1 Corinthians 11:27-29 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself.This is a serious warning folks and like everything else in the Bible it is not one that we can ignore because we find it inconvenient or hard.
Now, I have heard people complain about the exclusivity of close(d) communion but never have they been a person who was previously unchurched. Everybody, who I have ever heard complain about close(d) communion is either a LC-MS'er who has family visiting that belongs to another denomination or is person who had more than nominal connections to a different denomination. These are the people that generally find it hard, because they consider themselves Christians and think that we are saying they are not. So, in a sense, the only people we are chasing off are the church shoppers.
It has been my experience that the previously unchurched appreciate the forthrightness of close(d) communion because they are worried about what to do and this answers their question. In our congregation we have devised this communion statement.
Holy Communion is a special gift of God to His people. It is celebrated here (blah, blah, blah, info on when we have communion)... Since the Lord instructs us to examine ourselves before we receive His Body and Blood, (1 Cor. 11:27-29) we ask that you reflect on the following questions:I had wanted to add the proviso that they could come up to receive a blessing and should indicate so by crossing their arms and bowing their head, but I was overruled by our Senior Pastor. Not really sure why, but oh well, not that important.
Do you acknowledge that you have sinned and are in need of forgiveness? (Rms 3:22-23)
Has God brought you into His family by means of Baptism? (Rms 6:3-5)
Do you believe that God the Father sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to shed his blood for you and that, He has called you to Christ by the Holy Spirit? (Eph 2:4-9)
Do you believe that Jesus has promised to give you His true Body and Blood in, with, and under the bread and wine of the Sacraments? (Mt 26:26-28)
Do you believe that Jesus offers forgiveness of sins with His Body and Blood? (Mt 26:26-28)
If you were unable to answer "yes" to these questions, we would ask that you please speak with one of the Pastors before receiving communion.
Now, before we begin to take up the offering we announce that this is in the bulletin and ask people to make use of this time to reflect on the questions. I know this system isn't perfect but it does work. I have had people who went through our new member's class thank us for putting this in because it made their experience easier and I have had long time members tell me they love it because they use it themselves to prepare for communion. So, you can't tell me that close(d) communion is an impediment to witnessing. It really boils down to how you present it. As you can see we went to great lengths to always bring it back to the Bible (btw, we have Bibles in the pews so people unfamiliar with the passages can look them up.) I think this helps lessen the perception we are telling them they are unworthy and allows them to see we are serious about obeying God's word. Besides as I mentioned before in other places exclusion from communion did not impede the spread of the Gospel as evidenced by the practices of the early church where they sent the uncatechized home before starting communion (Dowley, Tim. Introduction to The History of Christianity).