Family Worship – A Skeleton

Family Worship: A Skeleton

 

I was going to call this “Family Worship: A Biblical Skeleton” but I realized it would be far too long for the purpose I want this to serve, so instead of going in depth to mine the different scriptures to show how family worship should operate, I decided to simply give a “bare bones” skeleton of what family worship should look like from a biblical perspective. I can of course give scripture references and support if you want them, but here is a simply outline of what God wants from us during our corporate household gatherings for study and worship of God.

I’ve divided what God wants from us up into 3 simple categories…1. Prayer 2. Praise and 3. Bible study and meditation. Though they don’t have to be in that order, you may find it more natural to praise first, then pray or read, or visa versa…it doesn’t really matter which order you do it in, just so long as you do I;-).

I should also mention that this paper assumes that you both want to and will have regular family worship. If this is something you struggle with, whether because of business or absentmindedness or something else altogether, I implore you to get over your struggles. There is nothing more important than yours and your family’s walk with the Lord. 1 John 3:3 says “I have no greater joy than to know my children (my family) walk in the truth.” This proves that there is nothing more important, or more joyful, than that our family grow closer to God. So if your family doesn’t or can’t conduct regular family worship, I encourage you to examine your priorities. Which TV shows, movies, or books can be cut out? How hard would it be to stay up an extra 20 minutes and disciple your family? Yes, I’m only talking about 15-25 minutes;-) It can certainly be longer, but if you would start here, it would change your family!

I also want to give a couple practical ideas as to how each of these could work out depending on family size and structure, I’m not going to include considerations for a single person household though, since that is the very same as our personal bible study and worship times. That is important, but it doesn’t really fall under “family” worship. So here goes…

 

  1. Prayer

    1. This should go without saying, but every family worship time (and every individual worship time) should be saturated with prayer. I would say that although reading your bible is what is more practically important for daily life, if you can do only one thing during a day, because time is short or something has come up…then pray.

    2. Now some practical applications

      1. Here are a couple different suggestions I have for how to have a meaningful prayer life with your spouse and/or whole family, and especially during designated times of family worship.

        1. A prayer list

          1. Make a simple list with the 10 most important things you can think of to pray for this week, and pray for them every day. It doesn’t have to be in depth, and could truly be as simple as “Lord, please keep Bob safe during his surgery” or “Lord, please save our children, and make them walk in the truth”.

          2. It doesn’t have to be a long drawn out thing at all…you don’t even have to start with 10, but you could simply start with something like praying for your marriage, your children (if you have any), your church, and your unsaved friends or family.

        2. A Prayer Binder

          1. My wife and I actually have a prayer binder where we don’t even pray for the same things every day (except for a few essentials like the salvation of our children), but instead pray systematically for different requests and people throughout the week, month, and year respectively. It keeps us accountable to make sure we let all of our “requests be made known to the Lord”.

          2. Something like this can be very helpful if you are more of an organizational type.

        3. A Prayer Guide

          1. There are many good prayer books and guides out there, and actually many daily devotionals help you with direction in your prayers and even have sample prayers. I think that these can be very helpful to give us different things to be thankful for especially, because our prayers often end up being simply a “request depository” instead of conversations.

  2. Praise

    1. What do I mean by praise? Well, many people think I’m talking about singing and playing music during family worship, and although that could very well be how you praise, it most certainly doesn’t have to be.

    2. All we mean by praise is that there should be a time (or the entire time) where you stop bringing requests to God, and you stop everything else you’re doing, and you just thank and praise God for who He is (this being the most important one), what He’s done for you, and what He is doing for you. The reason people think of music and singing is because that’s really the main area where we stop everything else and just praise God, but it most certainly doesn’t have to be that way. What then are some other ways to praise God? I’m glad you asked;-)

      1. Practical Applications

        1. Reading songs or christian poetry

          1. This won’t be for everyone, but some may really enjoy this. Instead of singing or playing music for the wonderful songs and hymns of the faith, simply read them and meditate on what the author was meditating on when he or she wrote it…the wonderful character and works of God!

          2. I have a wonderful list of both hymns and praise songs (and even some poems!) that are doctrinally rich and very full of praise and worship to God…just ask if you’d like

        2. Reading the Psalmns

          1. This may sound simply like reading the Bible, but because most of the Psalmns are short, it’s very easy to treat them like devotionals and just to read them and then think about what they are saying. It may even be helpful to read them before praying so that you can then use them to spark your thoughts on the different attributes and works of God.

          2. My wife did this on her own, for her personal bible study time for a while, and she made it through all 150 psalmns in less than 3 months, because she said she just loved to read them and was so thankful for how they helped point her toward God.

        3. Reading a daily devotional.

          1. I don’t think daily devotionals should replace bible reading or study, but they are a great way to spark us to prayer and praise, which by the way, could often happen simultaneously. Please don’t think that when I speak about these things that they are always supposed to be scheduled and rigid. The Holy Spirit moves and speaks to different people in different ways at different times and to different degrees. Your prayer time could follow a daily reading from a devotional and it could start with a praise and thanksgiving filled prayer, and then move into your requests, and it would still be wonderful!

        4. Singing… with or without music

          1. Singing is truly a wonderful thing, but singing is not in and of itself, praising. What I would say is that whether you strap on your guitar, or put in your favorite praise cd, or simply sing the great hymns of the faith acapella…please don’t ever let the wonderful gift of music detract from the wonderful practice of praising God. This happens often in churches, and I would imagine it happens much in times of family worship as well. God created music, but it is for the purpose of driving us closer to Him. Music is not an end in and of itself. In the same way that words can be made to make us think wonderful things that are utterly unbiblical, music can be used to make us feel things that are not the Holy Spirit’s moving in our lives…

          2. I wholeheartedly affirm that music and singing are a wonderful addition to family worship (as are the above mentioned methods as well of course) but they, like all things, should be done for the glory of God, not for the glory of man, or for the glory of the music itself. There is no place for show-offs in the worship of God…unless you’re God of course;-)

  3. Bible reading and/or Study

    1. This is truly the most important thing you can do during your family worship, but as I said above, if you were rushed or had something come up unexpectedly, then I would actually encourage you to pray instead. The best bible study and meditation flows from prayer, and is slightly dependent on it for the best experiences. That being said, if you can in any way make time and room for reading and studying your bible every day, then do so;-)

    2. I’ve also included both Bible reading and Bible study in this section, and that’s because, although they both have their place, I believe that during your lifetime of doing family worship, this will shift and change…so I want to give you some practical ideas of how to do either one.

      1. Bible Reading

        1. One year plan

          1. This is a great way to read through the bible, it only takes about 15 minutes a day (reading out loud) and will always spark great discussion among family members. It will confuse, convict, encourage, and push you. Plus, there are many different ways to read the bible through in a year, so you can do something different each year. My personal favorite is the chronological combo (the one we’re doing this year) where you read through the Old Testament chronologically and at the same time read through the New Testament chronologically.

        2. Three year plan

          1. This one does not require as much commitment (only about 5 minutes a day), and also lets you go a little slower, which can come in handy, because you do sometimes get a lot of information during that 15 minutes.

        3. 90 Day plan

          1. This is what I’ve been doing, and I love it, but it’s a much larger commitment, and doesn’t really fit into the 15-25 minutes that I suggested for family worship every day. This plan requires about 45 minutes of reading a day (about 50 if you read out loud).

          2. If you have the time though, this can be extremely rewarding, because it gives you such a zoomed out perspective of the Bible, and really lets you get the big picture of what God is doing in scripture.

        4. Smaller scope plans

          1. There are many other ways to read the Bible, from simply taking a month to go through the gospels, to reading Pauls letters, to picking one book and just reading 1 chapter a day. Any of these are good, because they get you into the word, and they will oftentimes (though not always, so don’t be discouraged) spark some thoughts in your mind for you to discuss with your family.

          2. I remember when my wife and I first started committing to reading the Bible daily, it felt as if we had tons more questions than observations or applications to our lives, but, we would write down our questions and sometimes, though not all the time, we’d try to find the answers. Your pastors are a wonderful place to go for those types of questions;-) If we don’t have the answer, we’ll certainly try to supply you with a resource that does.

          3. So don’t feel discouraged if all you ever have is questions, that simply means that you’re reading critically and intentionally, and the Lord will certainly bless that;-)

      2. Bible Study

        1. Lastly, I want to talk about actual Bible study. The biggest difference between the two approaches of bible reading and bible study is simply the depth to which you’re trying to understand the passage, and also what you’re trying to understand about the passage. For example, if we’re reading through the bible in a year, then, although we want to meditate on what the passages are talking about and how they apply to our lives, we are mainly just trying to get a grasp on the scope and story of scripture. Whereas with studying your bible, you may find yourself going with only one verse a day, in order to truly pull out all the meaning and applications for your life. Both are very good, and either approach is wonderful for family worship. Currently, my family is going verse by verse through James…one word at a time, but we’ve done many different types of both readings and studies. This is your family, and your family worship, so do what you believe is the best for your family right now. It may change a month from now, and that’s fine….just commit to consuming your bible in some form. And now for some different ideas as to how to go about bible study with your family worship time.

          1. Practical Applications

            1. Purchase a bible study

              1. Having worked at a book store, I now see all the many different resources that are available to us for helping with our bible studies. There are many different types of bible studies. For example, John MacArthur has the entire New Testament in the form of 12 week studies that take you through a single book of the bible. He does a great job really helping you understand how to go deep into the books, but still go through a whole book in just 12 weeks!

              2. Kay Arthur (no relation btw) also has some great studies. Her method of study is awesome because she makes you get out your pen and paper and mark up the passages (she has lots of them in her book!). She also has the entire new testament available. She also has many topical studies available, where you can use the same method of study, but you’re going around your bible to different passages that have to do with the same topic.

            2. Dvd Studies

              1. On top of regular bible study books, there are also Dvd bible studies. These are very popular, and oftentimes really help facilitate discussion, because you’re getting someone else’s insights there in the video. John Piper has some great “basics of the faith” Dvd studies, as does Francis Chan. There are also some really great studies on church history and other religions, both of which can be fun, though they aren’t as much bible study, and more “christian worldview” study. They are still very good though!

            3. Topic studies

              1. Marriage, family, politics, salvation, the church etc…These are all great topics of study, and to study a topic you go around to each book of the bible and see what it has to say on the topic. These can be one of the best ways to help develop a child’s worldview on a topic. This is also the best method I know of to deal with things specifically to do with the great doctrines of the faith. I know of many different topical studies, and I could also show you how to perform topical studies all on your own. Let me know!

            4. Book of the bible studies

              1. Of course you don’t have to purchase John MacArthur’s study books, you can just open up your bible and start observing and interpreting!

              2. There are a number of great resources that help with bible study. Everything from a good study bible, to commentaries, to concordances and dictionaries all help with understanding and interpreting the bible on your own. This is my preferred method of bible study, because this is the one that, although it requires the most work, brings the most reward. You are observing, interpreting (finding out the main meaning) and applying the passages on all your own.

              3. As a side note. Sometimes it’s helpful to purchase one of the many “how to study your bible” books and go through it before or during your study process, because they can really be helpful to learn how to properly study and interpret different types of books of the bible. I recommend “Grasping God’s Word” wholeheartedly to anyone who would be willing to take the time and go through it. Kay Arthur’s “The New How to Study Your Bible” is also very very good.

            5. Catechism

              1. This may not sound like bible study, but it surely is. I very much recommend going through one of the many great catechism’s from the reformed faith. There is of course “Keach’s Catechism” which is what our church uses, but there is also a wonderful “Children’s Catechism” that is great both for adults and children just starting out and getting used to the concepts of a catechism.

              2. One of the very first things I did when we started family worship with our children was to go through the catechism, and even a year after being done with it, they were still able to communicate at the least the basic concepts of the answers, and oftentimes even the whole word for word answer!

            6. Verse memorization

              1. Lastly, though not of the least importance, is simply bible memorization. How does this fall under bible study you ask? Simply because if you will commit to put God’s word deep into your heart, you will begin to recall those verses all the time, and you will start to interpret and apply those verses to all the thousands of different situations in which they apply. You’ll be doing the “bible scholar” work simply as you go through your life. See, when God’s word is in your heart and in your mind, then you don’t have to have it in front of your eyes to study. You can observe, interpret, and apply whenever, wherever you are. This is, in my opinion, the second best (and closely associated with the first) thing to do with your family worship time.

              2. There are many different ways to get God’s word in your heart. Pastor Kevin has made many different lists that simply go through the ABC’s and assign a verse to each letter. I believe he has 3 different sets of ABC verse lists.

              3. I also wholeheartedly recommend picking a book of the bible and memorizing it. This may sound like a huge undertaking, but if you were to memorize all of 2 John, you wouldn’t have even memorized 26 verses! This, I believe is a better way of memorization because then you have the entire book at your disposal to “study any time” whereas with single verses or passages, you can sometimes miss the meaning because the meaning would be tied to the verse before and after.

              4. Right now though, I’m taking my family through the ABC’s, and it’s wonderful to see my children apply the verses to every day situations. So if this is your preferred method, then go for it! Just do what it takes to hide God’s word in your heart!

I hope this has been helpful. We truly want to see all of our members become engaged in regular family worship. So I’ll leave you with two thoughts.

  1. Anything you start is awkward the first few times.

    1. There’s now way around it. The first time you start something new like family worship with your family, it’s going to be awkward. Even if you’ve been doing family worship for a while and you’re going to change it up…it will still be rough at first. This is the nature of starting new things, so please don’t be discouraged, and please know that everyone else who has ever tried to change their families better have encountered the same things. Push through the awkwardness, and I promise there will be blessed comfort and unity on the other side.

  2. Anything you start is hard at first

    1. Again, there’s no way around this fact. Not only is starting something new awkward, but it’s also hard. It’s hard to change our comfort zone to pray with our family. It’s hard to sing or read or meditate on God’s glory together, and it’s hard to engage the word of God, but, we all know that there is no greater thing than to worship and serve the living God, and there is nothing more rewarding within that, than to know that our families are worshipping God together. It’s hard, but it is one of the most rewarding things we can do with our lives. Please don’t abandon the practice simply because it takes work. All good things take work. Fathers, you know what it’s like to find joy in a job well done when you’re outside your home. Please bring that mentality to the kitchen table, or the living room floor, or wherever you and your family choose to worship God together, and push through the obstacles, and push past your insecurities, and work hard to see a job well done. May it be, when it comes to discipling our families, and leading them in worshipping God, that God would look at us before His throne and say “Well done my good and faithful servant!”

This is my prayer for all of you.

In Christ,

Pastor Brandon

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