Recently one of our Community Group leaders asked why we don't observe the Lord's Supper in our Community Groups. We realized we hadn't walked the leaders through our position. It is a good question, and one that needs to be answered thoughtfully. We met last weekend with all of them to explain our position. There are many churches who do allow communion to be served at their small groups and in other contexts. Because of the warnings and actions of God against those who partake of the ordinance in an unworthy manner, and because of God’s charge to leaders to exercise discipline in this area, we are led to the following conclusion: Because the The Lord's Supper is given to the local church, it is only when the local church is assembled, with the oversight of the elders, that we can properly observe the Lord’s Supper.
The Lord's Supper was not simply given to Christians, but to the church and is to be shared in by the body (1 Cor. 10:16). Consider what the Apostle Paul says.
But in the following instructions I do not commend you, because when you come together it is not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as a church, I hear that there are divisions among you. And I believe it in part, for there must be factions among you in order that those who are genuine among you may be recognized. When you come together, it is not the Lord's supper that you eat. For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not.
1 Cor. 11:17-22
In this passage Paul indicates that to "come together" is not just any gathering, but the gathering of a church itself. In fact in verse 22 he contrasts the formal gathering of the church with people returning to their own homes. There were serious problems in the church, especially as it relates to this sacred tradition. Paul is addressing those issues and in doing so he shows us where the problems took place--where the church gathered together. The Second London confession expresses this view, that the Lord's Supper is to be observed in the church.
Redeemer Fellowship's statement of faith (based on the Abstract of Principles, 1859) states the same plainly.
Because this is a church ordinance it is to be administered or overseen by the elders of the church. This was at the heart of the problem in the Corinthian church. Not only had the membership gone off the tracks with the sacrament, but there wasn't proper oversight.
This is why we only observe communion when we are assembled together as a church. I understand that this is not everyone's conviction. I also get that it isn't as plainly stated in Scripture as some would like. The Scripture doesn't explicitly say, "No communion outside of the assembly." But it always presents communion as being an assembly experience. All of this, coupled with our responsibility to operate as closely as we can to Scripture and the principles therein, leads us to our practice.