Worship

Tips for Engaging Family Worship

What are some things you can do to get and keep your family engaged?

Build on Your Corporate Worship
Use the worship of your local church as a way to connect family worship to your weekly corporate worship. The weekly sermon passage can make a great starting point for Bible reading. You can either prepare for the upcoming Sunday or read and remember the text from last Sunday. Family worship is a great time to teach your family to sing, to sit still (start small!), and pray together.

Keep It Brief
Gyms are full on January 1 each year. By February 1? Not so much. Don’t make the mistake of trying to get too big or too serious. Take just a few minutes to read and pray together. Five minutes five days a week is 1300 minutes at the end of a year. 10 minutes? Double the fun. You get the idea—don’t make it long and laborious. Conscientious people may unwittingly teach their children to dread something that doesn’t have to be dreadful. If your kids are young, keep in mind that they have a short attention span. If they’re older, work to make family worship a refreshing time, not an overwhelming burden that sits like a brick in their stomachs when they hear it’s time to get together.

Mix It Up
Work hard to find things to keep family worship interesting. Mix things up from time to time. Get creative. Have your kids act out a Bible story—or have mom and dad act it out! Draw something to illustrate what you’re reading. Ask questions, and seek to be as interactive as possible. Talk about life, and then connect life to what you’re reading, singing, and praying about.

Know Your Family
Every family is different, and every kid in every family is different. For that matter, each child is different at different stages of life. Ask God for wisdom, don’t make it too much of a burden, and throw yourself into it! It helps to find a time when you’re already together (family meals, the beginning of the day, or the end of the day). “Baby steps” is the name of the game. The fruit is worth it in the end.

Trust the Lord
No matter how much time and intentionality you give to leading your family, you’ll find that you fail … a lot. In those moments, let these words encourage you to trust that God’s grace is big enough for your failures: “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Then get back up and give it another shot!

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The Content of Family Worship

What kinds of things should you do to lead your family in worship at home? Hopefully, you attend a good church that models what Christ-centered worship looks like. In many ways, worship at home simply builds off of what your church does and works it out in a way that works for your family at home.

Bible
Read the Bible—one person (or more) reading aloud. When you read Scripture together, it gets God’s words into your ears and hearts. When you build worship around the Word, it ensures that God’s wisdom, not merely some good ideas that you (or others) might have, is guiding you. This can also be a good time to memorize Scripture together, talk about the Word, and see it seep down into the hearts of your family.

Prayer
Take some time to pray together. Perhaps you could pray for particular things on particular days of the week. For example, you could pray for extended family on Mondays, church family on Tuesday, friends on Wednesdays, etc. There may be some requests or people that you pray for every day. Have your kids take turns praying too. This is a great time to teach them to thank God, praise God, and confess sin to God. As you pray, you can model how to pray and then give your kids a chance to pray in a comfortable setting. This will help them in their personal prayer life and also aid them as they have opportunities to pray with and for others.

Songs
Singing together can be the most engaging (and fun!) part of family worship. Use this as an opportunity to teach your children to sing and to sing good hymns and songs. As a teacher used to tell me, “Things learned in song are remembered long.” This is a great way to prepare your kids to worship in church too, as they can learn “church songs” even before they can read. Let kids choose a favorite song to have the family sing, and it will give you a chance to learn which hymns really connect with them and also a good opportunity to sing children’s songs—which can have great truth for adults too.

Books
There are a number of good devotional books designed for family use. Some are children’s story Bibles for young children, while others are for older children. We’ve used various family devotional books from time to time, although we also like to use the Bible itself. If you have multiple kids, try to find something that engages children of different ages. It’s ok to mix it up, to roll with what works well at one stage, and then move on to something that works well for a different stage of life.

Benefits of Family Worship

Though it can be difficult to make family worship happen, it’s worth the effort. Consider the following benefits of taking a few minutes to worship together in your home.

Discipleship
One of the greatest benefits of family worship is discipleship that happens in the home. “Discipleship” is simply helping someone take one step closer to Jesus. When parents take the time to read the Bible and pray with each other and with their kids, they’re modeling (in a small way) what it looks like to help someone follow Jesus. Not only is this great for your family, it’s also a helpful model for understanding how to disciple someone that’s not in your family!

Family unity
With life today being scheduled so full and often being chaotic, it’s good to have a time when the family sits down and spends time together face-to-face—no phones, no TV, no screens at all. While it may feel awkward at first, this time and effort will lead to a greater sense of togetherness, as you learn to enjoy spending time together in the Word—and it may spill over into other areas of life as well.

Memories
One day, you’ll be left with memories of today. Time spent in family worship is one of the most valuable memories to enjoy and pass on to your children. Beyond the good feelings of having good memories, these times together will form a foundation for your children to appreciate the value of the Word and prayer in their own lives and in the lives of their future relationships.

Worship as the center of life
Discipleship is all about calling people from every corner of the globe to worship Jesus. Worshiping the Triune God is the point of our existence, and discipleship is all about calling each other to engage in true worship. By making family worship a central part of life in your home, you’re living out the ultimate point of our existence:

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying,

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

(Revelation 5:13)

What the Bible Says about Family Worship

While it might seem like a given that families should pursue Christ together at home, it’s also easy to dismiss an idea like this as too burdensome. But not only is family worship at home a good idea, it’s commanded and modeled in Scripture.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
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. 

It doesn’t get a whole lot clearer than this, does it? Teach your children at home, when you’re out, when it’s bedtime, and when it’s time to get up.

Psalm 78
Tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

This psalm highlights the importance of family worship by telling us again that it’s commanded for parents to teach children, and it’s through parents teaching children that the next generation learns about God’s greatness.

2 Timothy 1:5
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Paul tells us about the important role that Timothy’s mom and grandmother played in leading him to Christ. The faithfulness of parents and grandparents plays a vital role in passing on the faith to succeeding generations.

Conclusion
These are just three texts of many in Scripture that highlight the importance of passing on our faith to others. In these instances, the ones receiving the benefits are children in the home of believing parents. If you don’t have kids, you could pass along your faith to someone else—your spouse or some friends:  What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also (2 Timothy 2:2).

Tips on Prayer

Do you ever pray, other than before a meal or a quick breathed prayer before or a big test or job interview? Prayer is one of the simplest, yet most difficult, Christian practices. Here are some thoughts that may help in establishing the discipline of regularly talking to God in prayer:

1. Pray.
Don’t overcomplicate it. Don’t wait until you’ve got the perfect system. Get into the habit of talking with God, rather than just talking with yourself about what’s going on. Set aside time in your schedule to help make this happen.

2. Find places you can go and things you can do to help you pray.
It might be taking a walk or riding your bike. Perhaps it’s getting alone in a quiet place. It might be riding in the car, leaving off the music and podcasts, and talking to God.

3. Use written guides in prayer.
Start a prayer list or prayer journal. “PrayerMate” is an app that can be quite helpful.  Create categories for prayer on different days of the week. Pray for extended family one day; pray for friends another day; pray through your church membership another day. Find something that helps you pray.

4. Use Scripture.
The Bible is full of prayers. Take a walk sometime and pray a psalm back to God. Study the prayers in the Old and New Testaments, and let those guide your prayer time.

Prayer can be hard, but the fruit is worth the effort: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working!” (James 5:16).

Worship Style & the Sufficiency of Scripture

John Frame’s excellent The Doctrine of the Word of God on the relationship between different styles and traditions in worship and the sufficiency of the Bible:

“Many traditions have also developed concerning worship and other aspects of church life. These concern the style and instrumentation of worship songs, the order of events in worship, degree of formality or informality, and so on. Many of these are not commanded by Scripture, but many are in accord with broad biblical principles. The problem is that church people will sometimes defend their particular practice as mandatory on all Christians, and they will criticize as spiritually inferior churches that use different styles and patterns. Often the criteria used are not scriptural, but aesthetic. People argue that this style of music is more dignified, that that liturgy is more ancient, and so forth. These aesthetic and historical criteria are often used in place of Scripture, leading to the condemnations of practices that Scripture permits and commanding of practices that Scripture does not command. That … in my judgment, violates the principles of sola Scriptura, the sufficiency of Scripture.” (p. 238)

How God Answers Prayer

In his excellent book, A Call to Spiritual Reformation, D. A. Carson suggests a helpful model for Christians to understand how and why God answers some prayers differently than others.

“Even a little reflective acquaintance with the God of the Bible acknowledges that he is not less than utterly sovereign, and not less than personal and responsive. Correspondingly, the Bible boasts many examples of praise and adoration, and no fewer examples of intercession. Indeed, 'Christian prayer is marked decisively by petition, because this form of prayer discloses the true state of affairs. It reminds the believer that God is the source of all good, and that human beings are utterly dependent and stand in need of everything.'

“Of the various models that usefully capture both of these poles, the model of a personal relationship with a father is as helpful as any. If a boy asks his father for several things, all within the father’s power to give, the father may give him one of them right away, delay giving him another, decline to give him a third, set up a condition for a fourth. The child is not assured of receiving something because he has used the right incantation: that would be magic. The father may decline to give something because he knows it is not in the child’s best interests. He may delay giving something else because he knows that so many requests from his young son are temporary and whimsical. He may also withhold something that he knows the child needs until the child asks for it in an appropriate way. But above all, the wise father is more interested in a relationship with his son than in merely giving him things. Giving him things constitutes part of that relationship but certainly not all of it. The father and son may enjoy simply going out for walks together. Often the son will talk with his father not to obtain something, or even to find out something, but simply because he likes to be with him.”