Family worship is family discipleship 101. When it comes to being a disciple-making parent, family worship is the place to start. As we think about our vision of partnering with parents in Providence Kids and sharing the goal of discipleship between church and home, family worship is the biggest part of the partnership that the home plays.
How does the home and how do parents function to make church and home share the goal of discipleship? Aside from simply attending and gathering as the church and being a part of kids discipleship opportunities, the answer is family worship. What is family worship? Three words to help you think about it: Read, Pray, and Sing. As a parent and in your home, you are leading your kids to regularly read, know, and memorize the Bible, pray and talk to God, and sing songs to God and about God to help your kids rejoice in God’s greatness and rehearse gospel truth.
Puritan Matthew Henry said, “They that pray in the family do well; they that pray and read the Scriptures do better; but they that pray, and read, and sing do best of all.” That’s family worship. That’s the home playing a huge part in our partnership. That’s parents embracing their role as disciple-making parents.
To understand the importance of family worship, it is crucial to grasp the priority, necessity, and reality of family worship.
The Priority of Family Worship
As a parent, you have to understand and realize that you will disciple your kids to something. It’s not a question of if, but what. Without realizing it, you may be discipling your kids towards academic success, athletic achievement, or material possessions without even knowing it. Family worship is the practice of prioritizing discipleship of knowing, trusting, and following Jesus. Family worship is establishing the foundation of your family to be on God and God’s Word and not the worldly pursuits and pleasures of the American dream.
The Necessity of Family Worship
Family worship is necessary because of the regular opportunities that moms and dads have the chance to create within the regular rhythms of daily life. While we as a church seek every opportunity to read, pray, and sing within Providence Kids, the simple truth is that moms and dads have more opportunities to do this because of the greater amount of time they have with their kids. Disciple-making should be both about example and instruction and about taking advantage of planned and unplanned moments, family worship is setting aside intentional time for specific instruction and planned moments of discipleship within the home. Family worship is a way to ensure that discipleship regularly takes place within the home without just assuming it will when opportunities arise.
The Reality of Family Worship
So how do you make it happen? Do not simply make a new resolution to do family worship for the first time or more regularly, but create a new rhythm for accomplishing family worship. Keep in mind that saying yes to one thing automatically means saying no to something else. If you see the priority and necessity of family worship in the discipleship of your kids, then realistically you have to say no to some things in your daily schedule in order to make family worship happen.
So build a daily rhythm. Remember that family worship is read, pray, sing. So designate a specific time and place to do those things as a family as regularly as possible. The time may look different based on the ages of your kids, but shoot for around 15 minutes. Anchor it to another regular rhythm of your daily schedule, like a meal or bedtime. Teach your kids and build the routine that you don’t get up from the dinner table or you don’t go to bed without reading, praying, and singing as a family.
As you lead, prioritize accomplishment over mastery. Something is better than nothing. Some days will go better than others so don’t be discouraged or lose heart when it feels like a waste of time. Don’t underestimate the value and importance of your kids seeing you do this as a family. When it comes to reading the Bible, that could be simply reading a chapter a day through a book of the Bible you select and talking about what it says, going through a Kids Storybook Bible, memorizing our monthly Simple Daily Routine family worship resource, or using our Providence Kids Catechism. Singing could be singing a song from corporate worship or something off our Providence Kids Worship Playlist. You can sing with music or just sing acapella. Praying could be using the ACTS prayer model, praying using Providence’s monthly prayer guide, or just praying for things in your family’s daily life.
Parenting should never be done in isolation. This is why you need a community around you to help you, encourage you, and challenge you. So ask other families what family worship looks like for them. If something doesn’t work, try a different routine or different method. As kids grow and stages and seasons of life change, then be ready to adapt family worship to the specific ages of your kids. Just keep in mind that this is family worship, so the most consistent thing is it is the whole family together reading, praying, and singing. Dads, you should be the leaders of family worship as the primary shepherds of your family and their spiritual formation. This doesn’t mean you can’t do other things for discipleship for different kids, but the intent is to have a regular time for the whole family in the presence of God together.
If you’d love to pursue family worship further, then check out the book Family Worship by Donald Whitney. If you’d like a free copy, then just email [email protected] and we’d love to give you one!