What elements should family worship include?
When we are faithful to God in bringing our family together to worship, we are fulfilling the very purpose for which He created us.
Family worship can be daunting. After all, many of us didn’t grow up in homes where family worship was practiced, so we do not really know what it looks like. Additionally, most of us aren’t pastors, so we do not have experience in leading worship. If family worship is like leading a daily mini-church service in our home, then this would be a challenge for anyone to lead!
So let me begin by reassuring you that family worship was never intended to be complex. It can be as simple as gathering together to read Scripture and pray before bed. What’s more, there are many resources out there to help you get started. But let me get the ball rolling by providing some ideas for you to use in practicing family worship.
Sing a song
Our God is worthy to be praised through song! Why not sing a song together? I like the idea of choosing songs that our children will be singing in church on the Lord’s Day, so you can get a copy of the hymnal that your church uses. Or you can bring home a church bulletin and search for the lyrics of the songs on the internet and print them out. A few years ago, my family moved to singing the psalms in family worship, so we bought a psalter that we use.
If you can’t play a musical instrument, don’t worry—my wife doesn’t play piano and I can’t play guitar! Your voices will glorify God, and this is what matters most. You can also play CDs with hymns or worship music to help you learn to sing new songs. Obviously, your goal isn’t to win a singing competition, it is to worship God as a family. And singing in the home will help build confidence when you sing with the church during corporate worship.
You may not be called as a preacher, but you can open God’s Word and read it to your family. You can simply choose a book of the Bible and begin reading a paragraph or a chapter each morning or each night. You can leave time to answer questions, and if you don’t always have the answers, then this gives you the opportunity to learn more about the Christian faith. Let me tell you, children can ask some tricky questions!
If you want to take the next step and give a brief devotional from Scripture, then there are many books and online materials to provide you with support. To provide just one recent example, Reformation Heritage Books recently released a Family Worship Bible Guide. You can also read out of a story Bible like David Helm’s The Big Picture Story Bible (for young children) or Catherine Vos’ The Child’s Story Bible (for older children).
You can add to this time in Scripture by choosing a memory verse to learn together. It can be chosen from the passage read, or you could use a verse memorization program. Whatever your approach, the family can encourage one another and hold each other accountable by memorizing verses together.
Ask catechism questions
One other way to help your family understand God’s Word is through using a catechism. Through this method of instruction, you ask questions and allow your children to give the answers. Our goal was always to have our children memorize the correct answer word-for-word before moving on to the next question, so we might spend a week or more on one question, but by the end of this time, they knew the answer well and could give it without our help.
Over the years, Baptists have produced a number of biblically faithful and edifying catechisms. Founders Ministries has a series of Truth and Grace (TAG) Memory Books available. Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania has produced a Catechism for Young Children, and there are many good historical catechisms such as Keach’s Baptist Catechism and Spurgeon’s Catechism. There is no shortage of ways that you can learn God’s truth through tools like these.
Finally, your family worship should include a time of praying together. You can go around the room and ask each person in your family to pray, or you can ask everyone for at least one thing to be thankful for and one thing to pray about before leading prayer yourself. You can also use one of the psalms or another Scripture passage as a prayer, or you can pray using The Valley of Vision. But however you decide to pray, you will want to draw near to the throne of grace as a family, giving Him thanks for His many blessings and asking for help in time of need.
Yes, family worship is a commitment, and commitments can be challenging to meet and maintain. But when we are faithful to God in bringing our family together to worship Him, we are fulfilling the very purpose for which He created us. What could be more important?
Donald Whitney offers helpful encouragement in his excellent book Family Worship, including this reminder: “In family worship, be brief, be regular, and be flexible” (75, 76). Typically, my family’s worship lasts for about 10 to 15 minutes in the evening. Do we miss nights? Yes. Have our methods changed over the years? Sure. But we cannot stay focused on our struggles and failures. So we pray for help and look forward to another day of leading our family to worship our glorious God.