The Bible must serve as the authority of church practice. In order to lead a church in the practice of close communion, the pastor must first submit himself to Scripture and lead his church in doing the same. He must patiently teach his congregation what God’s Word teaches about the Lord’s Supper in his preaching ministry, remind them upon every observance of the meal, and lead the congregation in their remembrance and observation.
After teaching about the Lord’s Supper, the pastor must clarify to the congregation that they must first examine themselves—explaining to them the implications of unity within the church. He then educates the congregation that “no member of one Baptist church can claim it as a right to commune in any other Baptist church,” however, “a church may and ought through courtesy to invite brethren of the same faith and order.” After explaining this, the pastor extends the courteous invitation to those of similar faith and practice and in good fellowship in their local assembly, and he leads the church in the observance of the Lord’s Supper.
It is of utmost importance to determine who is invited to the Lord’s Supper. This series has demonstrated that open communion willingly invites those in disobedience to eat and drink judgment upon themselves, and that closed communion draws the circle too tightly. The Biblical testimony calls for close communion, and extending this invitation to others of like faith and practice, in right standing with their church “has historic precedence among Baptists.”
It is not the easiest position to hold; it will be critiqued from advocates of both open and closed communion. As such, it demands that the pastor instruct and educate his congregation faithfully, persistently, and patiently. Inviting others of the same faith and practice—though they hold membership elsewhere—proclaims the unity of those who are in Christ as the pastor breaks the loaf and lifts the cup.