Teaching Kids about Communion
There’s no doubt about it – teaching kids about communion isn’t easy! Both Protestants and Catholics place great importance on communion, which is also called the Eucharist or the Lord’s Supper.
So many of us have been taking communion for so long that we can’t quite remember what are the essential parts to tell a child. Children often have short attention spans and don’t easily grasp concepts rooted in tradition or symbolism. Further, the liturgy we use for communion is both familiar and mysterious at the same time. Kids don’t even know what some of those words mean, although they may hear them as often as daily or weekly.
Since this post is intended for readers of multiple Christian denominations, I won’t get bogged down here in the specifics of HOW to take communion. I am a Methodist, and some of our churches will pass communion elements down the aisle, while others will take communion by intinction. Still others gather at altar rails for prayer. Perhaps in your place of worship, a priest places the elements directly in your mouth.
Similarly, our church treats the elements as symbols of Christ’s body and blood; whereas the Catholic church teaches that they literally become Christ’s body and blood.
I won’t focus any further on our differences because there is plenty to teach about communion that remains the same across Christian denominations.
The Bible is really confusing, even for adults. Here’s how to make sure you explain it the right way to kids and teenagers – to prevent frustration and confusion later on.
Communion Lesson Plan for Kids
Most church classes, or even home school lessons, are no longer than 45 minutes. You may find it’s helpful to split these lesson components across multiple days.
Teach your kids the story of the Last Supper.
I absolutely love story Bibles for kids. Most Catholic kids take communion for the first time around age 8 or 9, and many Protestant children experience it much younger than that. A story Bible will help bring to life the Biblical significance of the sacrament.
My favorite story Bible by far is the Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones. I love the beautiful way she tells stories and how it lives up to it’s subtitle: “every story whispers His name.” I’ve got a post reviewing a bunch of children’s Bibles by age if you’re interested!
You can also show a short video below to teach about what happened that evening.
If you want to use a grown-up Bible, you can look up the story in Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-25; Luke 22:7-20; and John 13:1-30.
Know what your faith teaches about communion.
I’ll be the first to say that I don’t believe people need to agree with 100% of what their church teaches. You can identify most with a certain denomination and worship with the people there without being in complete harmony on every single issue.
You do need to at least understand what your church teaches and explain that to children before they take communion. Here are some things that Methodists believe, that I will teach my children when they are ready. Some of these ideas may resonant with you:
- We remember Jesus’s sacrifice and love of us when we take communion.
- God gives us this gift because He wants us to be one with Christ, even when we’ve done nothing to deserve that. With a repentant heart, we are made new at communion.
- Communion is special, and only ordained ministers or priests can bless the elements before we receive them.
- HOW we take communion matters far less than the spirit in which we take it. It’s okay that different kinds of Christians and even individual churches use different methods; it’s the message of Christ’s love that’s important.
- Our communion table is open to anyone who loves Christ and earnestly repents of their sins.
For more information about how different denominations understand communion, check out this helpful post.
Discuss behavioral expectations about communion.
This part is likely quite easy – as an adult, it’s easy to see the behavioral expectations that are in place as your church family celebrates the eucharist.
Maybe children will kneel next to their family, or hold their hands a certain way to receive the bread. Perhaps people are expected to dip the bread in the juice, or any other tradition. These tend to vary by not just denomination, but also by each individual church.
Teach your kids exactly what to expect to avoid embarrassment for everyone! But remember, most church leaders have lots of experience with kids doing unexpected things during important, reverent moments. It’s probably just fine!
Communion Object Lesson
This lesson, which is adapted from Sermons4Kids, focuses on the part of the Last Supper story when Christ tells his disciples to “do this in remembrance of me.”
Possible supplies – it’s okay to use any combination of these!
- What Would Jesus Do Bracelets – if you have these bracelets, they make a fun little take-home prize. Fortunately, they are still easy to find on Amazon in bulk! However, for the purpose of this lesson, you can include them as part of your lesson.
- Post It Notes
- Digital Calendar (using a smart phone)
- Paper Calendar
- Bread or Crackers
- Juice in Cups
For this lesson, you’ll want to begin by telling kids about the Last Supper. You can include the part about the foot washing, but to be clear and concise, you might consider just telling them about Jesus sharing a last meal with his disciples.
He told them to “do this in remembrance of me,” because Christ knew he would die. He wanted his followers to remember Him and his teachings.
No matter your denomination, this is a central tenet of communion. When we consume the bread and juice (or wine), we are infusing our bodies and spirits with Jesus. We experience communion regularly, whether that means each day, each week, each month or quarterly. That’s because we want to remember Christ, His sacrifice for us (his body and blood) and His teachings, too.
For your object lesson, you can begin with either the WWJD bracelets or a collection of calendars to showcase.
If you use the WWJD bracelets, you can tell how they became a fad, and a way to remember Jesus in our daily lives.
If you opt for sticky notes, a paper calendar, and a digital calendar, you can just freely talk with kids about how we have so much to remember! We all have different ways that we try not to forget things.
One thing we should never forget is how much Jesus loves us, and communion is one reminder of that.
As you transition into telling the story of the Last Supper, you’ll have on hand your bread and juice. You can present these however your church offers them during communion, whether that be in individual cups or in a larger chalice, with a loaf of bread or crackers.
Teaching kids about communion isn’t easy, but I hope these ideas and resources were helpful!