Every family will face challenges when seeking to worship together, and some situations will be harder than others, but God is able to make all grace abound to us, no matter what our situation is (Discussion of the fourth chapter of Don Whitney’s book, Family Worship).


Intro
The “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast is a family discipleship resource from Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. It aims to equip you and your family to be on mission with God, to the end of the street and to the ends of the earth.

Andy Owens
Welcome back, Providence families. I’m Andy Owens, and Daniel Savage and I have been talking about Don Whitney’s little book Family Worship. Daniel, welcome back to you as well.

Daniel Savage
Yes, glad to be here.

Andy
Today we’re looking at chapter four of Don Whitney’s book, and in this chapter, what he’s doing is addressing common questions, really common situations that might make family worship more difficult. He’s really answering the question, but what if?

The first, there’s really a kind of group of situations that have to do with the dad’s role. So before we dive into those, Daniel, let me ask you a question. Why is the dad and the dad’s role so important in family worship?

Daniel
The dad’s role is so important, and it’s addressed here in the book the way that it is because dads have been given a unique role by God to lead their families spiritually. So the way that God has designed the family, the father, the husband is responsible for giving oversight to the family. And by that, it means he’s supposed to lead them towards the things of God. He’s the one that will be held accountable by God for the direction of the family, the spiritual life of the family, and it’s his responsibility to teach and to train.

And so family worship falls squarely sort of in his realm of…

Andy
In his responsibilities. That’s good. Yeah, we see Paul addressing husbands and with a heavy responsibility to love their wives as Christ loved the church in Ephesians five, and then in Ephesians 6, we see him addressing fathers when he says to bring your children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

I actually remember hearing Frosty say something one time about this. He said, it’s not because the mother’s role is insignificant that Paul addresses fathers. It’s one, because the father does have this kind of primary responsibility before God, but also because fathers often are the ones who need to be invited to the party. Mothers typically, this isn’t always the case, but typically do feel more of a sense of responsibility to invest in the next generation, whereas fathers can easily be emotionally, spiritually absent from the home.

So that’s really the situation that Don Whitney is addressing here. The first kind of subset of it is, what if the father is not a Christian? So what should a believing mother do if her unbelieving husband doesn’t want to have anything to do with family worship?

Daniel
Well, I think a believing mother should take on a mantle of responsibility to pass on to her kids the knowledge of the goodness of God. So she would think about how she’s going to do that through family worship, through other means. How is she going to tell them about God? How is she going to impart to them the truth of God?

And so I think she should, by God’s grace, step up to lead this time of family worship and just try to create rhythms in her home where she’s regularly passing on the truth.

Andy
Yeah, that’s good. Another situation that may be somewhat common, I hope it’s not, but where a husband is professing to be a believer, but he’s still doesn’t have any desire to lead spiritually in the home. He doesn’t want to lead in family worship. He’s not concerned about spiritual instruction. Is there any different encouragement for a woman in that state? Is there any nuance that we’d give to encouragement to her?

Daniel
I think, certainly, I think it’s a little different. I think I would encourage her one, to be praying for her husband. I think I’d probably say that in both cases, obviously.

Andy
To the woman who’s married to an unbeliever, I mean Paul specifically gives some instructions in First Corinthians seven that she should live with him. If he consents to live with her, she should not divorce him. It says for the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife.

And then a few verses later he says, for how do you know wife whether you will save your husband? Perhaps God will use you and your faith in Christ to rescue your husband. Sorry I interrupted you.

Daniel
No, it’s good. I think for the wife who has a husband who just isn’t interested in leading, I think it is a little bit more complicated and requires a little bit more wisdom. I think you should engage in teaching your kids, in passing on the truth to your kids.

At the same time, always leaving room for your husband to step into that role, in encouraging him to do so with grace and praying for him to want that and to desire to lead in that way and trying to lower the bar of entry for him in any way that you can. That sort of your role as his helpmate to try to almost tee up those opportunities for him in any way that you can is good.

Andy
And I would say also just to affirm him in any way that you can. There needs to be a sense of respectful, pure conduct. So First Peter says, 1 Peter chapter three, he speaks to women whose husbands do not obey the word and that really might, this situation could have a lot of overlap with that address there.

And so just knowing that I think in that case, a mother should and would want to invest God’s truth into her kids.

But always being careful not to undermine her husband and not to denigrate him, but rather to in any way she can affirm him, build him up, encourage any signs or indications of leadership and desire to lead, and doing it all in prayer that God would like you said, give him a desire to pursue the everlasting joy of his kids in the Savior.

Daniel
Yeah, I think doing that is going to give him the best opportunity to step into that role. And I think it’s important for wives especially to think about and remember that as a husband who hasn’t been leading to step into leadership is really difficult.

Andy
It’s an acknowledgment of failure in the past.

Daniel
It would take a remarkable amount of humility to begin to lead because you’re going to have to acknowledge that you haven’t been, and so do everything you can, not to put hurdles up that are unnecessary.

Andy
That’s good. Don’t draw lines in the sand if you don’t need to.

And the last kind of situation related to dads is really more simple, but probably the most difficult. And that is if there’s just not a dad in the home at all. If you find yourself parenting alone as a single mom, family worship is going to be more difficult, more challenging, just like everything is going to be more difficult, more challenging.

But I would just say to you, Mom, God is able to make all grace abound to you. He is a perfect Father to all who trust in Jesus and pray that God would make you like Lois and Eunice, whom Paul mentions in 2 Timothy. Paul’s mother and grandmother. He said, I know of their sincere faith and I’m sure that it dwells in you. And he tells Timothy, from childhood, you’ve known the sacred writings. So he learned them. He had an unbelieving Greek father. He learned them from his mother and his grandmother.

And so I would just encourage you, single moms, to commit yourself to teaching God’s word to your children and wait to see how God is going to support and sustain you in that good effort. So anything else you’d add there, Daniel?

Daniel
No, other than lean on the church in any way that you can. Leaders at the church, those who have invested in your kids. Lean on that support.

Andy
That partnership may be even more robust and more significant in that case. That’s good.

Okay, a few other situations that Don Whitney talks about. We won’t spend a lot of time talking about them, but what if my kids are really young, like too young to sit still? Real quick, what advice?

Daniel
Well, my kids were always able to sit still, so it’s hard for me to relate to this particular…

Andy
Okay, thanks Daniel.

Daniel
I think we should all just acknowledge that when you start doing this if you start when your kids are young, they aren’t going to sit still.

Andy
That’s right.

Daniel
And there will be many times that you think, why are we doing this?

Andy
This feels pointless.

Daniel
Yeah, so I think it’s important to remember, one of my favorite words in parenting is the word training. I think about that word all the time. It helps keep me sane.

And in the beginning, a lot of what you’re doing, it’s not necessarily information transfer or content download. What you’re doing is training them how to sit and listen. You’re training them that this is important. You’re training them that our lives revolve around the Bible, and all of those things can be learned without them sitting perfectly still. So you’re working on the ability to sit still. That is in essence, what you’re doing in the beginning, so…

Andy
You’re also showing the importance of God. You’re showing your young children that God is significant in our lives, and we take time every day to come and gather around his word. And you’re instilling the patterns for not only for them when they become older children, but for them when they become adults. They don’t have to… Don Whitney says, they won’t have to read a book like this when they’re adults because they’ll have seen family worship from their childhood, from their earliest days.

Daniel
Yeah, that’s absolutely right, and I think keeping that in mind, they are learning more than you can imagine. So just the habit teaches them, the practice teaches them. All of it is teaching them.

Andy
That’s good, that’s good. And he addresses some other things. What if your kids, if there’s a significant age gap, you need to seek the Lord for wisdom and help, and you want to try to address and accommodate kids at different developmental levels. You want to ask targeted questions for younger kids and targeted questions for older kids, but just be patient with yourselves in that.

Any family, every family is going to have challenges and difficulties when it comes to doing family worship. There’s no family who has the perfect scenario so that family worship will always go smoothly, always be easy. So I would just encourage you guys to ask God for grace to persevere.

Satan does not want us listening to God’s word, praying together, singing together, but God is worthy. He’s worthy of our worship. He’s worthy of the worship of every person in our home and family worship is a great opportunity to, again and again, proclaim his truth, proclaim his goodness, proclaim his faithfulness, proclaim his power and mercy over our homes, over our families, over our children. So may God help us to do it.

Daniel
Praise the Lord.

Andy
Amen. Thank you guys for listening. See you next time.

Outro
Thanks for listening to this episode of the “Gospel Shaped Home” podcast produced by Providence Baptist Church of Raleigh, North Carolina. For more information and resources from Providence, visit us online at pray.org. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review on Apple Podcasts.