Children and Communion

Welcome to our table

“Does one need to qualify to participate at a meal of grace?  Fortunately in our denomination previously churches that included children in communion had to explain their reason for doing so, now it is the reverse.”

Read our blogs on this topic Welcome to our table and Practicing the Eucharist.

Most of our Kids Friendly churches do invite children to the table and carefully plan how they will educate children about this sacrament and how their communion liturgy engages children. One church shared:  “Last Sunday I decided to ask children to help me prepare the table and assist elders in serving communion.  This was a first for our church and it was the most powerful communion service I’ve ever experienced.”

Kids Friendly encourages churches to prayerfully consider how children are welcomed and included in the sacrament of holy communion.

The PCANZ  Directory for Worship (1995) states: Baptised children are invited to receive the Lord’s Supper, recognising that their understanding of participation will vary according to their maturity. Sessions/Parish Councils should enable children to be nurtured and instructed in the significance of the invitation to the Table and the meaning of their response.

Recommended Reading:

A precious feast: A tangled web

Children are welcome at our table: Stories and philosophies

For Parents: Making communion meaningful for children

Children and communion: Stories from churches

Welcoming children to the Lord’s Supper

In or out? – children and communion  by Kaila Pettigrove, Somervell Presbyterian Church, Auckland

My first unders389036_10201023883259195_1754580317_ntanding of communion was that it was something that I was not allowed to do.  It was a mysterious connection with God that I was not (yet) worthy of having.  Because my father had no church connection, I attended a Catholic church with my stepmother.  Her children had been through the classes, so they followed the line of people up to the priest to receive the “Host”.  My siblings and I remained obediently in our seats and waited patiently for that part of the service to be over.  I don’t remember feeling bad, it’s just how it was.  Communion was for the insiders and I was still a church outsider. Read more…..
Some resources for helping children understand and participate in communion:
Teaching children about communion PowerPoint quiz 

I developed this for the Godzone kids at St Heliers Presbyterian Church some years back and many of our Kids Friendly churches have adapted it for their use too.  It is available as a PowerPoint and as a leaflet for those who don’t have digital projection.  We left church for our time in Godzone and explored the meaning of communion playing a “hangman” game using these images.  I was amazed how little the children knew, but then really touched by the way the children responded when we took them back into the church to receive communion.  They took it very seriously and some even told their parents ‘only to chat to Jesus while they were waiting!’ ” Jill Kayser

A Communion Checklist

We created this checklist to give to our children at communion services. They are invited to sit with an adult who will help explain things to them. the checklist helps them follow the service. ” Mo Morgan, St James’ Whanganui

My special book about Holy Communion

We’ve created this booklet so that children can follow the service and gain a deeper understanding of what’s going on.  It also invites children to participate.”  Jill Kayser

Communion Liturgies and Services from our Churches
Teaching children about communion – an all age worship service from St Ninian’s Uniting Parish, Wellington

The team at St Ninian’s sent us a wonderful story about one Sunday when they taught children about the history and meaning of communion.  I was so inspired that I asked minister Monika Redman if she would send me her order of service and other resources used.  I hope this will inspire and encourage you to try something new in your context.

St Ninian’s story

St Ninian’s plan and order of service

Preparing children and families for an all age Communion service

Rev Andrew and Christine Harrex share how they talked with their children about communion prior to their receiving communion for the first time.

In the past Lawrence Waitahuna Presbyuterian church has not invited children to participate in communion.  As our church strives to be Kids Friendly our leadership recently discussed this and following prayerful consideration made a decision to welcome children (with their parent’s permission) at our communion table.   We decided to prepare a “take home” resource for parents to prepare their children for their first communion.

The communion service was during the school holidays so we didn’t have as many families there as we had hoped for. One family who used it, said that while they appreciated it, they decided that their children weren’t ready for communion.

We found it worked really well in our family with four children ages 5-10 years. We felt that after our discussions our children had a really good understanding of what communion was all about. We were happy for them to take communion. This was really special and meaningful for our kids and helped them move on in their faith journey.”

Download their Family Preparation for All Age Communion resource here

An All Age Communion Liturgy

The Jewish Passover was a time when the children of Abraham remembered the events of the exodus. The celebration always included a series of questions traditionally asked by the youngest child. There were four questions which were all derivatives of one question: why is this night different from all other nights?  This “all age” communion liturgy includes four questions that all of us ask together.”  Rev Cate Burton of St Peters Presbyterian Church, Tauranga

A Responsive All Age Communion Liturgy – Our Community’s  Story                   

This is a responsive Communion liturgy where all are invited to join in the telling of the story that needs to be told…but by whom? By the community – you and I.  It includes question and responses.” Rev Brendan McCrae of Flagstaff Presbyterian Church, Dunedin

An All Age Communion Service

 We created a communion check-list to give to children on a clipboard with a pencil .  We invited them to sit next to an adult who can help them follow the liturgy.  They were asked to Listen carefully so they could recognise the words of the last supper from The Children’s Story Book Bible and tick off the parts of our communion  service that they recognise.” Mo Morgan, St James’ Whanganui

A responsive liturgy for all age communion with questions

 This is a responsive Communion liturgy where children (and others – we’re ALL children of God regardless of age!) are invited to ask questions about what we are doing.  It is inspired by the Jewish tradition of the Passover dinner where the youngest Jewish child asks four questions. A tradition that responds to God’s commandment to His people to share their faith with their children: “Thou shalt tell thy son”; and the importance Jewish people place on involving children in their faith practices. Rev Leeanne Munro, Wadestown Presbyterian Church

St Oran’s Presbyterian School’s Communion Service

Shared by Rev Sharon Ross Ensor of the Presbyterian Church Schools Resource Office

Read more about including children in communion in our Kids Friendly Worship resource