A Guide For Family Worship In The Home
Dear Church Family,
These notes are from a talk I gave on family worship at our Men’s Breakfast a few weeks ago, so some of you have heard/seen this. My wife helped me put them in blog post form. I am no expert on this subject, and it’s fairly new to me, but it has been life-changing for my family. As a church, we have come to find ourselves with much more time on our hands in the midst of a pandemic, so what better time to invest in a regular practice of family worship? With sports and school cancelled and many folks working from home, now is the perfect opportunity to start worshiping God in our homes daily. I will tell you the story of how God in His grace led our family here and then provide some helpful resources and tips to get started.
Three years ago, we made the decision to homeschool our kids for various reasons (homeschooling is not a requirement for this – it’s just our personal story). One of the benefits was that we would have more time to teach a biblical worldview to the kids. Out of that, our family started to slowly change, as worship and learning about God became something that would be part of the kids’ education. Reading the Bible would now be an aspect of their schooling, which gave us time outside of school to do some other things such as memorizing hymns and learning catechism questions/answers (resource below).
We would hear about things from friends or homeschool resources about how to practically raise our children with an understanding of God though the Bible, and then we would sort of sporadically incorporate random (good!) things here and there without much structure. Still, this was a blessing and a vast improvement from struggling to fit any time in with the Lord as a family. Eventually, God would lead me to a sermon by Joel Beeke on family worship (link below) that helped narrow our focus and establish family worship as a regular, structured routine in our household. To say it has been life-changing for all of us would be an understatement.
In our culture, we are so busy with sports and extracurricular activities that we tend to add church to the list of ‘all the other things’. That was me! The prevailing thought in Bible Belt culture seems to be, “Maybe we can get our weekly ‘dose of God’ from church,” and then we can go on with our lives and the rest of our week, rarely acknowledging Him. We may feel that because the church has good children’s programs and youth leaders, we don’t really have to do much outside of getting them there because, after all, we don’t have time.
This begs the question, do we even really love Christ? Again – this is the boat I found myself in as a young dad and husband who had made a lot of mistakes as a spiritual leader. But, as Christians, teaching our children the Bible, as well as spiritually leading and loving our wives, is not an option but a command. I should add here that the principle of coming to God in worship daily is not just for conventional families, but for the single mom and her children, the couple without children, and for folks who are single. The following scriptures are just a few that detail how worship is to be the center of our lives, not just one of the extracurriculars that we do on Sunday.
Worshiping God in the home, within our families, is biblical as well as counter-cultural:
- Joshua 24:15 – “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
- Deuteronomy 6:4-9 – “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
- Job 1:5 – “And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, ‘It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts.’ Thus Job did continually.”
- Ephesians 5:25-28 – “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that He might present the church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.”
- Psalm 119:9 – “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.”
- Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”
Knowing that it is important to God that we worship Him daily and lead our families in doing so – please also know that you do not need to be a Bible scholar to lead your family in regular, fruitful Family Worship. There are just THREE basics: READ, PRAY, and SING.
- You do not need a well-thought out sermonette to present to your family. Simply pick a passage to read.
- A daily Bible-reading plan is helpful because it removes the guesswork (to listen to the whole Bible in a year takes only about 11-15 minutes per day!)
- Simply move through a book of the Bible
- After reading, or listening (we use the Dwell Bible Reading app and listen to the Bible ), let everyone feel free to comment on thoughts or ask questions. If you don’t know the answers, be transparent and let the kids know that you will look into it or ask the pastor.
- Ask questions to open discussion about the reading (we use the Family Worship Bible Guide).
- After reading, take time to pray in whatever way you choose.
- Consider rotating who prays each night.
- Ask members of the family what they need prayer for.
- Try to tie your prayer into what the Bible reading was about.
- Use a resource such as Matthew Henry’s “A Way to Pray” if praying is a struggle at first.
- Let this also be a time for confession, and start with yourself to set an example for the kids.
- Often, the scripture reading brings about conviction, and this is a great time to practice confession and forgiveness within the family.
- Okay, so this one can make us a little squirmy in our culture if you are not musically inclined, BUT, singing as a family is a way we ought to be worshiping together in our homes.
- If someone plays an instrument, great, let them play.
- Take advantage of YouTube and sing songs together.
- Consider learning a new hymn each month (our family likes the resource Happy Hymnody on YouTube and there are printables for each hymn online that we keep in a folder).
- Highly encourage every member to sing…Joel Beeke says he tells his boys in particular, “You don’t sing, you don’t eat.”
- We close out each family worship time with the Doxology since it is short and a nice way to end.
Other Practical Tips:
- Work to make this a habit that is rarely missed. Have the motto “never miss twice.”
- When life happens and family is apart for some reason, consider having each person read the daily reading on their own, so that in a way your family worship is sustaining in the times when you are apart.
- Keep it simple – just Read, Pray, Sing…it does not have to be lengthy.
- Let it be an enjoyable time – laugh, be nurturing, share childhood stories or past experiences when they relate…this will quickly turn into a time that everyone looks forward to.
- Be intentional with timing – every family and home is unique, so this may be different for everyone.
- Don’t let timing be an issue. Set aside a time that is consistently good for the whole family, but if you are busy with practices/games/extracurriculars, assess each day or week and determine which days you might need to move it up or back and let the family know.
- No phone calls or texts allowed at Family Worship time…for anyone.
- Include little kids as much as possible. If need be, have “Family Worship Lite” with the whole family if you have toddlers, and then sit down for any longer bible reading with your older kids. This is what our family does since our kids are 12, 10, 2, and 10 months.
- Catechism, Bible verse memorization, etc. are parts you can add to Read, Pray, Sing if you choose to and have the time.
If you have never led your family in worship, there is no time like the present. This is probably new for many if not most of us…let’s learn from one another and start new practices in our homes that draw us closer to God.
Family Worship will set your family apart from the rest of culture today. We are called out as sojourners in this land…may we all come together as families in the church to be worshipers in our homes as well.
Helpful Resources (click on links below):
A very helpful sermon: Leading Family Worship – Joel Beeke at Desiring God Pastor’s Conference 2011
Family Worship Bible Guide – by Joel Beeke and Michael Barrett (asks questions for every single chapter of the Bible). We use this every day to guide our discussion.
Dwell – Bible reading app; there is a free version, but the paid version allows you to pick from any Bible reading plan you can think of and listen to it, if that’s your preferred method of reading. Check out the church’s newsletter for information on how you can get the Dwell app for free through the church for 60 days.
Happy Hymnody – on Youtube and at http://happyhymnody.wordpress.com; printable hymns and a hymn to memorize each month
A Way to Pray – prayer book for occasions by Matthew Henry
New City Catechism – by the Gospel Coalition and Redeemer Presbyterian Church; there is an app as well as a book. The app plays the Questions and Answers as songs, which is very helpful for memorizing.
Old Story New and
Long Story Short – both of these are excellent books, by Marty Machowski, for going through the Bible as a family, especially if there are some younger kids. The first goes through the Old Testament and the second through the New Testament.
Pray the Word Podcast– by David Platt – a five min or so reading of a verse and then praying according to that scripture
There are many resources, but these are some that we either have used or use currently and highly recommend.
Mark (Don Mark, to those of you who have known him since he was young) and his wife, Heather, have 4 kids between the ages of 1 and 12 and have been married for 14 years. He owns a construction company and has a desire to proclaim the good news of Christ to the people he works with and for. Mark is passionate about global and local mission efforts and serves as the head of the Missions Committee at FBC Canyon. His favorite things to do are being outdoors doing just about anything with his kids, going on walks with his wife, snow-skiing when he can find time, and raising cows.