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What is Family Worship?


The Centrality of the Home:


Perhaps the greatest calling that God has placed upon parents is the discipleship of their children. Contrary to the popular belief, parents are not merely present to provide for the physical needs of their children. Rather, the Scriptures command that parents are to “bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph. 6:4) One of the greatest instruments for this end is the construct of family worship. Cotton Mather, in his book A Family Well Ordered, comments that family worship is a time set apart for parents to “instruct their children, in the articles of religion; acquainting them with God, and Christ, and the mysteries of the Gospel, and the doctrines and methods of the great salvation.”[1] God is worthy of our worship, not only behind the pew on Sundays, but in our homes with our families. The calling upon parents to earnestly love their family must include this specific practice.

The responsibility of parents in leading family worship should not derive from mere pastoral instructions or exhortations. Rather, family worship must be brought forth out of biblical conviction. Voddie Baucham comments in his book Family Driven Faith, “You must be convinced that this is something you need, and you must be convicted that this is something required of you as a parent who is responsible for bringing your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”[2] Our biblical conviction that God has placed this calling upon Fathers and Mothers should serve as our supreme motivation. We must understand that, ultimately, family worship is a serious endeavor to lead our children to the truth of the gospel. As we continuously lead them to the Lord through worship in our home, it is our heart’s cry that God would save their souls. The neglect of this high-calling and responsibility can have significant consequences. I would echo what Mather writes:

In the case we inquire after what is to be done, by pious parents. Other parents will take no due notice, of the injunctions that God has laid upon them concerning their children. Parents, if you don’t first become yourselves pious, you will do nothing to purpose to make your children so.[3]

The great Charles Spurgeon rightfully adds:

I trust there are none here present, who profess to be followers of Christ who do not also practice prayer in their families. We may have no positive commandment for it, but we believe that it is so much in accord with the genius and spirit of the gospel, and that it is so commanded by the example of the saints, that the neglect therefore is a strange inconsistency.[4]

The Blueprint:


In a nutshell, family worship is that sacred appointed moment when a family engages in direct worship towards the triune God. Family worship includes three crucial elements: the reading and instruction from the word of God, a time of devoted prayer to God, and a daily singing of praise to God. William Boekestein writes, “Family worship is not merely a religious discipline; it is a meeting with the triune God in a spirit of adoration by means of three key ingredients: Scripture, singing, and prayer.”[5] Both Joel R. Beeke and Donald S. Whitney in their books “FAMILY WORSHIP,” would also express agreement with this definition. In essence, all three elements work together in an effort to promote gospel-centrality and Christ-centeredness in the home.

Scripture Reading. The reading of Scripture to our children is the essential element in family worship. The Scripture reveals to us about who God is and, ultimately, leads us toward the good news of our Lord Jesus. Scripture tells us that “the word of God is alive and active.” The apostle Paul understood this clearly when he scripted 2 Timothy 3:15 saying, “and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” As often as parents read the word of God to their children, they are relying on the word of truth to work in their children’s minds and hearts.

Prayer Time. Family worship also consists of a time of devotional prayer to God. A family’s prayer time together should include but not be limited to a recognition of who God is; a time of thanks, and a time of requests for personal needs. During these prayer times, there must also be the intent to teach our children how to pray. One thing I’ve witnessed from my daughter is that, when given the opportunity, she prays just like I do. Family prayer time is always an opportunity to teach and model for our children how to pray.

Singing Praise. During family worship, there should also be a time set aside for singing praises to God. Singing songs of praise in the home builds an authentic sense of worship without all the musical gimmicks. It is the ideal time to teach songs that are rooted in biblical doctrines. These occasions can also serve as a time to familiarize our children with songs that will be sung during corporate worship.

Final Thoughts:

As parents, we have been handed the duty of leading our families through family worship. We must live in those words of Joshua, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Coming together in the home for personal worship time is absolutely necessary. It must become the duty of all Christian parents—those who truly love the Lord—to provide those faithful years of engagement in family worship. Let us not forget that God is absolutely worthy of our praise and worship!

 

[1] Mather, Cotton. A Family Well Ordered. San Bernardino: CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2013. [2] Baucham Jr., Voddie. Family Driven Faith. Doing what it takes to raise sons and daughters who walk with God. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007. [3] Mather, Cotton. A Family Well Ordered. San Bernardino: CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2013. [4] Whitney, Donald S.. Family Worship. Wheaton: Crossway, 2016. [5] Boekestein, W. (2020, March 27). Family Worship 101. Retrieved June 27, 2020, from https://www.ligonier.org/blog/family-worship-101/

 

Kx. Tswv David Yang (BS, Toccoa Falls College) is a husband to Sue Khang and a father to Naomi and Georgia. He has served in formal ministry as a Youth Pastor for over 10 years and is currently one of the Family and Children Pastors at Covenant City Church in St. Paul, MN. Presently he is pursuing his MA in Biblical Counseling at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Tswv David is committed to serving the church to love and foster the home for the glory of God.

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