A very different atmosphere is created when communion is taken in a small group. The home setting creates a more relaxed and informal environment instead of the larger and often more formal approach associated with a Sunday service. In many ways breaking bread in cell/small groups brings us closer to the original setting in the upper room when Jesus first broke bread with his disciples. The more intimate setting of a small group gives us scope to share bread and wine in a number of different ways altogether.
I have outlined a few here and I am sure there are many more variants that could be helpful in your particular setting. I hope that the following ideas are useful and draw you closer to God and each other as you use them. Please note it is important that, if you are doing this in an Anglican setting, you seek permission from your vicar.
1. Different emphasis that you can bring:-
- Emphasis on the past – setting the context of looking at the Passover story which is the context of the last supper – Matthew 26:17. Re tell the story of the Passover (Exodus 12) and notice the links with our salvation through Jesus.
- Emphasis on the present – using familiar verses from 1 Corinthians 11:17-33. Spend time examining ourselves and where appropriate encourage the group to confess to each other and ask forgiveness.
- Emphasis on the future – using the verses in 1 Corinthians 11 and in particular picking up on verse 26 “Until he comes” highlighting Jesus’ return and the fulfilment of the kingdom of God. The same theme is in the Matthew text Matthew 26:29.
As mentioned earlier a small group situation gives greater opportunity for intimacy around communion, this can be used to create different practices than may be used in a more public Sunday setting. The following are a few ideas that you might like to try in your group.
- Have the bread and wine as part of a full meal together and create worship opportunities as you eat together. Perhaps reading a psalm between courses or encouraging testimonies to be shared. The breaking of bread can happen at any point during the meal. I have been in groups where the cell is run around the table using the 4Ws as a frame work and having bread and wine in the worship slot early on in the evening prior to the main course being served.
- The most obvious place to share bread and wine in your cell evening is probably during the worship time. Equally the whole evening can be given over to this and the components of cell weaved into the communion experience. For example:
How do you encounter Jesus when you share bread and wine?
Thank God for all he has made possible through Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Read 1 Corinthians 11:17-33. Ask what can we learn from this passage? Break bread and drink wine reading the relevant portions of scripture as you go using the passage as your guide.
Share how your encounter with Jesus in bread and wine will be outworked as you share Him with others this week. Pray for each other that, just as the bread and wine have become part of you, so the values Jesus had may be an integral part of your everyday life.
- Encourage participation. In the larger setting the leader out of necessity runs the communion. In a cell group there is far greater scope to involve each person… here are a few ideas:-
Reading the verses being used
Prayer of thanks for the bread
Prayer of thanks for the wine
Breaking the bread and distributing it
Passing the wine and distributing it
Leading a time of reflection around each element
Commissioning the group as you close the time
Setting the scene as you start
Leading a time where you pray for each other as you break the bread
Asking a group member to bake the bread and bring it
- There can be great power in using the bread and wine as vehicles for ministry to occur amongst the group. One of my favourite ways to encourage this is to ask people to take a piece of bread and give it to another group member. As they do this ask them to share with the individual something they appreciate about them. The group needs to be briefed that each person needs to be served so there is shared responsibility for this to happen. Also you can say that it is fine for people to receive more than one piece of bread.