At the last couple of parent meetings we have had in the Student Ministries, we have talked about the importance of family worship. In the sermon I preached at the end of 2019, I used Joshua 24 as a challenge for us to lead our families well, particularly in teaching them to honor and worship God. An all-too common problem that the church today is suffering from is children transitioning into adulthood with little, to no foundation on how to be a godly adult. Part of the reason for this is that parents have allowed their role as primary spiritual provider to be usurped by the culture, the educational system, and even the church. We have gotten the order backwards, thinking that it is the church that is meant to guide the family, when, if we look at scripture and church history, it should be the other way around. Joel Beeke writes in his book, Family Worship, “As goes the home, so goes the church, so goes the nation.” If we want to see our children serving in the church and ultimately being godly examples in every walk of life, parents must take back their role to serve their families and lead them to worship God. This goes beyond just making sure our children go to church, or to AWANA, or to youth group. It is the parent’s responsibility to first teach them how to read their bibles, how to pray, how to sing praises to God. Children learn these, first, in the home, then practice them corporately with the church.
Whenever the topic of family worship does come up, one of the more frequent objections is, “I don’t know how to lead my family in worship. I’m not a bible teacher/pastor/elder, etc.” What I hope to accomplish in this article is to demonstrate how easy it is to implement family worship in our homes. These tips come from the aforementioned book by Joel Beeke, Family Worship.
The first thing we should do to begin family worship in our homes is to prepare for family worship. This begins by praying over the idea. Ask God for help in your endeavor and desire to lead your family in this practice. We then prepare by asking ourselves three basic questions, what, where, and when. What will you be using to teach? Obviously, the foundation is God’s Word, but this can look differently based on the ages involved. There are theologically rich children’s bibles or devotionals that can be used for young children. You can also encourage verse memorization, varying the degree of difficulty based on age. I would recommend relying heavily on the reading of scripture and discussing it with teens and older children, helping them see the value of simply reading the bible. Next, pick a location. It might be around the dinner table. Maybe it’s in the living room. Pick a place that will be free of distractions (that will probably mean putting those phones on silent). Finally, choose a time that works best for your family. Of course, it may mean that you must learn to orient your schedule around your family worship instead of the other way around. We must teach our children that our time in worship is more important than the other demands on our time. Choose a time and a frequency. It doesn’t have to be every day, but I would recommend at least once a week. Our children need to learn that this should be a habit.
Once we have prepared for family worship, we then need to decide what will happen during family worship. Beeke writes that we should aim for the following in our family worship: brevity, consistency, hopeful solemnity. Brevity doesn’t mean that we seek to rush through it. Short and simple can still yield tender and heavenly results. You can defeat the purpose of family worship if you spend most of your time wrestling with your children to sit still and listen. Consistency means leading your family in worship, even if you’re exhausted from a hard day’s work. We shouldn’t indulge excuses to avoid family worship. “Remember that Christ Jesus went to the cross for you bone-weary and exhausted but never shrunk from His mission. As you deny yourself, you will see how He strengthens you during family worship.” And we should expect great things from a great God. Psalm 2 tells us to, “serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.” Our children need to see how we speak to and about God. They need to catch a sense of hope and awe, fear and faith, repentance and confidence.
And then finally, we need to remember what happens after family worship. Just as we began with prayer, we end with prayer. I don’t mean that we close our time as a family in prayer. That should definitely happen, but I’m talking about as parents, before we retire for the evening, spend time as a couple or as an individual and pray that God would use that time in worship to strengthen each member of your family. Trust that God will do what He will do and that our children and our families would desire to follow Him in all that they do.
If you would like to know more about how to conduct family worship, you can pick up a copy of Joel Beeke’s book from my office. They are free to anyone seeking to lead their family to grow closer to the Lord.
Soli deo gloria,