Anyone who has been to church has taken communion at some point. It is a monthly if not weekly tradition at most churches. Let me first say that I love the symbolism of it and I respect/enjoy taking part in it. Below are what I consider the five worst things in the communion tradition. If you have ever taken communion you will recognize most if not all of these situations. So sit back grab your hummingbird’s beak worth of grape juice and enjoy.
5. Two Hands?
I noticed this a few years ago at church when I was taking part in communion. I had my bread and juice in my left hand and I had my right hand holding my left arm up. I thought “Why am I using two hands to hold my communion?” I looked around and noticed 80% of the people were also doing it. I can’t figure out why we use two hands? There is nothing lighter in the world than communion. I haven’t tried this, but I think if you let go of your bread it actually floats away. Not to mention the .004 ounces of juice in the plastic thimble. It’s strange because it’s not like we hold a banana with two hands while we eat it and a banana probably weighs 10 times as much as the communion elements. Next time you are at church I want you to look at your hands then look around, your mind will be blown!
4. The Cup
Okay, after you finished holding your elements with two hands and have eaten the bread and the juice you are stuck with the cup. Has there ever been something so small yet caused such a pain? If you’re not familiar with the communion cup it’s about the size of a thimble or 3 small water bottle lids stacked on one another. I never have any idea what do with the cup. I try sticking it in my pocket, but it is impossible to get all the juice out so it ends up leaking.
Side note: There is literally about a hummingbird’s beak worth of grape juice in each cup, but it is impossible to completely empty the cup. Can we not design a better cup that flows smoother? I am looking at you big communion, you need to fix this!
I will talk myself into just holding it, but after about 35 seconds I start playing the cup and end up making a loud cracking sound when I squeeze it too tight. The best option I have found so far is setting it at your feet, but the success rate is about 6% when it comes to remembering to grab it after the service and not to mention the fact that you will kick it at some point.
My solution… I want the cup to be made out of the bread so you can just eat the cup, then you won’t have to worry about it. If you’re reading this saying “how is that possible” let me just say that we have landed on the moon. This is definitely possible.
3. Grabbing The Cup First
This one is comical. When the tray is being passed around there is an order of operations that must be done. If you do not know what the tray looks like, imagine the rims you would see on a black pastors Impala. I actually think they had these little cups, but had no way to hold them. Then one Sunday somebody had an idea and they put the pastors car on blocks, took his rims, and away they went.
Okay back to the order of operations for communion. This is the PEMDAS version of communion.
1. Grab the tray with your weak hand. I know you’re scared to grab it with the fear of dropping it lurking, but this is isn’t actually Jesus’ body, it just symbolizes it.
2. Grab the bread with your dominant hand.
3. Grab the juice with the hand that is holding the bread.
4. Pass the tray along.
It’s a simple process but people always swap steps 2 and 3. There is nothing funnier than when somebody grabs the juice first because it is IMPOSSIBLE to then grab the bread. They will look at their hand in confusion and think “how in the world can I grab the bread now without dumping my juice?” They have the same look you have when you are trying to nail up a board but left the hammer on the ladder. You look up at the board and line the nail up, only to realize you don’t have a hammer. It takes about a three Mississippi in order for your brain process what exactly happened and respond. The same thing happens with communion. Follow my four simple steps and communion away.
2. The Cup Lick
This is right after the part where the pastor says “This cup symbolizes Jesus blood that was shed for us, let us drink together.” We all then drink, but like previously mentioned the cup does not drain properly. There are a couple drops at the bottom that I don’t know what to do with. What ends up happening is I take a quick look to my left, then my right, if nobody is looking I stick my tongue in the cup and lick out the rest. I look like a frog trying to catch a fly because it happens so quick. I don’t know what else to do? I can’t waste it, after all there are kids in Africa without thimble sized cups of grape juice. I thought this was a move I would out grow with age, but I am well into my twenties and I still do it often.
This is by far my biggest beef with communion. Can we not get some bread that actually tastes good? How hard can that be. The bread just symbolizes Christ’s body, it shouldn’t actually taste like it. I overheard last week a kid saying “Mom, Jesus doesn’t taste very good.” The main kind of bread churches use looks like somebody shrunk a white Cheez-It by about 80% but with none of the taste.
Actually, that gave me a great idea, why can’t we just use a normal cheddar Cheez-It? Who would complain about that? Even if you argue that it’s not actually bread, I will counter with the point that there is no way what we are using now is bread either. I have read the bible thoroughly, nowhere does it condemn the use of Cheez-It’s.…
The second kind of bread comes in a combo pack with the juice. Meaning, you get a cup with the “bread” sealed on top. In order to use it you must peel the “bread” and take it out, then peel the second layer to get to the juice. Nothing better than when the pastor is on stage doing communion and has to peel it and can’t get it open. If you are pastor and leading communion on Sunday, make sure you don’t bite your nails all week, you will need them.
Back to the “bread”. The reason I keep using quotation marks is there is no way that it’s bread. I spent a couple of years working in a shipping department where we used packing peanuts. Let me tell you, this “bread” is just a white, Frisbee shaped, packing peanut. If you get a drop of water on the “bread”, it literally just withers away and dies. I don’t know if I should be mad at the church for ordering this stuff or at big communion for cooking, well actually, more accurately, manufacturing this bread. I am going to put it in both their courts to figure something out, and if they can’t, a Cheez-It will suffice.
Self Help Bible
From 7th-12th grade I went to youth group every Wednesday night. I was at the very first gathering they ever had where there was less than 40 people. I was also there when it had over 300. On paper it was the greatest youth group in the county (Not country). People thought God must be doing amazing things for it to grow that large.
I hated that youth group. I used to dread having to go and the only reason I would go is because my friends would be there. I never really was sure why I hated it until last week when I had a breakthrough.
Recently I started leading a small group to help try and improve it. It has gone from 300 people down to 100 which is a good thing. It needs a solid foundation before it gets too big. The last couple weeks we have talked about great topics such as how to treat women, worship, and idols. The topics have been fantastic. How we have talked about them has been horrible.
What we have done is strip away the power of the Bible and turn it into a self-help book. We treat it like it was written by Steve Harvey and has some good ideas for life and women. We treat it like it should be located in the advice section at Barnes and Noble. We discussed looking at women in their eyes, not staring at their boobs/butt, and treating them respect. All of which are good things. However, there are 100’s of books that say the same thing.
The Bible is not a self-help book. It is a Book that is road map for life as we keep are eyes on the Creator. We went through a 60 minute group without reading a single Bible verse. Not one! Somebody paraphrased a few verses in their own words to make a point. That’s it.
In Matthew 9:12-13 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick…For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
When Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick,” He was not implying that the religious crowd were acceptable before God and didn’t need the forgiveness of sins He came to provide. Rather, He was getting at the point that there’s one thing worse than being sick, namely, being sick and thinking you’re well! Then you won’t go to the doctor for the cure. At least the crooks knew they were spiritually terminal. By confessing their sinfulness and by accepting God’s cure (His undeserved mercy through Jesus), they were made well. But those who thought they were spiritually well were terminal without knowing it.
We spend all group having what could be a biblical discussion of topics but instead we take the Bible out of it. The difference between the Bible and other books is simple. It’s Jesus. When we strip away Bible verses, which were left for us as a way to read the Word of God, we take away the power of what we are saying. People should look at me funny when I say things because I am somebody who sins frequently and makes 25k a year. What do I know? They should want to hear God’s word and how it affects me.
I don’t have the power to change anyone’s life. I am an electric hedge trimmer. I can trim hedges all day only if I am plugged in to the outlet. The second I am unplugged is when I become basically useless. People’s lives can be changed through me, but not by me. I am just a tool. The true power of transformation comes from God.
I don’t need the Bible to tell me how to treat women. I don’t. I can find that info elsewhere. What I do need is the Bible to point me to the power of God and that He sent His Son to die for my sins. I need it to truly have life change and for the power it holds. I need it to grow closer to my Creator.
I beg churches and people to start treating the Bible as a Holy Book again. Stop taking only the principles out of it and applying them to the world. Stop paraphrasing stories as if your friend told you them. Stop trying to strip the power away from the Bible. I don’t care what you have to say on a topic. I care what Jesus had to say on it.
I’m sure Steve Harvey writes a really good book that we can take tidbits from. However, we have something much greater. We have the road map to eternal life. We have the Bible. We have God’s Word.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
I had the idea to write about Convenient Jesus two weeks ago during the NFL season kickoff. I wrote it down but didn’t do much with it. 2Two weeks later after skipping church twice the message hits close to home for me so I figured it was time.
The church I go to averages around 300-400 people on a given Sunday. I am located in Washington State home of the 12th man. The first week of the season the Seahawks were playing a 10:00 AM game. 10:00 AM games are always rough for church. Combine that with the fact it was week 1 and that made it even rougher. Church was down 150 people from the previous week. 150, and it’s not like the previous week was Easter either. The previous week was Labor Day with people out of town for the three day weekend.
Whether we like it or not this is what are actions are saying.
I love going to church except for when the Seahawks are playing. I love Jesus so much except for when my friends want to go out drinking. I hate sin except if it is a sin I do all the time. I pray every night except for when I am tired. I would read my bible more except that I am super busy. I would give to the poor except I don’t make enough money. I would pay attention in church except I need to update my fantasy roster. I would be on fire for the Lord except…
We have turned Jesus into someone we go to and spend time with only when nothing else is going on. How many times have you read about Moses and laughed when they made a gold cow to worship instead of God? It is quite humorous to me. That is until I skip church to watch grown men play a game and spend more time on my fantasy team than I do in the bible. Then it’s not so funny. It’s actually depressing.
The reason we do all the above things is simple…
We don’t need Jesus.
Or at least we act like we don’t.
You hear stories in India where pastors are digging their own graves before they go out and preach knowing they could get killed in doing so. You also hear in India about a place where God is doing great things. How can we count it all joy when we endure trials if we never go through trials? We all have housing, clothing, food, and water. We have more right now than at any time in the history of the world. We have it all. Except for a REAL relationship with Jesus. The places where the Holy Spirit is doing the greatest work are also places where the Devil is trying to do is greatest work.
One of my favorites quotes is “I hope to live a life worthy of the devil noticing me and have him send a demon to try and stop me.”
I do have good news though. Being a Christian in America is getting tougher. Try being against homosexuality right, you will get some push back. Try saying you are waiting for marriage to have sex. Try not swearing regularly when everyone around you is. All of that is considered crazy. All of that is good news. It is joy.
When you lean into the Lord and you fight addiction, you fight sin, you fight unrighteous. Those are the times when you feel Him the most. Look at Job who was the most righteous man on earth. Read all he went through. Being a Christian is not supposed to be easy because when life is easy you start to feel like you don’t need Jesus.
Know what you believe in and take a stand. Go through struggles for being a Christian because that is when you will feel joy. Have so much hope and faith in the Lord that you choose him over everything else on a daily basis.
Deny yourself in order to find your true self.
I have been trying to limit my social media time over the past couple weeks especially when it comes to FB. Thankfully last night I went on FB to catch up on some stuff. I was scrolling through when I saw a post and got inspired to write about it.
Before I begin let me add this. I started serving at a youth group just a short time ago. This post was written by one of the other small group leaders that helps there and made me angry. Not at the person who wrote this but at the culture of the youth group and the church.
ATTENTION NEWLIFE BREMERTON YOUTH: ONE LAST TIME! It’s time for our final B-town youth at Lions field tomorrow! Let’s make it big and make it reign! We’re going to play a lot of games! School has started and so shall Bremerton.youth! Bring your all your friends, because we have plenty of room for them all! Bremerton.youth is about to blow up large, so get your friends there at the ground floor! Something is coming…
A lot of you may find nothing wrong with that. For a long period of my life it wouldn’t have bothered me one bit. But it does now. Oh it bothers me so much.
I am going to look at a few sentences that were written and break them down.
Let’s make it big and make it reign!
The first time I went to youth group all they were talking about is how to grow it. Let’s make it big. People have decided that the way you define the success of a church event is attendance. That is such a false way to look at. I went to a youth group of over 400 kids growing up. My “small” group had 60 kids and 10 leaders in it. Every single one of my friends that were in the small group I was in is no longer a Christian. I had small group leaders get their girlfriends pregnant, get divorced, call off weddings, and leave the church all together.
From an outside view this youth group was successful. Look at all the people!!! It wasn’t though. We got so caught up in body count that we completely forgot about rooting people in Christ. I will say this until I die and that is I would rather have a youth group of 1 person that loved Jesus with all their heart, than a youth group of 400 where everyone put on a front and acted like they did.
We’re going to play a lot of games.
I have something that is truly incredible. I have something that comforts, forgives, loves, and cherishes me. I have the King of kings and the Lord of lords. I have someone who created me in his image. Who says I am worthy even when I don’t feel like it. Who forgives no matter what I have done. Who truly wants the best for me. Who has promised me eternal life. Who loves me even when I sin against him.
Let’s not mention that though. Let’s mention that we are going to play games instead. We all know ultimate Frisbee is far important than reading the bible. HOW INSANE IS THE FACT THAT ARE PITCH TO COME TO YOUTH GROUP DOESN’T MENTION JESUS, GOD, OR THE BIBLE?!?! Nope let’s leave all that out. Instead let’s mention games.
If we are truly going to be Christians then shouldn’t His love pour out from us? Shouldn’t we be in such a good relationship with him that are pitch isn’t about games? It’s about savior who created them and loves them. Shouldn’t we want to create an environment where youth group is more about God than it is fun? Shouldn’t we? Or maybe I’m just crazy.
Bremerton.youth is about to blow up large, so get your friends there at the ground floor!
Are we talking about a startup company here? Is this Netflix in 1997? You need to get in now! This company is going to take off and when the company grows you will have you high ranking position because you were there from the beginning! Or are we talking about youth group? Like I said before shouldn’t are pitch be about Jesus? What does getting your friends in at the ground floor have to do with anything? I don’t remember Jesus preaching “Follow me so you can get in on the ground floor of this.” No he said “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.”
The ground floor means nothing. I hope for the sake of this youth group at this time that it never leaves the ground floor. I can already feel the “look at how we big we are “coming. I can already see the workings of a place that only cares about body count. You tell me you care about the students but your actions show me otherwise.
We don’t have a sturdy ground floor and we are already trying to build on it. It may work for a few stories but the more you add to it, the harder it will fall. Let’s make a sturdy ground floor. Let’s disciple the students and get them ready to disciple others. When we add a story let’s build it on a firm foundation in Christ that disciples people and turns out true God fearing Christians. Please invite your friends please do, but invite them because you care about them. Not because you want them to get in on the ground floor of a building that is built on sand.
I am going to be honest it made question whether or not I ever wanted to go back. It made me question whether I wanted to get involved in something like this. It made me question a lot. It answered this for me though. This is exactly the place I need to be. Instead of complaining about it from the outside I need to help fix it from the inside. I know the great things the Lord can do when you are rooted in him. I have felt them, I have seen them, I have about read them. I also know how badly things can turn out when you are not. I have watched my friends turn from the Lord because in part of a bad youth group. I can see this one starting down the same wide path and I don’t like it.
I don’t like the wide path were on. I like the narrow path a lot more.