Encouraging, Living, Reaching


How NOT to Break Bread

How NOT to Break Bread
Mar 20 Tags: Lord's Supper | 18 Responses Print Save as PDF

The Lord’s Supper is precious – both to the Lord and to the believer.  Most of what I have learned about the person of Christ, His peerless character, and priestly work on the cross I have learned during that joyous hour we call the breaking of bread.

The bread and cup re-fix my eyes on the Lord better than any sermon can ever do, re-anchoring my heart on the hope-filled empty tomb.  From time to time, it is helpful to examine how we approach this meeting to make sure we remember and worship the Lord in an optimal way.

A memorial

Whenever I attend a funeral, it always helps me appreciate the breaking of bread meeting in a greater way.  During the eulogy someone speaks lovingly about the person who died and how that person specifically blessed them in the way they led their life.  Never have I heard someone stand up at a funeral and talk about themselves.

How is it then, brothers, some stand up at the breaking of bread and speak about what they have done for Him in witnessing or work?  These things, though good, do not reflect on the Lord but on our own service for Him.

For the Lord’s glory

We should filter our thoughts.  Only those thoughts that reveal, remember or refine our understanding of His character and work should receive “air time” at the meeting.  All other thoughts should be kept to ourselves.  The Holy Spirit seeks to glorify Christ (John 16:14) not us.

When we speak at the Lord’s Supper, we influence and direct the worship of the entire congregation and should be careful not to disrupt the incense of adoration being raised up to the Lord.  Before we share we should ask ourselves: does this reveal something about His character?  Does this cause us to remember or revisit what He did for us?  How does this refine our understanding of Him?

It’s not about us

Whenever I attend a wedding, it also helps me appreciate the meaning of the breaking of bread in a greater way.  The best man’s speech is always focused on the groom, never on anyone or anything else.  The best man speaks of the groom’s qualities – his loyalty, his selflessness, his humility, etc.  The best man does not speak about what he has done for the groom.

To center our attention directly on the groom is the best man’s job, to heighten our appreciation and evaluation of him, and to reveal things about him that we may not have known or have forgotten.  The best man does not speak about other interesting things, facts about history, or his own personal interests, which only serve to take the focus off the all-important groom, but solely on the bridegroom’s glory.  After all, it’s his day not ours.

Why and how we worship

We ought to ask ourselves from time to time why we worship and how we worship.  This too will help us when we come to remember the Lord through the bread and wine.  I submit to you that we worship the Lord when we realize, remember or revisit something beautiful about Him.  By beautiful, I mean something morally beautiful, as in the beauty of His person, work or character.

For example, we should talk about how the Lord manifested His love for individuals, whether at the cross or throughout His life.  We should direct one another to gaze upon His gentleness or humility.  Together we should explore why and how He did things and, like attendees at a funeral or a wedding, we should discover afresh the reasons why we love Him so.  Our hearts will be drawn out in worship as we see Him as He is.

Our estimation of the Lord

Perhaps an illustration will help.  Imagine I revealed to you that brother so-and-so in your meeting five months ago ran into a burning building to save a man who was trapped inside.  This man in your meeting saved another man’s life at great risk to his own.  Naturally, upon hearing this, your estimation of this man will begin to rise.

Upon closer examination, you learn that the man who was saved from the fire had been a great cause of grief and insult to the man who had saved him from the fire – yet he still ran into the building to save him!  This revelation should cause your heart’s estimation of this brother to rise even higher.

It’s not about others

But we do not attend the breaking of bread to examine the lives of our brothers or sisters.  We are there to examine and remember the life of our Lord.  Our Lord is the one who entered the burning building, who not only risked His life but gave it up to save us all.

As we explore, and re-explore, what He did for us, our hearts will naturally be drawn out to worship Him.  That is how we worship.  That is why we should not talk about anything else but Him at the breaking of bread.

It’s not a time for teaching

So, brothers, we must not stand up at the breaking of bread and speak about the prophetical program of Israel.  We must not speak about why Pretribulationalism is true and Amillenialism is wrong.  These topics, though good in themselves, interrupt and steal away our thoughts from dwelling upon the Lord’s character and person.

No time should be spent reflecting upon the unworthiness and failures of the Apostles or ourselves.  Let us rather reflect upon the worthiness and strengths of Christ.  We must not dwell upon the life lessons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, or David and Daniel, though we have much to learn from them.  We must be directed beyond these earthly figures to the One they represent.

Show us Christ!

The next time you stand at the breaking of bread meeting leading in worship, tell us something about Christ.  Show us an aspect of His character.  Thank Him for something He has done for us.  Remind us of who He is.  With more diligence and dignity than he who eulogizes, speak warmly and fondly of the One who died for us.

Direct our hearts to worship His admirable qualities, and center our attention on His glorious grace.  Like a best man who gives a speech at a wedding, speak about the One whom our souls love.

Shane Johnson

Shane Johnson has been commended from Bethel-Park Bible Chapel since 1999.  He resides in Brantford, Ontario with his wife Shelly and his five children.  He has his Bachelor of Arts degree in English and a minor in History.  His passions are teaching children, inspiring young people, writing, music and playing soccer.

18 Responses to How NOT to Break Bread

  1. Brent

    Thank you for writing this article. It should be mandatory reading for every brother in an assembly to encourage him in his audible worship; and be given to every sister to help in her silent worship and for her to use to remind the brethren (me included) that are too often “foolish ones, and slow of heart”.

    Please post this again in six months, if not before!

    Thanks again.

  2. Hanniel Ghezzi

    Good article. Thanks for the thoughts, brother. To your point about the Breaking of Bread not being about teaching; can it still be instructive? I think about the Passover memorial, its OT foreshadow, and how it instructed the younger generation when they asked, “what do you mean by this service?” (Exodus 12:26). Although the focus was most certainly on the Lamb, there was still room for instruction. I think the Breaking of Bread can function similarly, focus on the Lord, but instruct as to its significance.

    • Ryan Hagey

      I think there is definitely an opportunity to tie scriptures together that draw out a better understanding to who Christ is in comparison to God’s overall plan.

      My interpretation of the point about teaching is that the Breaking of Bread isn’t the time to spend 15 minutes talking about things that may be scriptural (e.g. qualifications of being an elder), but don’t focus our attention on Christ.

    • Ryan Hagey

      When preparing to the Breaking of Bread, I typically try to keep these two thoughts in mind:
      1) Who Christ is
      2) What Christ has done (which helps reveal more about who He is)

      • Roy

        As Shane was suggesting, in a wedding – the role of the Best man is to both remind and tell in a way that brings our attention to appreciate (love) the groom. This sounds like both reflection and instruction – but neither as an end in themselves.

  3. The Lord Jesus asked two things when instituting what we call “Breaking of Bread”. . 1. To be remembered 2. That His death be declared. We remember who He is, what He became, what He did for us, what He presently is doing for us and what He will do for us. We declare His death, not just the physical aspect but the intense sufferings at the Hand of a sin hating God. Your article is right on the mark.

  4. Dan

    Thank you for contributing and sharing this excellent article. It’s so important for us to be reminded to keep the focus of this meeting on the Worthy One.

  5. Ginger

    When referring to the Lord’s Supper, I heard a brother say, “One aspect of worship is bragging to God about His Son.”

    The most precious Lord’s Suppers I attend are when brothers may read a passage about the Lord, and then speak to God about what has moved him about Christ. Instead of teaching about worship, or instructing about how a passage shows Christ’s attribute, just tell God.

    As a woman, this helps to LEAD our hearts in worship. It’s as if the rest of us get to enter in to this man’s personal worship time.

    Precious!

  6. Sherri Jason

    Shane, thanks so much for this great encouraging article. I would love it if the men understood that there is no need to be profound or flowery. No need to wax eloquent. Because the Lord Jesus really does just leave us speechless sometimes and even the most accomplished of speakers could never describe His merits fully. The most precious thoughts that lead me to worship are the most heartfelt and simple.

    Your last line says:
    “Direct our hearts to worship His admirable qualities, and center our attention on His glorious grace. Like a best man who gives a speech at a wedding, speak about the One whom our souls love.”

    Just like a best man who talks about the groom, it becomes even more meaningful when he turns and directly speaks to the groom in a personal way. That’s the moment when we all understand how close they really are. I would encourage the men not to stop short of this moment in worship. Don’t just speak about Him, talk to Him directly and tell Him how amazing and worthy He is!

  7. Jim Paul

    Excellent article Shane and good comments followed. When one participates in reading a scripture it should be in association with “remember me! It is all about our Lord Jesus Christ! Not exhortation or even instruction but one of reflection. We should always remember it is the father who seeks worshippers, so if scripture is read it is good when the brother not only addresses the assembly but also concludes in talking to the Father about His Son!

  8. Scott Thomson

    Shane, thank you for your wonderful article regarding the Lord’s Supper. A wonderful reminder of how precious it is to gather as His people and remember Him. Thanks again.

  9. Kaz Ortiz

    Thank you for this article. It is timeless and a necessary reminder to us men who’s privilege it is to glorify our savior at the Lord’s supper. May we humbly offer sacrifice of praise with the spirit mentioned in this article. Thank you.

  10. Roy Murphy

    I totally agree with your view of the Breaking of the Bread Meeting. Ant subject that distracts from the Lord’s Glory and His impeccable character should NOT be part of the Breaking of the Bread Service. I personally get annoyed a Some of our Brotheren when this happens and it seems to spoil the whole atmosphere of the meeting. So I want to say thank you for this article Roy.

  11. John Mark Bjorlie

    I certainly support and enjoy the format and intent of the Breaking of Bread meeting. However, where are the scripture references to support this article?

    • TOM

      John, I’m quite sure you are not suggesting worship is enhanced by debating Amillennialism, or that it should be about something other than the person of Christ. It seems to me that most of what Shane advocates follows very naturally from the words “in remembrance of me”, no?

      • John Mark Bjorlie

        Certainly. Thank you for clarifying. I was inquiring on what scripture passages we can look to, for establishing the meeting format we subscribe to. It seems important to have scripture behind our doctrines. Especially ones where we are emphatic about how a meeting is to be conducted.

  12. Joshua Poole

    This article is spot on. I read it first a few months ago and I am enjoying it again. I have been doing a study through 1 Corinthians at my home meeting and wanting to reread this so I could share some points from it during my message on chapter 11: 18-34. I might also add as an encouragement (not a criticism of the article but just my own thought) to those reading that you don’t have to be a gifted preacher or an eloquent orator to partake verbally in this sacred time of remembrance. As a general rule, the times I have been most touched or had tears come to my eyes at the Lord’s Supper are the times when I hear a brother get up who I know struggles to stand in front of others and shares a simple but heart felt sentiment for and about our Saviour. Those are the moments of rich sacrifice Hebrews 13:15 “…let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to his name.”

  13. Larry

    Thank you for this article. I hope I’m not being too “picky”, but I think that even the hymns we sing at the breaking of bread should be carefully chosen.For instance, a gospel song doesn’t seem appropriate for this meeting while it would be suitable for the preaching time(what our assembly calls “The Family Bible Hour”). Nor do many Christmas songs seem fitting for this meeting during that season. Am I alone in this thought?

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