What about travelling missionaries who are ‘on the road’ all their life? Should they be given communion when they visit another church, even their sending church? No, because a missionary, wherever he is in the world, should never be too far away from his home church to be able to get back there regularly to take communion. This reinforces the purpose of missions, to plant churches. The missionary should therefore concentrate on planting a church wherever in the world he has been sent, and then call it his home church and join it as a member. The local church on his mission-field, or the one he has planted himself, should be the one in which he takes communion.

This begs the question, what is a missionary? Is a missionary an evangelist who constantly jets around the world spending only a few days or months evangelising a place and then rapidly moving on to somewhere different? No, it cannot be, because that would mean that the missionary had no local church to take communion in. A Biblical missionary is one who plants a church, and having planted it, joins it, and subjects himself to the service and love and discipline of the body membership of Christ in that local church. He does not need to jet back to his home country to take communion. If someone walked into our own church and said “I’m a missionary, let me take communion with you”, our answer should be “No, there is no need for us to open our table to you. We don’t have what you need. What you need is communion with your home church, back wherever you’ve just come from. Go take communion there, back where it has a meaning for you. It has no meaning for you here”.

If a missionary plants many churches in different places all over the world, he should pick the one that seems to need him the most, or the one that’s easiest to get to, and join it, and take communion there. And that will be where his responsibility as a church member and child of God will be based.

It is true that missionaries often need to be away from their mission field (that is, their communion church), for long periods of several months, for deputation, medical reasons, other complications, or furloughs of half a year or more. In such circumstances, they should (with the church’s permission) take communion in (or perhaps even temporarily join) whatever available and like-minded local church is most conveniently located during this interruption to their usual work and location on the mission-field.

We can see then, how the correct Biblical administration of the Lord’s Supper dictates the correct Biblical way of doing missions. Not the other way round. A proper scriptural management of the Lord’s Supper that is to say, Closed Communion, is the beginning and the centre of church life and management. Communion isn’t just something extra that we do on the side. It’s the focal point of what we should be doing as a church, and all other Christian activities flow from it and are governed by the meaning of a closed communion supper.


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