I was asked about family worship and felt like the answer(s) would be beneficial for others as well. The general lack of understanding about family worship is connected with the church not teaching and encouraging families and fathers to make it a priority in family life. And the busyness of life makes it incredibly hard. I don’t want anyone to feel guilted into family worship. But I do want you to feel a push of encouragement to do so.
Where do we reclaim churches from the grasp of sin? How do we best prepare our children and young adults to fight the wiles of the devil and keep their sinful, fleshly desires at bay? What is the best way to bring “children up ‘in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’ (Eph 6:4), ‘so that they should set their hope in God’ (Psalm 78:7)”[9marks]? The answer is the same to all of these: the primacy of God’s Word in the family on a daily basis. Families, fathers, and mothers have such important and God-given roles in life. How spectacular is it that a Biblically faithful family can be the tool of God to initiate change in many surrounding families! Be encouraged to know that what you do as a family to make the Word of God the main focus creates waves of influence. First, it influences your children, and that is reason enough. Second, it is rather contagious, affecting well beyond your own family. Lastly and most importantly, God is glorified. Here are a couple things to think through and some resources for you all.
Family Worship is about God
Sounds easy enough, but it can be tough in today’s culture. On the hard days when mom and dad are really wanting the kids in bed and chill time afterwards, family worship seems like a chore. And we are constantly taught that “forcing it” makes that worship less than. In truth, worship is a discipline. We must will it to happen during the desert times. A mind that is focused on the things above (Col. 3:2) pushes through the deceitfulness of the heart (Jer. 17:9) to will worship to happen even when we don’t want to worship. You won’t even begin to understand the impact of your perseverance on your children. Family worship is about God not the family, though it certainly benefits the family in many ways.
Family Worship doesn’t have to be complicated
If you are like me (and that’s my general assumption), then the concept of family worship seems daunting. “How do we do this? What should we do or not do? Where do we start? I have no idea…I just need help.” To put your mind at ease, let’s talk about congregational worship. There are only seven things that God has prescribed to be a part of congregational worship: Preaching (from the Bible), Reading (from the Bible), Lord’s Day meeting, administration of the sacraments, hearing the Word of God, Prayer to God, Singing (Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs) [Regulative Principle of Worship]. That’s all fairly straightforward. But it doesn’t all apply to family worship. The main elements of worship for family worship are preaching, reading, hearing, praying, and singing the Bible. Or simply to read, pray, and sing. Don’t draw it out. Just make it sincere. Fathers, explain the passage read and apply it to the lives within you family. Memorize Scripture with the family. Lead and teach the family to pray. Sing praises that are God-centered and Biblically strong.
Family Worship obeys God’s explicit instruction
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
I don’t really have to say much here. God is serious about it, enables us to do it in Christ, forgives us for our failures to do it, and expects us to be serious about it. I’m very thankful that God has forgiven my failures in this area. I have always led the kids to memorize, but family worship was lacking. God convicted, and it has been a wonderful transition for our family. I can’t encourage you enough in this area.
What does Family Worship look like exactly? I need help!
- Donald Whitney’s Family Worship
- Desiring God’s Leading Family Worship
- Radical’s (David Platt) Family Worship Guides
- Ligonier’s Family Worship 101
Our (Current) Plan of Attack:
- Pray over the family, specific needs, sleep of children, lessons learned throughout the day, and the like (we also verbalize prayer for the salvation of our children)
- Scripture memory (currently 1 Corinthians 13), reading the whole passage while the children repeat the verses they currently know
- Scripture reading and explanation (currently John), this takes prep by the fathers
- Scripture recitation (John 3:16), we started this verse with them from a very young age quoting it to them before bed nightly
- Singing (current favorites are Amazing Grace, All to Us, 10,000 Reasons), remember that this is specifically God-centered, Biblically accurate songs
- Hugs and kisses goodnight (we do this before bed because that’s best for us, just make it regular and dedicated)
We sometimes have a more abbreviated time that includes prayer, Scripture memorization, and singing. I hope this is helpful and encouraging. Don’t sweat it if you miss a night or fumble over your words. Dedicate to bring Jesus to your family in family worship. Give them Jesus.