For us, it started with a conviction that discipleship begins in the home. The idea that Sunday School won’t save our children, that Youth Group won’t replace a godly, involved father. My husband and I didn’t read any books on “family worship”, though we probably heard plenty of sermons about parental discipleship of children. (We’re sermon addicts!)
We didn’t start family worship with any clear direction, a schedule, or a plan. What has developed over the past few years, though, has become an integral part of our daily life. Family worship has a purpose in our home, and you may find it has a purpose in yours – whether you homeschool, send your children to Christian school, or to a public school.
I haven’t spent a lot of time studying the theology family worship, so I won’t address that. I’ll just share our testimony concerning this practice.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up in the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it. Proverbs 22:6
Family Worship ~ What is it?
Family worship is just what it sounds like – worshiping as a family. This can involve reading the Word, prayer, singing and teaching. It can be really simple. We don’t include anything that we feel is a sacrament specified to be celebrated with the Church body, or to be administered by a pastor. So, we don’t take communion or baptize – nothing along those lines. We’re just gathering together as a family to spend a period of time learning more about the King of the Universe, and to praise His Holy Name.
The Beginnings of Family Worship ~ A Devotion to Start the Day
I like to begin the morning with prayer, a little Scripture, and some worldview training. We do this to begin our homeschool day. Before we homeschooled, I did this in the morning after breakfast. Sometimes my husband is involved in this part of the day, but often he is at work.
I start with a devotional of some sort with the kids. I don’t always pick a book billed as a devotional. Rather, I pick a book about some topic that I’d like us to look at from a Scriptural stance. We’ve read hilarious selections, such as The Adventures of Average Boy: Growing Up Super Average by comedian Bob Smiley, and Focus on the Family Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr. Editor Jesse Florea. We’ve also read more apologetic or theological selections like Josh and Sean McDowell’s Jesus is Alive! Right now, we’re working on Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex Harris and Brett Harris.
We also read a short section of the Bible (see the Bible Roadtrip section below to check out what we’re inviting you to do with us beginning this fall).
Father Leads Best ~ Our Evening Routine
My husband started us off simply in the evenings. He read a chapter from Proverbs each evening to correspond with the day of the month (on June 1st, we read chapter 1 – on June 23rd, we read chapter 23). We would have a short prayer, discuss any questions we had about the Proverbs reading (usually with the aid of a good commentary), discuss our day, then head off to bed. He’s since added another section of Scripture to the reading. We’ve been through a study of passages on prayer, passages on praise, and we are currently reading Luke together. As we have all adjusted to family worship, everyone has developed the habit of communal prayer. It’s been exciting to pray with the kids for missional desires – and then to watch those prayers be answered. Our community is changing as the result of our children’s prayers. Talk about a faith-builder for me!
As you can see, my husband isn’t making family worship complicated. He’s sticking to the Scriptures, and to prayer. I know a lot of people sing, and many fathers teach. I think that there’s a lot of freedom in how your family worships in your home!
One last note on Proverbs. Clearly, if you’re going to teach on Proverbs, your kids mustknow about sex – and about God’s plan for sex. If that’s an issue for you, I’d ask you to consider educating your children on a subject that will affect their lives in either devastating or spectacular ways. I wrote more about the subject in The Birds and the Bees Never Did That. It’s not my most tactful blog post, but I still agree with myself. For a couple of books that we used to discuss sex, check out Teaching God’s Design for Sex – Two Excellent Tools for the Job.
Finding Time for Worship
Family worship takes time. If you’re as busy as the average family, worshiping the King of the Universe mayrequire letting go of something else. Not willing to do that? Well, friends… that is a heart issue. We gave up television. Honestly. The boys are still allowed to watch 30 minutes a day (they usually watch Jelly Telly – it’s free – it’s online – it’s about the Bible). My husband and I, however, haven’t watched television in more than a year. We do still watch a carefully chosen movie once in a while as an in-the-house date night. We werethat serious about choosing to worship God as a family – and our favorite shows were clearly getting in the way.
Bible Roadtrip ~ One Option for Your Family Worship Time
This coming school year, the boys and I will be starting a 3 year survey of the Bible. We’re using a few resources – and our Bibles. We’re calling it Bible Roadtrip. I’m putting together a schedule (and dividing it into 3 different levels: 1-3 grade, 4-6 grade, and 7-9 grade). The curriculum syllabus will cover 32 weeks, and can be used as a homeschool Bible class, in a co-op, in a Sunday School class, or as a resource for your family worship. It’s up to you. It’ll be free and printable. I just ask that you don’t electronically post the actual curriculum to your own website or blog. The grade levels may be challenging (7-9th grade will definitely be using resources that could be applied to the high school or adult crowd), so you’ll want to take that into consideration if you’re interested in using Bible Roadtrip. Look for the first post here at Thinking Kids in a couple weeks.
A Few Family Worship Resources to Start Your Family Worship
I mentioned that I’m just sharing our experience, right? I thought you might be interested in a little extra reading to get you started with your own family worship. Here’s four:
- Pastor Jason Helapoulos, author of The What, When and How of Family Worship, blogging at the Gospel Coalition: “11 Reasons to Worship with Your Family”.
- In a follow-up post, “The What, When, and How of Family Worship”, Pastor Jason Helapoulos gives us 8 tips for family worship on the Gospel Coalition blog.
- David Prince writes “Family Worship” for the Raising Godly Children blog, presenting a biblical argument for taking time to disciple our own children.
- “Why Does Family Worship Matter to God?” by Heritage Book Talk (also on the Raising Godly Children blog) covers some of the reasons to practice family worship, and gives books suggestions on the topic.
What does your family do to seek the Lord together?
~ Danika Cooley
Danika Cooley is a freelance children’s writer with a love for God’s Word, history, wisdom and small people. Her work has appeared in magazines including Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse and Clubhouse Jr.; Upper Room Ministries’ Pockets and Devozine; CBH Ministries’ Keys for Kids, and Cobblestone Group’s FACES and Odyssey. Her work also appears in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters.