... For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him. (Genesis 18:19)
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 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. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
Family worship is not a commandment to believers, at least in the way that most people think. Rather, the importance of family and home life in the growth and discipleship of believers is spoken about throughout both the Old and New Testaments. We understand that family worship is foreign to most believers that have not been exposed to this practice, and are here to help.
Believers often hear about numerous good things that come from family worship among the families here at First Church, but here are a few:
- It brings Glory to God
- It produces joy in the home
- It helps to change the world, both short-term and long-term, through God's answer to prayer.
For new believers that have never been exposed to family worship in the home, beginning such a practice can be intimidating. We get that and are here to help. The leadership team, and in fact many of our members, can provide a number of resources to get you started. Most family worship guides involve instruction in a number of different areas, which are very similar to a Sunday morning worship service that folks are accustomed to. These areas include:
- Reading scriptures. Read a portion of the Word together, either chapter-by-chapter or by following a worship guide or devotional guide. Allow children to read and participate regularly, and help them with difficult words and concepts. After reading, discuss was was read. Try to include discussion about the historical context of the text, the importance of what was read, how it fits in the "big picture," and most importantly, how it fits in with the Gospel of Christ.
- Pray together. Make sure to mention the issues facing your family unit as a whole (finances, vehicles, work that needs to be done, neighbors, etc.), issues that face individual family members (issues in school, a sick family member, etc.), and don't forget to pray for extended family members (grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.) and friends. It is also important to pray for our leaders, our country, our armed forces, and especially for our missionaries. Name people by name as much as possible. All family members, even those that are just learning to talk, should become accustomed to talking with God. It is also very important to not just ask God to do things; one should also remember to thank him when he does and to just tell him you love him.
- Sing together. This can be more challenging for families that are not musically gifted or inclined, but you can still do this. Just used recorded music and play the songs you are familiar with. You can find good worship CDs and DVDs in most any Christian book store, but you can also find them in many department stores with a large music collection. Of course, you can also download quite a few from online sources for free. Just find a way to include music in some way in your worship time. If members of your family have favorite hymns or Christian songs, consider including them in your worship time, especially when first getting started. Still, there may be situations when music might be more difficult. That's okay. You can even find hymns you really like from most any hymnal (or online sources) and simply read the poetry together. Remember, God hears what is in your heart, as well as what comes out of your mouth.
- Memorize verses in the Bible. It is important that every member spends some time each week trying to remember Bible verses, especially the really useful and important ones that say a lot with only a few words. There are a number of guides online that can help you choose applicable verses, and the leadership team at First Church can assist you as well. Remember to choose verses that can be memorized by all members of your family, which means that you can't ask your pre-teen children to memorize entire chapters over the course of a week. When you find the verse you wish to focus on, whether suggested by a family member or chosen from a memorization guide, try to read the verse together during one one week, work on memorizing it individually during the week, and then recite it together from memory the next week.
Frequently asked questions about family worship:
- What if one of the parents is not a believer? The Bible refers to family discipleship in the context of an entire traditional family (father, mother, children) of believers, which means that the father assumes the leadership role. If this is not the case and one of the two parents is not a believer, then the other parent assumes the role. If the mother is leading the rest of the family in worship, she should do so in a loving and non-threatening manner.
- What if there is only one parent? Unfortunately, this occurs with increasing frequency in our culture, but it is not unheard of in scriptures. As in the case when one of the two parents is a non-believer, the responsibility for worship in the home falls to the believing parent. We know that this may be difficult, given the load that single parents have while trying to be both father and mother to children, but we're here to help. We encourage you to have a conversation with our leadership team to see how they can help you include worship in the home life of your family. Not to worry. Our God is a BIG God and knows your pain and struggles. He will bless your efforts. Trust him.
- What if the children in the home are very young (i.e. newborns and toddlers)? The Bible reminds us that learning comes in stages and not all at once. We begin as children, learning as children, and develop into more difficult concepts later. The stage of growth of all family members is not the same, nor should it be. We must always remember, that everyone is different, including parents. The parents should choose verses, prayers, language, music, etc., suitable to all members of the family. For example, during music time with small children, include easy to remember songs that the children can become accustomed to. Sing it to them. When they are old enough, ask them to sing it with you. When praying with very young children, ask them who or what they want to pray for (i.e. pray for Grandma, she's not feeling well), tell them what to say to God (i.e, "Say this to God... God, please bless Grandma so that she feels better."), then ask them to repeat it back in prayer. Help them to say the words until they get through it. They will very quickly learn how to talk to God. It will not take too long and they will learn how to listen to him also, which will let them learn to talk WITH God.
- How do I keep the attention of children when their ages vary widely? This doesn't take as much effort as you might think. It is as simple as including them in all aspects of the worship time, and including things throughout that are geared to their level. Ask them what they wish to include, then include it (if it is appropriate, of course). If they like certain music, include a few of those songs intermixed with songs that other members like. If they have certain things on their mind and heart, ask them to pray about it when prayer time comes. If they are struggling with certain concepts in the Bible, discuss relevant verses during worship time and perhaps include a verse or two in the memorization goals for the week.
- When is the best time for family worship? Whatever fits your schedule best. God is our God 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and very little would please him more than hanging around your house while you worship him. Our suggestion would be to choose a day and time that works best for your family, with the goal of consistency and focus. That is, choose a time that is not likely to be interfered with and when all family members can focus on the worship time. Early morning is difficult for those that must soon get ready for work or school, but afternoons may be difficult for those that work all day and come home exhausted. Remember, something is better than nothing, and a focused consistent something is even better yet. You may even find that you only have a short period of time each day for worship. That's okay. Simply break up the worship time activities and do a portion each day (read verses on Monday, prayer on Tuesday, music on Wednesday, etc.).