’s Supper

What can be done to encourage more men to stand up and share their thoughts at the Breaking of Bread? How can we help the quiet ones participate audibly in the communal worship at the Lord’s Supper?

Someone is always on his feet first

The story of the lame man in John chapter 5 may help us to sympathize. Gathered at Bethesda, many blind, lame and paralyzed men sat waiting for the moving of the water, for in former times an angel had appeared and stirred up the water, and apparently, the first one into the water was healed.

For the paralyzed man of John chapter 5 the problem was always the same: someone else made it into the pool first. I fear often times the same situation happens at the Breaking of Bread. While a shy brother may be busy gathering his thoughts, another brother jumps to his feet and beats him to it. What can be done to help the silent brother?

Embrace the Silences

Those who share their thoughts or prayers at the breaking of bread are leading us in the worship and remembrance of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why, after a brother prays, or shares his thoughts from the Word, it is helpful to allow a short period of silence to fall. This facilitates worship.

This intentional silence does two helpful things: first, it allows us to ponder, process or relish the beautiful thought or prayer just shared; and second, it allows a little more time for the timid brother to rise to his feet. Over the years I have come to enjoy the silences of worship just as much as the things said at the Lord’s Supper.

Led By the Spirit

We have all experienced the situation where two brothers get up at the same time to speak at the Breaking of Bread. Which one is being led by the Spirit and which one isn’t? Maybe we have been looking at this situation the wrong way. Perhaps being led by the Spirit means the manner in which we do things not necessarily the order in which we do them.

In this way, both brothers have been led by the Spirit. It doesn’t matter if they both rose to their feet at the same time. Remember that worship is inspired not programmed. Praise is freely offered not divinely ordained. It is not as if some hypnotic trance overtakes us, making us say things as mindless robots. It’s okay that two brothers got up at the same time. Courtesy should guide the way.

Wait on One Another

The Corinthians had a problem. Some were drunk at the Lord’s Supper; others were neglecting the poor. As well as remembering the Lord through the bread and wine, the early church shared meals together which later became known as love-feasts.

The Corinthians’ problem was that some people were taking their meals before others, or were eating so much food that others had none. Paul rebukes them for their discourteous, selfish manner, saying, “Each one takes his own supper ahead of others…” (1 Cor.11:21).

Silence is golden

I fear what happened at the literal supper of the Corinthians sometimes takes place at our meetings. Each one jumps to his feet, quick to share a thought, taking no thought of the timid brother who may need more time to muster up his courage to organize his thoughts. Instead let those who are eager or comfortable with public speaking should allow a few minutes of silence. Two or three minutes should suffice. Silence, as they say, is golden.

In conclusion, let us take Paul’s instruction to the Corinthians and apply it ourselves: “Therefore, my brethren, when you come together…wait for one another” (1 Cor.11:33). A little silence can go a long way. As one preacher once said concerning the Breaking of Bread service, let “each one come prepared [to speak] but not determined.” In this way, we provide an opportunity for the silent brother to speak.

Shane Johnson

Shane Johnson has been commended from Bethel-Park Bible Chapel since 1999.  He resides in Brantford, Ontario with his wife Shelly and his five children.  He has his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in History.  His passions are teaching children, inspiring young people, writing, music and playing soccer.

6 Responses to Tips for Helping Participation at the Lord’s Supper

  1. Janice Nicholson
    Janice Nicholson

    I might add that silence allows the ladies to worship uninterrupted too. I have always loved the silence because it is my chance to contribute. Thanks so much for bringing this up.

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    Rob Bednarik

    Make it all about the Lord! If the Lord’s Supper detracts from the primary purpose – “In Remembrance of Me” naturally participation becomes disjointed and fractured. He is worthy of the time spent on Him alone. The Spirit will rejoice at our desire to “see Him” by faith and the meeting will harmonize. If nothing else, it’s worth trying by those who offer a more mixed approach – an experiment that may catch on? I appeal to you shepherds.

    PS: in our assembly of 45-50 every week nearly every brother is involved in the Lord’s Supper.

    • Avatar
      Calvin Fritchey

      I have always wanted to teach in a practical way what worship is and how to worship. I have taught a few but shortly thereafter the Lord took them to another place of worship so I honestly do not know if they actually participate now. Having been a very shy person I know the fear, timidity, and frustration of wanting to share but not doing it. The first time I remember sharing is when the Assembly I was attending had drastically dwindled. One morning at the Lord’s supper I was the only male there with 4 other women. The Lord gave the strength to do everything, share a word, pray, give a song, give thanks for the emblems, etc. It was a start… Later, When I had boldness to pray, I still prayed 90 miles an hour. One time I gave out a passage to read and gave out the reference a couple times to give folks time to get there, and after reading the passage and sitting down, I realized I gave the wrong chapter and verse! God was gracious to me and in spite of it all He somehow gave me the love for Him to keep at it. I do not recall anyone encouraging or helping me to learn how to do it. However, I do not want or think that is right to do that to other brothers, especially the younger. I would encourage some simple things. Most thot’s I have are actually from studying during the week and I would write the thot’s about the Lord Jesus down so I wouldn’t forget them. I stayed away from “personal” testimony thot’s, though occassionally they may be appropriate if it draws attention to the Lord and not us. That didn’t mean I shared at every Lord’s supper or even shared the prepared thot’s. I try to stay away from taking too much time. Nothing is worse than a person taking 20 minutes to preach, then gives a song and then prays for 10 minutes. No one else has a chance. Short simple thots that are to the point and short portions of scripture allow MANY brothers to share. One of my biggest fears was a second of silence between my thot’s or prayers. One second seemed like 10. Somehow we think we have to read a portion and “expound on it”. Sometimes
      just reading it without any comment speaks far more. Giving a song is a good way to start and reading one line of it to give folks a chance to turn to it helps. And ladies… perhaps you may be a help to men getting up or not. You need to be ready to share (though silently) too. Nothing shakes you in your boots and encourages you more at the same time than when a dear lady comes up to you and says brother… thank you for sharing those thots, or that song, or that prayer as those were the very thot’s on my heart.

      Lastly, don’t make the mistake I did one time when a very young brother gave out a prayer hymn I thot only fitting for Wed night prayer meetings and I stood up and said maybe we could sing a more appropriate song. It took a long time for me to forgive myself over that one. Thankfully that young man is still moving on GREATLY for the Lord in spite of my mistake. In the OT the Lord’s people were “taught” to love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, and mind. Perhaps we need to teach others “how” to worship also! They that worship God must worship Him in Spirit and “truth”. 2Ti 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.” Maybe sharing how we were taught to worship (whether by God directly or thru other saints) would go a long way to seeing other men grow to the point of expressing worship out loud to Jesus Christ our Lord!

  3. Avatar

    Thanks brother!
    “Embrace the silences”. I like that!

  4. Avatar
    Mark Jensen

    Thank you for writing this Shane. This is a worthwhile topic for assemblies to revisit on a regular basis. The silences, in this case, are golden. It is a time for the women to participate and for the younger men to build up the courage to share. Another point I would add to getting brothers to speak is that we encourage them to be in the Word throughout the week studying to be ready to have something to share. Glean during the week days so you have something from your harvest to give during the Remembrance meeting.

  5. Avatar

    I have always tried to make my Saturday night short, no Family or Friends getting together, no it’s a time to reflect the week and prepare for Sunday Worship Meeting.
    Just recently a Brother brought a message on the proper things to share. This statement stands out; “This is a memorial service, so bring thoughts that point to Him”

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