I would offer four elements for formal family worship: (1) Bible (reading, instruction/information, formation, transformation); (2) Prayer; (3) Singing; and (4) Supplemental Elements, which may consist of catechizing through creeds or confessions, devotionals, biographies, and other books and writings. One does not need a revolutionary plan, or a new curriculum to begin or continue with family worship. These elements are grounded biblically, and they are the means and disciplines God has already provided for Christian parents.
We have lived through the COVID pandemic. We understand the significance of how a virus goes viral. It passes to others. We also continue to live through the reality of another kind of virus: social contagion. This is also a form of a virus, passing on a world-and-life view that is deadly spiritually.
One of the greatest ways to inculcate against this spiritual rot that comes from the world is through imparting another world-and-life view that comes from the Bible. And in Christian homes, this is faithfully and fruitfully done through family worship, those intentional and purposeful days of gathering daily to hear from God, to discern things through the lens of biblical truth, and to discuss these truths in the issues we encounter in life.
In what follows, I will offer a short introduction to beginning and/or maintaining the practice of family worship, a vital part of Christian discipleship and the formation of a Christian home.
Teach Diligently to Your Children
One of the most significant ways to build biblical truths into the lives of your family is through family worship. As this is done positively and proactively, it also serves as a response to the debilitating and deadly effects of the most popular catechetical resource today, the iPhone. Our children and families are being catechized by social media non-stop. And the Word of God is be left behind like some out-of-date operating system.
Knowing what is at stake, this calls for action. In my family, family worship was part of the warp and woof of life, of living out the mandate for life stated by Moses in Deuteronomy 6:1–9, especially verses 7–9:
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Often, family worship is foreign territory, because many of us did not have family worship taught to or modeled for us. I am not completely sure what happened in your home, but it did not happen in my home. (My parents were Christians and did the best they could with the resources they had while raising seven children, but truth was more caught than taught in an informal way.)
I wanted to do something differently with my family than what I experienced growing up. We knew this delightful discipline was important in order to impart “the faith once for all entrusted to the saints” to our children (Jude 3). We learned how to do family worship by reading the Scriptures, gleaning from others, and trial and error. The fruit from these intentional times was invaluable. And in what follows, I can only share with you what I wished someone had share more fully with me as my wife and I began to incorporate family worship.
Why Family Worship
Let’s begin with why Christians should pursue the worship of God in their homes.
When God blesses families with children, they are gifts from the Lord (Ps. 127:3). And one of the most important ways parents steward children as gifts is to teach them the faith and to shepherd their hearts. This is a delight and duty given to parents in the home (Deut. 6:7). Without denying the place of the church, the home is the context where God and his truths are taught and lived out on a daily basis (1 Tim. 3:4–5, 12).
The primary responsibility for instructing children, therefore, rests with parents (Eph. 6:1–3). And even more, it resides with the father, whose God-given role and responsibility is to head the home (Eph 6:4). The church comes alongside and supports the spiritual instruction in the home, but it is not the primary responsibility of the church. This critical task has been given to parents. And if this instruction is not done in the home on a daily or regular basis, the gap of teaching will not remain empty; it will be filled by other people and other things. There are innumerable “teachers” who are eager to instruct your children in the beliefs and morality of the world. Just consider the endless array of popular personalities on social media, uninformed but charismatic peers, and exciting apps designed to hook your children with every kind of human philosophy and empty deceit (Col. 2:8).
To combat such an onslaught, Christian parents do well to prioritize family worship.