The question often comes up: “When is my child old enough to take Communion?” It’s a good question with no clear Biblical answer, so let me try to help you with this decision.
In the New Testament, we only see adults taking the Lord’s Supper in the Upper Room, but perhaps children were among those in the Church receiving Communion in 1 Corinthians 11. On the basis of the fact that Judas left the Upper Room to betray Jesus before the breaking of the bread and passing of the cup (at least in Matthew and Mark), many churches have “closed” Communion to only those who are believers or only those who are members of the Church, or even just members “in good standing.”
On the other hand, the New Testament practice is based on the Old Testament Passover which definitely included children and was even designed to be a teaching tool for them! On that basis, it is hard to “close” Communion from children in total or even from unbelievers! That is the reason we don’t make a definitive statement from the front when we receive the Lord’s Table who should and who shouldn’t partake. We leave that to the individual or the parent.
However, we do need to be careful. 1 Corinthians 11:27 warns, “Whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.” Now, none of us are “worthy” apart from Christ, but the point is coming in “an unworthy manner.”
Traditionally, the way the appropriate age to begin taking the Lord’s Supper has been determined has been by the child having followed the Lord in believer’s baptism first. Perhaps this comes from “confirmation” in the Catholic and other Protestant Churches. This is only a tradition, but in my opinion, it is a good guide. Has your child made a profession of faith in Christ? Have they prayed with you to ask Jesus to forgive their sins? Do they understand the gospel? Then I would encourage you to encourage them to follow the Lord in believer’s baptism. I myself did so at the age of eight, and began receiving Communion after that. It was very meaningful to me. As a Pastor, I would love to see more of our children being baptized!
At the same time, remember that Passover was designed as a teaching tool and the Jewish observance even focuses on the youngest asking prescribed questions like, “What does this mean?” For that reason, I think it is entirely appropriate for children who are not old enough to believe or be baptized to be included provided it is done reverently and as a teaching tool. We specifically try to recreate the Jewish Passover once a year on the week before Easter and perhaps that would be a good time to include small children, and ask them to wait to pray to receive Christ or follow Him in baptism to partake of regular Communion. But that is your decision and I hope that this information and my opinion help you in making it!
Thank you for being a part of Perry Hall Baptist Church and our prayers are with you as you labor in the most important job you will ever have on this earth: raising your child! God bless you.
Love in Christ,