There is a small book by Donald Whitney entitled Family Worship that I highly recommend for everyone. It’s only 67 pages long, so it’s a short read, but it’s vital to the future of the Church. In it, Whitney lays out the history and elements of family worship. It’s an incredible resource.
After 10 years in ministry, I am convinced that exponential growth in the spiritual lives of children happens when they are in families who regularly pray together, read the Bible together, memorize Scripture together, attend worship services together, and serve others together. The kids who are most attentive during Ridge Kids are the ones who come regularly and who are in families that hold each other accountable and have family Bible studies.
Isn’t what we want is for children to become followers of Jesus who grow in their knowledge and love for the Lord? And wouldn’t we want to do everything we can as Christ-followers to facilitate the spiritual growth of others, especially our children?
The answer is YES! I know it is. I have never talked with a parent or guardian who said they don’t care whether their child follows Jesus or not. But when I tell them the best way to help kids know and love the Lord is to have times during the week when you read the Bible and pray as a family, they look at me like “That’s impossible!” or “That’ll take a lot of work” or “I don’t know how to start something like that.” So let’s start with answering this: Why should I have family worship times?
The most important reason to worship the Lord as a family during the week is the Bible says so. According to Deuteronomy 6, believers are to lead their children to know the Lord: “These words (God’s Words) that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.” The implication of this passage is that learning and applying God’s Word is a daily occurrence which affects all areas of life. Before you can teach them to your children, they must first “be in your heart.” You cannot spiritually lead your children if you are not personally growing in Christ. Your spiritual growth affects the growth of your children, and the spiritual health of your family affects the spiritual health of your church. We’re in this together.
Ephesians 6 also speaks to family worship times: “Fathers, don’t stir up anger in your children, but bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” Fathers have a special responsibility to spiritually lead their families. A father who professes to be a Christ-follower and yet does not lead his family in knowing and loving the Lord is in direct violation of this New Testament teaching. This is more than bringing the family to church, but it’s not less (bring your family to church). Training here means discipline, instruction, and personal guidance. Dads, I hope you feel a pull of conviction to lead your families in Bible study, but don’t be overwhelmed. The church also has a great responsibility to partner with you and to equip you to do what God has called you to do as a father for your family.
It helps prevent a segmented life.
Worship should be a lifestyle which flows into every area of daily life both individually and in community with family and friends. You can’t “workout your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil 2:12) if you’re only living it on Sundays. When worship is limited to certain days of the week, kids are taught that Jesus-stuff is for church-days. You might be thinking, “well no, my relationship with Jesus affects my thoughts and actions,” but if your kids don’t know or see that, then they are unaware about how your faith in the Lord changes your daily life. Talk to your children regularly about how the Lord is changing and leading you. Talk about what you’re praying for and how God is answering. Talk about what you’re reading in the Bible and how that is changing your daily life. Show them that being a Christ-follower is more than attending worship services or not doing anything “bad.” It’s about a life lived in light of the gospel of Jesus. His life, death, and resurrection shapes our thoughts, actions, relationships, and work ethic. Teach this to your children so that they do not put their faith into a JESUS BOX that’s only opened on Sundays.
It shows kids what real, solid faith looks like.
Kids find out through the priorities, reactions, and language of their parents what their parents truly believe about God, His Word, and His church. When parents give time to both personal and family Bible study and prayer, kids notice, and it changes the way they view faith in God. Kids begin to see that real trust in Jesus means giving Him your whole self every day. They will take seriously what they see their parents taking seriously. If kids see their parents going to church but not changing their daily lives to reflect what they proclaim at church, then they will view it as an unnecessary, optional activity that really doesn’t affect their lives.
Show your children that the things they are learning at church matter to you and to daily life. Read this blog on children in worship to help them participate in corporate worship services. Talk to them about the service that afternoon or during the week. Ask them questions about what they learned during children’s ministry Bible studies and events. Work on at home whatever they are working on at church. What you see as important, they will see as important. You are the greatest influencer of your children.
It establishes a legacy that lives on for generations.
Faith is passed from generation to generation. When kids have godly parents who train them up in the ways of the Lord, they are more likely to do the same when they become parents. Family ministry is a fairly new concept because over the last 70 years the church has wrongly taken ownership over the spiritual development of kids and teens, and many parents have willingly handed-over that responsibility thinking that the ministers of the church are better equipped for the task. Now, church leaders are seeing a large, spiritual disconnect between church and home which makes applying spiritual truth to daily living difficult. We must go back to practicing the spiritual disciplines at home with our families if we are to pass true and solid faith on to the generations to come.
Parents, your children have a far better chance of knowing, believing in, loving, and living for Jesus if they are taught why and how to do so by you. Children’s and Student ministries exist to partner with you (the primary spiritual leader) in helping you do this. If you continue in or begin family worship times, it will change how your children parent your grandchildren. They will look back on how you led your family in the ways of the Lord and do the same with theirs and then with their grandchildren and so on.
By discipling the children in your home, you have the ability to impact the Kingdom of God for years and years to come.
So, how do we do family worship times?
Read the Bible together. Discuss what it reveals to you about God’s character. The Bible has one meaning, so be sure not to ask “what does this passage mean to you.” Instead ask, “What does this passage teach us about God?” and “How does knowing this about God change our lives?”
Pray together. Ask God specific things and expect an answer. Talk about what is going on in each others’ lives and friends’ lives and how you can pray for one another. Pray for your church, unbelievers, and missionaries.
Memorize Scripture together. Use resources given by your Children’s or Student ministries to engage your family at home in what they are doing at church. Ridge Kids is memorizing John 1:1-18 from the CSB translation. Do it with your family or pick another great passage.
Sing praises. Use videos or audio tracks to sing to the Lord together wherever you are.
Ask for and utilize family worship resources. I love to equip parents who come to me wanting resources to lead their families. The New City Catechism is great. It comes with an app and with songs. Cornerstones is another great catechism. The Ology is great for young kids. There’s a whole bunch of great stuff out there. If you’re looking but don’t know what’s solid and what’s not, contact me anytime.
Family worship times in the home are vital to the spiritual growth of children. It’s hard and you’re not going to do it perfectly, but it’s worth it. It doesn’t have to be super organized. The main thing is that you are growing spiritually and helping your kids grow as well so that they see that your faith is important and life-changing.