I have been asked to post by several people about Family Worship in our home. Honestly, I've been a bit reluctant in doing so because I know of my own tendencies to compare myself to others especially in the area of spiritual disciplines. I would never want another person to feel unneeded pressure or to get the impression that there is a right or wrong way to teach the Scriptures in one's own home.
Let's admit it. Legalism is a real trap. We can get so caught up in what other people define as spirituality that either we live to please man or we never try at all for fear of failure. That being said, there is great encouragement that we can receive from one another as we seek to love God. That is my true intention in writing this post and I pray that is is received as such.
Why we do it.
1) God makes it clear throughout His Word that worship of Him is not segregated to Sunday mornings or church related activities. The spiritual instruction of our children is our clear responsibility. It is our privilege to walk beside them in the everyday and instruct them in the Lord's ways. Yet, in our culture there is a lot more running around than walking. We need to set a regular time apart to sit at His feet and learn together. We must be intentional.
2) On the flip side, we recognize that God does set apart teachers and elders to shepherd and lead us. This is His gracious gift to us. We don't have to navigate Scripture alone or face life without the accountability of a church family. The community of believers is a crucial in our walk through this life. Family worship can not replace corporate worship, nor visa versa.
3) It's a time of training that wouldn't happen otherwise- memory verses, songs, how to sit still, how to pray, discussing the Bible and asking questions.
Where we do it.
1) Usually we have family worship in the least messy room so that we aren't distracted by the stuff. Normally, this sends us to the living room couch.
2) Recently we've found it useful to end our meals with Family Worship and just to stay at the table. It seems that right after dinner there's the usual rush to get the kitchen cleaned and it's hard to regroup. Also, John is stuck in his chair and can't run away.
3) Location really doesn't matter. We have enjoyed Family Worship in the van, on a hike, in our beds or in the back yard on a warm evening.
When we do it.
1) Though it would be a great way to start the day, that's just not where we are at. So we normally have Family worship right after dinner. This is when everyone is present and nobody is so hungry that they can't pay attention.
2) On Sunday afternoons Sean usually holds family worship while I fix lunch. They often discuss what they learned at church or prepare their memory work for the evening service. Sean also reads to them from whatever book he is studying while they do quiet activities like Legos, drawing or crafts. On Sunday nights, he usually sits on the stairs and reads to them until they fall asleep.
How we do it.
1) Our time of Family Worship has three parts: Sing to God. Listen to God. Talk to God. It's as simple as that.
2) Sing to God. We are usually working on learning a Psalm to sing so we sing through this one as well as a request or two. This takes at most 5 minutes. Hand motions have always been a fun way to engage everyone. When the kids were all young and most couldn't read we would make a poster together with the words illustrated through pictures.
3) Listen to God. We use this time to read Scripture to the kids. We've read books of the Bible at times. We've also enjoyed The Children's Story Bible by Catherine Vos several times. Right now we are reading The Story of Stories: The Bible in Narrative Form. We don't normally open this time up for discussion, though questions are welcomed. Occasionally, we'll have one of the older children read. The amount of time reading usually depends on our schedule and how the children are doing attention wise. We shoot for 10 minutes at least.
4) Talk to God. We end Family Worship with prayer. Sometimes we share requests and have the children each pray. Other times it is lead by Sean or myself. Since prayer involves confession, talking to God together often results in healing of relationships and restoration. I particularly enjoy this time because it is often spent on our knees or prostrate. There's something very refreshing at the end of a long day to come to the Lord humbly in this way.
As you can see, there's nothing spectacular about what we are doing here. God has been faithful through the years to bless these few minutes of the day that we commit to focusing on him.
I know that God's Word is going out into all of our hearts and He will accomplish His purposes.