When Should a Child Participate in Communion?

I love that children by nature want to experience so much. They are inquisitive and desire to be part of everything. I love that God made them that way. I have been asked about children partaking in Communion. When should a child participate in Communion? Is there a proper age? This is a great question to look at.

I have seen it: the Communion elements are being passed out and a parent sitting with their children asks, “Is this for kids?” Children by nature want to participate because you as a parent are doing it.

There cannot be a set age limit. I believe it varies based on their understanding of Communion and their spiritual maturity. Jesus tells us that we should partake of Communion often in remembrance of Him (Luke 22:14–23). Paul gives us the warning not to eat of it in an unworthy manner (1 Corinthians 11:27). This needs to be applied to children as well as adults. The remembrance of the Lord’s Supper is for the believer. This is to remind us of the cost of our sin, Jesus’ death, and to reflect on God’s grace. It is to be a reminder of how greatly loved you are by God. It is to remind you of your need for Jesus and Him alone for salvation. It is to be a time of celebration that your sins have been paid for by Jesus. The warning of “not taking it in an unworthy manner” means that not just anyone can partake of it.

I have heard different sides to this question. Some may suggest for children to wait until they can fully grasp the depth of Communion, such as in the teenage years. Others suggest that when a child has made a confession of faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, they are ready.

What matters before anyone can partake in Communion, regardless of age, is the “why.” Why are we doing this? If your child sees you partaking of Communion and wants to participate just like you, what a great opportunity for you as a parent to express what Communion is all about. You get to be their teacher! You can evaluate to see if they are ready. Here are some important thoughts when allowing children to participate in Communion.

  • Your child needs to have confessed Jesus as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9).
  • Your child needs to understand the significance of Communion (1 Corinthians 11:17—32).
  • Your child should desire to be walking in obedience (2 John 6).

But, what if they ask during Communion and you know they are not ready? You may be afraid because you don’t want to make a scene by saying no when they don’t understand why they can’t. First, I would encourage you to talk to your child before this situation comes up. You should let them know what the Lord’s Supper is and why we remember it. There is nothing wrong with encouraging them to wait. Waiting is not a bad thing. You are viewing Communion as something very special and very serious. You do not want it to be taken flippantly or casually. Communion is a very serious time when we reflect on what Jesus has done and it shouldn’t just be taken by anyone and everyone. By guarding Communion as a special time, it will make that time much more important for your child when they are ready to partake of it. They will see it as important by your example and explanation. As a parent, use wisdom and discernment regarding when your child is ready.

The Insight of Children

My daughter and I were having a conversation as we were driving back from the store. I mentioned to her that we were almost home and she said, “Daddy, that is not our home; heaven is our home.” I responded by telling her that she was correct, as Paul said, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:20 ESV).” Children have some good spiritual insight at times. I love that she was thinking about heaven and it reminded me of how I should be thinking of heaven often.

I was reminded of how children had insight about Jesus in the New Testament. In Matthew 21, in what is called the “Triumphal Entry,” Jesus enters into Jerusalem, riding on a donkey, like a victorious king. The crowds yell, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” They lay palm branches and their coats on the ground. This is a great picture of Jesus being the King of kings. The next day, Jesus cleans out the temple as they were using God’s house not for worship, but for making money. This action of course caused a lot of uproar from among the religious leaders. As Jesus was healing the blind and the lame, the chief priests and the scribes came to Him to confront Him. And as they were about to open their mouths, we read a verse which says, “and the children were crying out in the temple, ‘Hosanna to the Son of David’” (verse 15).

Continue reading