Wednesday, April 1, 2015
Honestly, family worship has intimidated me since my wife and I first had children. Sure I have seminary training. Sure I love to talk about theology. But how do I transfer all of that to family worship?
Family worship was nearly non-existent for the first two years of my marriage. But then I realized something. My trepidation revealed a misgiving in my own heart. I confessed with my mouth that the gospel had changed my life. I confessed that it had the power to change others’ lives. But in my shepherding responsibilities as a husband and father I acted like it wasn’t enough. My family needed something more than the ordinary means of grace.
So here are my practical tips for family worship.
I recommend having a flexible routine that your kids can count on. For instance, we struggled to find a time that worked for my family for a long time. Years back I realized when we eat dinner, I’m frequently done five minutes or more before my family (I’ve always been a fast eater). For a time this worked great. I would eat my food, and it was a natural time for our family to talk, share, and pray.
My schedule has since changed and now the morning works better. Figure out what works best for you. Adapt when necessary. Don’t let the rhythm become an unbreakable rule and don’t miss the spare time (Deut. 6:1-4).
Here’s the good news. You have your kids for many years. So if you miss a day or even a week it’s not the end of the world. We have flexible schedule, but if something happens we don’t sweat it and plan to pick up family worship as soon as we can. Also, these busy days or weeks are a great time to take advantage of those minutes in the car or elsewhere that can be redeemed. They key is to return to family worship eventually.
Don’t neglect reading the scriptures. It doesn’t need to be an entire chapter. It can be just a couple verses. You could also use a good audio bible like Max Mclean’s The Listener’s Bible. Or you could have fun with it and act out a story from the Old Testament. Just don’t neglect the word.
When you read scripture, ask your family questions relevant to them and always point them back to Jesus. The younger your kids are the more basic these questions will be. Don’t get fancy. Simple questions to drive their hearts toward Jesus and to get them thinking.
For years I was really discouraged because I don’t sing well and I don’t play instruments. Neither does my wife. I guess we could’ve taught my kids songs without music, but it just didn’t seem the same.
However, with the explosion of smart smartphones and streaming music services we’ve found a great way to incorporate music into our family worship. We use Spotify to access our favorite songs, and we belt it out. I’ve kept my old Together for the Gospel hymnal/booklets and use those as a road map, but you could just as easily repeat the songs you sang in church on Sunday or purchase a hymnal.
Catechism are old school. Don’t hate the tried and true. They are a great way to teach your kids systematically through the big truths of the Bible. My personal favorite is Heidelberg Catechism.
Your favorite catechisms have probably been set to music too. Google catechism and music and you’re likely to find an amazing help. For the Westminster Shorter Catechism check out The Westminster Shorter Catechism Songs: The Complete CD Set.
Also, Starr Meade has developed a devotional based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism Training Hearts, Teaching Minds which is top notch and the Heidelburg Catechism. Of course, there are also the Baptist catechisms and the new New City.
In addition to reading scripture, there are also some story book bibles which will really help familiarize yourself with the big picture of scripture. Jesus Story Book Bible, The Gospel Story Bible, and The Big Picture Story Bible.
Not a story book bible, but also helpful is Bruce Ware’s Big Truths for Young Hearts which covers ten truths from scripture for kids.
Start with the Lord’s Prayer. It’s short and theologically rich. You can start reciting this together and soon your family will know it by heart. And if you need help praying from there check out The Valley of Vision. It will draw your focus to God.
But also pray for your kids in front of them. Here’s an example of what I pray,“Dear Lord, thank you so much for Claire, Maddy, and Adele. You’ve blessed us with these children and they have truly been a gift. Father, we know you love to show yourself faithful in families and you have promised to keep your covenant to a thousand generations. I plead with you, Father, that you would work in their hearts. Help them understand their need for Jesus. Cleanse their heart and draw them to yourself so that your faithfulness would be praised and your name would be made great. Do it for your glory, Lord. Amen.”
Pray for your spouse. Have your children pray for the family and your marriage. If you have a sick friend, pray for them. Pray for their pastors, teachers, Sunday school teachers.
Don’t stress over this. Small portions. Little bit at a time. Get in a rhythm. Do it as a family and talk about what the truth in that verse is. One way to make it fun is to use Seeds Worship, which puts Scripture to music. Also, if you need a plan, Desiring God offers its Fighter Verses, which you can also download as an app for most smartphones.
Don’t be so up tight. Don’t be the family worship Nazi. You know who I’m talking about. Teach your kids to reverence the Lord. Teach them to honor God. Teach them he is holy. But don’t make him out to be the Grinch who stole Christmas. Have fun. Laugh. Be joyful.
Don’t lose heart parents. The gospel is powerful and saves. No additives needed. Just apply consistently in ordinary ways.
Mathew is the Journal Production Manager at CBMW and also is a staff writer. He’s married to LeAnn and they have three daughters. Mathew regularly blogs at Grace for Sinners. Follow Mathew on Twitter @GraceForSinners
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