Baptism, Infant Communion & Faith Formation

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I often wonder what Karlie, my 15-month-old granddaughter is learning. A few Sundays ago she drop her offering into the plate without any prompting. How did she learn to do that? It wasn’t explained to her; even if it was she couldn’t have understood what was said. The neurosciences remind us that the brain creates neuro-pathways by repeating an action or activity. Each Sunday since she was born I’ve carried her forward and helped her place her offering in the plate. Neuro-pathways are being created that connect attending worship with the bringing of an offering. Bringing an offering, I trust, is becoming part of her identity in Christ.

That same Sunday as we gathered for the Lord’s Supper a troubling thought raced through my mind. I was holding Karlie and as the elements went by she eagerly and expectantly reached for a piece of bread. She seemed to intuit its significance. As Karlie, a baptized member of the covenant community, reached out for the bread I wondered “why not?” What is she learning about the community of faith when everyone else partakes but she is not permitted too?

I’m still wondering what she is learning when she experiences everyone else partaking of the Lord’s Supper. She cannot tell me; she only looks at me with disappointment in her eyes, pointing to the bread and saying “That”. This saddens my heart because I suspect she is learning something different than what is intended about her place and value within the body of Christ. 

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Darwin,

What are some denominations that have historically practiced infant communion?  Are there any studies that show its effect/improvement upon the process of faith formation?

 

Hi Jeff, the best list of churches I can locate who allow for/practice infant communion is on the Paedocommunion.com web site. In regards to the research question, I am unsure of any research that directly tackles this question. The research on children and God generally follows a biological/developmental model rather than a socialization of model of learning.  This area is ripe for research. I'll do some more digging to to see if those researching in the area of children's ministry can provide any leads.   dg

I received an email asking about research on the faith development of those who were raised in a tradition that practiced infant communion. At this point I've not located any qualitative research in this area. In addition it would be difficult to separate this one variable from the others. I do think the current research by Smith et al as well as Mayo, Mayo and Savage on the roles of adults in young people's lives provides some insight into the issue.