After reading several of the posts over the last month here at Temple Dwellers Ministry, some readers may be jumping to the conclusion that the Zbylot household has a wonderful time each and every night singing songs, reading the bible, and melodiously interacting with one another in the Spirit of the Lord. I must say that there is always a lot of spirit in the house, but I don’t know that it is always the Spirit of the Lord!! On multiple occasions it looks more like the following…children fighting over which songs we will sing together, bible reading interrupted by children poking one another as mom sternly encourages everyone to stay focused so that we can get to bed, while dad tries to not get impatient with everyone who is not listening to what is being read. While we don’t have a perfect family worship time, nor do we have one on a nightly basis, I would like to share with you why we do family worship, what it typically looks like (if there ever is a typical worship), and some resources to begin your own.
Why we do Family Worship
Several years ago Scott and I took a class at the seminary called The Christian Home. One of our assignments in the class was to create a family worship plan and implement it for six weeks. It was this assignment along with one of our assigned reading books, Sacred Parenting: How Raising Children Shapes Our Souls by Gary L. Thomas, that really challenged Scott and I to seriously explore what having a family worship time could do for our family. After our initial class project was over and we recounted what went right and what went wrong during our times together as a family, we realized that having a family worship time was something we needed to implement in our home, not because it had been assigned, but because it is what the Lord wanted from us (Deuteronomy 6:6-9). In addition, the impact having a family worship time made in our relationships with one another was amazing. Again, we don’t have the perfect family and we fight on multiple occasions, but our family worship time gives us an opportunity to reflect upon our actions, ask for forgiveness when needed, as well as encourage one another with thankfulness that we are in the particular family God has given to us.
What does Family Worship Look Like
So what does family worship look like? For us it looks like an all you can eat buffet and depending on the particular night, we either end up with a full course meal or just a dessert. I don’t necessarily have a cookie-cutter plan because each family is different and as your family grows and enters into new stages of life, the worship time changes. But, here are a few things to keep in mind when forming your own family worship time.
In our Christian Home class, we were told a good gauge for the length of a family worship time should be no longer than one minute for every year of your youngest child. That means if you have a 12, 9, and 4 year old, your devotional time should only be about 4 minutes long! This was such a relief to us as we had very young children at the time. We did not have to have a 30 minute long singing, bible reading, and prayer time. We were free to create a family worship that met the needs of our family.
Second, we were told that just because you may not be a singer, does not mean that you cannot take your computer or other device that plays music and sing along with it. We found that you can find multiple praise songs on line with video and lyrics for our family to sing along with. Our kids have enjoyed finding a song that they can share with everyone on family night and it helps to set the tone for our time together.
Third, reading of God’s word is extremely important. However you choose to do this will be up to you. You can use a children’s daily bible reading plan, a devotional book, or even something online. Below are a few that we are currently using or have used in the past.
Lastly, you do not have to have family worship everyday or at the same time. Schedules change. The important thing is to have family worship as a priority. As you make it a priority, your family will begin to have a desire to do it and frequency and continuity will come on its own.
Resources for beginning Family Worship
There are a ton of resources out there available for leading a family worship time. Currently we are working through a book series called How God Used a Thunderstorm and other Devotional Stories by Joel R. Beeke & Diana Kleyn. I purchased this series around Christmas time when Vision Forum was having all their sales. I didn’t know exactly what it would be like, but we have thoroughly enjoyed it. They are short one to three page short stories with thought-provoking precepts, questions and prayers. Here is an excerpt of one of the shorter stories found on page 75:
“A man was once packing his suitcase, preparing for a trip. A friend was watching him. The man said, ‘Well, I have a little corner left in my suitcase. In it, I am going to pack a map, a lamp, a mirror, a telescope, a book of poems, some biographies, a bundle of letters, a psalm book, and a sharp sword—all in a space of about five by three inches!’‘How are you going to do that?’ asked the friend.‘Very easily,’ replied the man, ‘for my Bible is all of these things!’Question: Do you value your Bible as this man did his? Is your Bible your map, light, mirror and sword? What is meant by these four terms? Look up Ezra 7:10. What did Ezra do with God’s word?Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:105-112”
Another resource we have used in the past is a series given to us by my sister-in-law three years ago to be used during advent. You read one each year and the character’s within each book are intertwined with one another. They are: Jotham’s Journey, Bartholomew’s Passage, and Tabitha’s Travels by Arnold Ytreeide. There is also one for Easter called, Amon’s Adventure that we are all looking forward to reading this Easter season. These books are extremely fascinating and leave the reader wanting more each night. The kids love it and God’s truth is proclaimed throughout.
We have used an online devotional called Keys for Kids as well. We use it more as a morning devotional for the kids to give their minds a special focus for the day, but it could easily be used for a family devotional as well.
Then Sings My Soul by Robert Morgan is a great way to teach your children meaningful hymns and the stories behind them. In the past we have read the history about one of the hymns, found a video with the lyrics to the hymn and then sung along with it. Hymns come alive when you understand the story about how it originated.
Of course the main resource and the only thing you have to have is a Bible! Nothing can substitute for the reading of God’s word and never underestimate the power of God’s word. In fact, my daughter mentioned the other night that when she first read a whole chapter in Proverbs for her devotion instead of her devotional book, it gave her a totally different perspective. Amazing! We don’t need anything outside of God’s word! Which version is up to your family as well. Some of our favorites include the HCSB, NIV, NASB, NIrV (a kid's study bible).
The key to having a family worship time is to find something your family enjoys, pray for a faithfulness to carry it out, and no matter what it looks like, you do it together. In the end, the children will remember their parents did whatever it took to make sure family worship happened in their home and through God’s grace their lives were changed because of it.
My Heart’s Prayer: Lord, thank you for your graciousness to our family. Please help us to continue to seek and make time to spend time together in worship as a family. Show us what needs to be changed in our lives and encourage us in our strengths. In Jesus Name, Amen.