I have been asked by several pastors to describe how the Plymouth Brethren conduct a Lords Supper Meeting. It must be noted that other Brethren groups also conduct this meeting in the same manner (The Indian Brethren for example.) It is believed that the pattern which follows 1 Corinthians 14, whereby the laity take turns leading the meeting has been observed in this manner since the time of the apostles. The Indian Brethren for example claim to observed the Lords Supper Meeting since the Apostle Thomas came to them. It is believed the Baptists practised the Lords Supper Meeting in this manner as well up to the fifteenth century when they began to be known as Baptists rather than as previously when they too called themselves Brethren.
I Corinthians 11.20 expresses a fear on the part of the Apostle Paul that the Lords Supper Meeting was not the reason for meeting at Corinth. The PB’s fear this as well about the majority of Christian groups that meet today without the Lords Supper Meeting as their main focus.
In the fourth century the Catholic church changed the Lords Supper Meeting into an addendum to be added at the end of a service. Addendum in the Latin language is where we get the name “MASS” from. The Reformation did not fully reform the church back to the pre-fourth century practice of observing the Lords Supper Meeting. The Indian brethren are the only group we know of that has observed this meeting unbroken since the time of the Apostle Thomas coming to them. The Plymouth Brethren formed in the 1830’s with the desire to restore this meeting to the church.
1 Thessalonians 4 tells us that there are several pastor(s), evangelist(s) and teacher(s) In the local church. Revelation tells us that all believers are priests. In fact the Protestant movement was formed on the belief in the priesthood of all believers. Because of this multiplicity of gifting by the Holy Spirit in the local assembly and because of the directions given in 1 Corinthians 14 which indicates that there are several speakers, several hymns and several prayers the Brethren have practiced this in the Lords Supper Meeting since the 1830’s. This pattern has also been practiced in other meetings of the church as well but most prevalently in the Lords Supper Meeting.
A friend of Bible Door, Roger Langley reminded me that the Lord’s Supper meeting is also the only meeting of the church that allows for the full expression of the priesthood of all believers (Rev 1.6). The belief in the doctrine of the priesthood of all believers is the belief that carried the Reformation movement and it is a belief that was never lost nor in need of reform by brethren groups since the time of Christ. Brethren is the term given to Christians far more often (200 x) in the New Testament than the term Christian itself. (Heb. 2.11,12).
This meeting has been held on a weekly basis uninterrupted since the inauguration of the Church 50 days after the Passover Sabbath which falls on a Sunday each year. It is also the day that the Lord Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. Originally this meeting was held at the supper hour 6pm and it included a meal. For the first 3 centuries Sunday was a regular work day so it was necessary to meet in the evening. The bible itself calls the meeting the Lords supper, indicating that it was practiced as a supper meeting (1 Cor. 11.20). Some assemblies still practice this meeting as a supper meeting today. I personally think that it is a shame that many churches have abandoned meeting at the supper hour and I would like to see them re-establish the Lords Supper Meeting in that abandoned time slot. Today many have to work on Sunday once again and a Supper Meeting would allow those persons to come and fellowship with those that have the day off.