At its most basic level, scripture commends three primary elements for the worship of God. These three are songs of worship, Bible study, and prayer. These things are the basic components of all cooperate worship and they are, even in their simplest forms, all that the Christian family needs to establish the worship of God in the home.
We encourage all of our families to join together in at least one of these elements every day and beyond that to set aside regular times in each week for intentional times of worship together.
The last thing that you want is for family worship to be tedious. As parents, we must be sensitive to our children’s attention spans. As a general rule, shorter is better. Learn to read your children and don’t get quantity of time mixed up with quality of time. Ten to twenty minutes in one sitting is plenty of time for family worship.
So often in life, less is indeed more and family worship is often no exception to this. If you attempt to over complicate and put unrealistic and unsustainable requirements upon yourself as a parent, chances are that you will not stay with it. You need not feel that you have to provide gimmicks or lessons plans. Your time and devoted attention to your children during family worship probably means much more to them than you may ever grasp. This is especially true of fathers who work outside the home most of the day. As you develop a regular pattern of worshiping God together, the substance of your own walk with Christ will naturally flow through to your children and that is the essence of disciple making.
You may not have thought of this before, but the ability to form habits is a wonderful gift from God. Habits allow us to do things effortlessly that would otherwise be difficult, complex and/or incredibly time-consuming. Think of how much time one would spend just writing a paragraph by hand if he or she had not habituated the practice of writing letters and words. The same holds true for family worship. When family worship is practiced regularly, it quickly moves from being an odd-feeling discipline to a familiar time of sweet fellowship together. The home where God is openly treasured together is a refuge for children and a joy for parents.
Life can be unpredictable and every family will have to be flexible in its times of family worship at some time or another. This is normal, but be careful to not let flexibility become apathy toward worshiping God in your home. Move your family worship time as needed, but strive to keep it as a regular part of your family’s life. Even if for a time you can only have family worship once a week, this is still 52 more times a year than you would have done otherwise. Remember the great commission in your parenting. We are to be about the business of making “disciples” of Jesus, not “church-goers.” Disciple-making doesn’t happen quickly, but rather with regular living out of the Gospel to needy souls and before watchful eyes.
For families with children who are of reading age, the possibilities here are vast. One starting point may be simply taking home a church bulletin each week and singing the songs printed there. Another easy starting place is either to buy a few hymnals from a Christian bookstore or to check with the church’s worship ministry about free hymnals that may be available there. Beyond these there are several good websites that provide freely available lyrics to Christian hymns and songs. Take a look and you may be surprised at all that you can find.For younger children, even the most simple songs that teach about God will do. Most children love to sing and will quickly follow the lead of an enthusiastic parent with or without any instruments to play along. Again, sometimes less is more.
- Bible Study
For younger children, a picture Bible is great tool. Simply read one story a day to the children. If you find yourself at a loss for application, the question “What does this story teach us about God” is always a great place to start.For older children and couples, you can easily work through books of the Bible, taking as few or as many verses at a time as you like. A key point to remember here is that it really is enough to read the word as a father, husband or parent without having put in preparation beforehand. God will be faithful to speak through His written word and every word is inspired. If questions arise during your reading on any given day, don’t feel troubled or intimated, but rather just simply resolve to check with a pastor or good commentary later. There is no shame in telling your children or spouse that you’ll need to get back with them on a question. It will be an opportunity for your own growth and a positive example of humility to your family.Commit to reading God’s word and discussing it in your family regularly. God will bless the presence of His word in your home.
Children learn by doing and prayer is no exception. A simple starting place here might be to have each child offer a thanksgiving to God for one blessing of the day before having one of the parents pray in closing. A good idea for parents is to always try to include something from the Bible discussion in a prayer so that children begin to understand the direct connection between the Bible and praying to the God who wrote it. As children grow up being nourished by the grace of the hearing the prayers of their parents, their conversation with God should grow into one of the sweet delights of their souls.
Family Worship Guides
This year, our pastors have challenged the church to begin praying through scripture. We are starting this great practice by learning to pray through the Psalms. As help for our families, we are publishing a family worship guide for each week of the year featuring a Psalm that church family is praying through, a hymn of the week and three focus question from our children’s catechism. You can join us and get started with both praying through the psalms and with family worship by downloading this week’s family worship guide here.
Your family can also join us each week as we walk through the Bible in our homes using our comprehensive 2008 Family Worship Guide.