I attended an Anglican ordination service in Melbourne just over a week ago, communion was served (as we Anglicans do), and I noticed a Middle Eastern lady wearing a headscarf, quite possibly Muslim, returning from receiving the elements and quietly weeping. Now, I don’t know who she was or what was happening in her heart, but I got the impression this was a very important moment for her, perhaps even a point of conversion. In any case, such experiences raise, for me at least, the issue of whether the eucharist can be an evangelistic tool.
An interesting point is raised by James Dunn (Beginning from Jerusalem) who asks whether unbelievers ever partook of the “Lord’s Dinner”? Can the eucharist be evangelistic? Here’s Dunn’s comment:
All this leaves unresolved the question whether unbelievers and outsiders were admitted to the Lord’s dinner. The implication of 14.23-24, that such could be present when believers came together as church, may apply only to gatherings for worship. At the same time, we should not assume that the shared meals had a specially sacred character that disbarred unbelievers and outsiders from sharing in them [cf. Rom. 14.6]. Was every shared meal ‘the Lord’s dinner’? Was the bread broken and the wine drunk at every meal ‘in remembrance’ of Jesus (11.24-25)? We have already noted the same ambiguity with regard to Luke’s references to the ‘breaking of bread’. And it would be unduly hasty to assume that the hospitality which a Christian couple like Aquila and Priscilla extended to fellow believers and others would have had a markedly different character (in their eyes) from the meals shared when the whole church gathered in one place. Whether or not the Lord’s table was seen as an evangelistic opportunity in these early years, we can be fairly confident that Christian hospitality did result in many guests and visitors coming to faith in the Lord of their hosts (Dunn, BFJ 647).