One topic I try to bring up in conversation is family worship. Of course, there is a time and a place for this conversation. But, I have found that many parents are not well-informed on this topic. The topic itself, “family worship,” sounds a bit archaic. But don’t let the words deter you, I have personally found this a very beneficial practice.
I will not go into the Biblical and historical reasons for family worship here. They are covered much better in a book like Don Whitney’s “Family Worship,” but I do hope to calm any reservations by sharing why we love it and what we do as a family with young kids.
Our Favorite Time of the Day.
As many of you know, children love routine. This is something that can be lost on adults as we drive to the same place every day, sitting at the same desk, doing similar routines, we can find repetition and routine equal to monotony. Our kids, however, love the expected. Ever since our twins were born (actually, I wish I would have started when my wife, Ashley, and I got married), my wife and I have set aside time in the evening for family worship.
Mostly at first, this was for ourselves, to get into a rhythm of doing it. Our kids didn’t understand what was happening as newborns, but as they got older, they simply recognized it as something that we just do. It quickly became my favorite time of the night. A time when I can teach my kids about Jesus regularly. I can hear them start to memorize things, and we can pray together as a family. It brings unspeakable joy. In fact, as a youth pastor, I often say that if there was a choice between having me on staff and having parents do daily worship, the more significant benefit by far is regular family worship. Not. Even. Close.
More Chaos Than Order.
A concern that comes up whenever I talk about family worship is, “there is no way I could get my kids to sit still and do something like that.” Speaking as one who has three kids under the age of three, I couldn’t agree more! When you think of family worship, don’t picture your kids staring up to you, their hands on their laps thinking, “I am the luckiest kid in the world, teach me more daddy.” If this is you, you’re in the minority.
Most of us have squirmy kids, fighting kids, and play witness to tantrums during family worship. In our own family, just to give one example, there was a time that my daughter was throwing a fit and then requested a song. Through anger in my voice, I shouted, “no, you don’t get to pick the song tonight. WE ARE SINGING JESUS LOVES ME, WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!” Ashley looked at me and smirked at the irony of what was happening, it remains a great example of how crazy and beneficial family worship can be for children and parents alike.
Bottom line there will be challenges, and that’s OK! Remain faithful, be consistent, think long-term. There is a difference between the immediate and the eternal. Many of us can look back and think about those who were faithful in teaching us when we were anything but lovable. Their consistency remains with us just as much, if not more, than any individual lesson they taught us.
Read, Sing, Questions, Prayer
So how does this actually work? This might look different for you, but what we have found helpful is simply to read, sing, ask questions, and pray. Let me outline each of these.
Read: Because our kids are young, we currently read through sections of one of three storybook Bibles. (Jesus Storybook Bible, The Biggest Story, and The Big Picture Story Bible) This usually takes no longer than five minutes. Often we don’t get through the bigger sections in something like the Jesus Story Book Bible and have to break them in half.
Sing: Next, we pick one or two songs and sing them a capella as a family. Often it is the same songs every night for weeks. We think to ourselves “again” but they love it! It has been their favorite part since the beginning, although the others are now closing in.
Questions: We are working through the Children’s Catechism (1840) with our kids. After we sing, we often ask, “what’s next?” and they say enthusiastically, “Questions!”. Catechisms are an excellent way for kids to learn much about the Bible quickly. An objection might be made that they won’t understand it all. We know that. But we are looking long-term. We want to take advantage of their little minds that soak everything up and feed them with good content they can draw upon for years to come. Our twins turn three in August, and they have the first six questions pretty much down and get excited every time they get them all.
Prayer: We finish with a short prayer. A regular practice is to pray for a different family in our church directory every Tuesday. We show the kids the picture of the family or individual and then pray for them. This has been a practical way to pray to teach our kids the importance of the church family.
What About You?
So there it is. It’s not rocket science. In fact, it is pretty simple and from start to finish and only takes us about 10-15 minutes. Give it a try with your family and stay consistent, it might just become your favorite part of the day.