2 Examples of Family Worship

2 Examples of Family Worship

2 Examples of Family Worship

An Example from Israel

The Biblical command for Christian education in the home was commanded by God.

Before there was a church building for training, there was family, and the parents were charged with the responsibility of teaching God’s commands to their children.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 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 (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9).

This was the generation of Israelites that witnessed amazing signs, miracles, and wonders. Many of the younger Israelites not only witnessed the supernatural signs, but were allowed to enter the Promised Land, as well. However, if we read a little further into the book of Judges, we see that when that generation was gone, so was anything godly.

And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110 years. And they buried him within the boundaries of his inheritance in Timnath-heres, in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash. And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger. They abandoned the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he gave them over to plunderers, who plundered them. And he sold them into the hand of their surrounding enemies, so that they could no longer withstand their enemies. Whenever they marched out, the hand of the Lord was against them for harm, as the Lord had warned, and as the Lord had sworn to them. And they were in terrible distress (Judges 2:8-15).

Wow, in just one generation the people had reverted back to paganism! Verse ten says that “they did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.”

Even though the parents had known God and seen Him do miraculous deeds to save them, they failed to pass this information down to their children. They did not “teach them diligently” nor make God a priority in their homes.

God had told them to talk of His commands when they talk, sit, walk, or lie down. God’s word was supposed to be a guide ever before their eyes. Their homes were to be a place that His commands were emphasized and taught, but the parents did not obey.

But that’s ok they had the tabernacle right? This was the role of the priest right? No!

God knew what He was doing when He assigned the spiritual oversight of the children to the parents. It was their duty, and still is a parent’s duty to make God’s Word a priority in our homes.

If we neglect this command of God, it is easy to see what we can expect of our children.

All it takes is just one generation and a whole nation had turned to paganism! Can this happen again? Of course it can. This is why we must reclaim family worship and catechism. The home is where God should be taught daily.

As Ligon Duncan writes, “The family is God’s divinely appointed ‘small-group’ discipleship program. The family is the first place that God appointed for teaching and learning about God and godliness. Children are to be instructed, guided in the way of life, and disciplined both directively and correctively.”1 

He later writes:

“Children growing up with the daily experience of seeing their parents humbled in worship, focusing on spiritual things, submitting to the authority of the word, catechizing and otherwise instructing their children will not easily turn from Christ. Our children should grow up with the voices of their fathers pleading for their souls in prayer ringing in their ears, leading to their salvation, or else haunting them for the rest of their lives.”2 

A Good New Testament Example

Hopefully, we will be like the mother and grandmother of Timothy.

Paul told him “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well” (2 Timothy 1:5).

What a beautiful example of a generational transfer of faith! Three generations of believers who loved God, obeyed God, and diligently passed the things of God onto the next generation.

Timothy had a mother and a grandmother who took his training seriously, and the result was an outstanding young man who served the Lord.

If our desire is to raise boys and girls into men and women of God we must realize that the training ground is in the home. May we not neglect God’s word and His command to teach it to our families.

References
1. James Montgomery Boice et al.,

Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship: Celebrating the Legacy of James Montgomery Boice (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2003), 320.

2. Ibid., 335.

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The Need to Include Catechism During Family Worship

The Need to Include Catechism During Family Worship

A good catechism should be a foundational part of the family worship time.

The Need to Include Catechism During Family Worship

My wife and I began to teach the Children’s Catechism to our six and eight year olds earlier a few years ago. After six months of implementing it, it was clear it has been, and will be, one of the most important things we have ever done as parents. These children already know more doctrinal truth than I did as a young adult.

It is a beautiful and wonderful thing to teach my kids the catechism, and to see them learning and memorizing it. Sadly, I have never known anyone personally, who was steeped in a catechism from their early years, but I am very excited to think of the cumulative effect of continuing with the catechism with them daily.

The catechism points are so rich and concise that once put to memory, they seem to form a structure of truth that the learner will always have in his life. It’s almost like memorizing the main points to a systematic theology book.

As Terry Johnson says, “catechisms are rich reservoirs of theological, devotional, and practical content. . . Children nurtured on the catechism will be formidable theologians in an age of irrationalism and general mindlessness.”1

It is sad that parents expect their kids to know so much secular information, but they assume that biblical matters and doctrine are too lofty for them to learn about at a young age. For some strange reason, parents often think that a child can handle math, algebra, biology, chemistry, and etc…, but they seem to always be too young to for the deeper things of God. This is nonsense, and definitely not true.

Our kids memorized and learned over 50 questions of the Shorter Catechism in only 6 months. The actual time spent in catechism is only five to eight minutes, four to five days per week. But, what an impact those few minutes will have in their lives!

Continuing through the catechism helps us to move through biblical concepts without getting stuck on the same ones for too long or not getting to others at all.

One father, that I gave a copy of Sinclair’s family devotion book, Big Book of Questions and Answers, to told me that he mainly just told his kids about Moses and Noah before I gave him the book. This might be an extreme example, but I believe many well-meaning Christian parents are guilty of something very similar. Often, they know they should do something, but don’t know where to start. Then, once they start, they run out of material quickly because they were just relying on some of the lessons that they thought their kids would enjoy. However, this is not the case with a parent who is teaching through a catechism.

Teaching a catechism helps a parent to provide a nutrient-rich, well-balanced diet of biblical truth. It also takes all the stress out of wondering what to teach the children. The catechisms are already structured and well-planned. Much thought by some great men of God have gone into creating catechisms like the Shorter Catechism. So, instead of spending so much time on wondering what to teach a child, a parent can, with the ease of clicking print, begin catechizing their children.

Catechism, a key part of family worship

A catechism is extremely simple to teach, memorize, and review. Ask my kids what they learned in Sunday School last year, and sadly, they will have no clue. Ask them to repeat the catechism, and you’ll get an earful. It really works.

This method was used in the earliest centuries, lost, and revived in the 16th century by the Protestant Reformers. Luther, Calvin, and Bullinger all wrote catechisms. Later the Westminster Confession of Faith was written by the collection of the Westminster Divines and became the most common catechism. Even later, as Baptists realized the power of a catechism, they wrote their own London Baptist Confession of 1689.

All of this was done as a measure to instill doctrine into believers and it worked. Hopefully, we will once again realize that it has worked and still will work if we get back to it.

In 1928, the Presbyterian Church had 17,000 youth who had memorized the Shorter Catechism and had their names published in the Christian Observer.1

It has been done by hundreds of thousands of young people, and today’s child is no different. It is truly not whether a child can learn this type of information, but today it is more about whether a parent is willing to teach it.

References

1. Terry L. Johnson, The Family Worship Book: A Resource Book for Family Devotions (Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), 11.

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My New Experience with Family Worship

My New Experience with Family Worship

My New Experience with Family Worship
God has blessed me with a wonderful wife and 4 children. Until I read the assigned readings for a class I took in seminary (Give Praise to God, The Family Worship Book, and The Big Book of Questions & Answers), I believed I was accomplishing the task of bringing my family up in the faith.

While I had been incorporating aspects of family worship in my home, there was not a clear or consistent plan of action. My children have memorized the Apostles’ Creed, much of the Shorter Catechism, and I would pray with them individually before bed, and sometimes read various passages. Much of this was done with each one of them individually here and there, but not all together. Often, I attempted to accomplish this while putting them to bed. However, many days efforts were minimized to just a brief prayer.

After learning about family worship, I was stricken with the conviction that my efforts, while noble, were glaringly insufficient. My eyes were opened to the opportunity that was before me every day, at my own house, to shape the spiritual life of my family. I began to realize that every day I go off to my office at church to prepare to meet the spiritual needs of many others while neglecting the spiritual needs of my own family.

Much work and contemplation is done to assure that those under my care are being fed as they should be. However, I had not put nearly as much thought behind the feeding of the sheep that were under my very own roof.

This caused me to make some immediate changes. No longer do I wait until we are tired and try to accomplish a rushed, and random, devotion. Instead, we now gather together in the mornings as a family and start our day off with an organized time of family worship.

This has been, and I’m sure it will continue to be, one of the highlights of my ministry. There is something so special about this time together with just our family focusing on God together that is almost indescribable. It has become one of the greatest joys of each day.

Now, we have family worship five mornings per week. We begin with a time of worship. We listen to a few worship songs as we eat breakfast.

The worship music has been a wonderful way to get songs into our minds for the morning and even the rest of the day. We find ourselves naturally singing along with the songs, or contemplating the lyrics.

As breakfast ends, we put things away, and get out our family worship material, this includes a Bible, the children’s Catechism, The Big Book of Questions and Answers, and a copy of the Apostle’s Creed.

After the time of worship songs, we open in prayer. I, then, proceed to go through a page in The Big Book of Questions and Answers.

Next, we spend time on the Apostle’s Creed or the Shorter Catechism. When going over the Catechism some days we review the questions they already know, and some days I move on to a couple that they have not learned yet, in order that they may begin to memorize them, as well. We then end in a time of prayer.

Before I leave, I give them an activity to accomplish pertaining to the lesson that day. I have opted for something to be done each day on a regular page of printer paper. They are asked to depict an event that happened in the text, write a verse, or create a visual aid to explain the lesson. My kids greatly enjoy this task.

I give them the assignment and then when I come home from work, they are excited to show me what they have created. We do mix things up a from time-to-time. Some days, we will just do a reading from the Bible, emphasize a specific doctrine, or go over verses that we have memorized. Usually one day a week, we will even go over the previous week’s sermon together. This lets them know that I expect them to listen in church and it allows me a time to drive Sunday’s sermon into their hearts and minds even further.

This time together with my family worshiping God has been wonderful. This is a discipline that, unfortunately, I was never taught or had I been challenged to incorporate until recently. However, now I see it as one of the most important lessons that I have ever learned.

The Christian education of my children is my responsibility. As Ligon Duncan writes, “It (the family) is designed by God to be a spiritual entity and to provide for the training up of children into mature adult character.”

References

1. Ferguson, Sinclair B. The Big Book of Questions & Answers. Tain, Ross-shire: Christian Focus, 1997.“
2. James Montgomery Boice et al., Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship: Celebrating the Legacy of James Montgomery Boice (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2003), 318.

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Obstacles to Family Worship: 9. Creation of Sunday School

Obstacles to Family Worship

9. Creation of Sunday School

Obstacles to Family Worship: 9. Creation of Sunday School

Instead of giving God a prominent place in our families’ daily lives, it seems that thoughts of God and learning about God have been isolated to only Sundays. As stated earlier, any training in the things of God has been consigned to the responsibility of churches rather than that of parents.

“During the 19th century as Sunday Schools began to be introduced in North America, resistance was encountered . . . Their argument? That as the Sunday school was established, it would result in parental neglect of their responsibility for the spiritual training of their children.”1

Terry Johnson, in his book on family worship, goes on to say that if the “meetings have caused the neglect of daily family worship then the net spiritual effect of those meetings has been negative.”2

“Protestantism has become all but silent on the issue of family worship, a near-universal practice in the recent past, and replaced it with meetings that take us out of the home and away from the family. Not only have we given up a proven method of transmitting the faith to the next generation, one that has a built-in format for Bible study, prayer, and singing, but we have done so for alternatives that add to our already hectic pace of life and take us away from our spouses, children and neighbors.”3

Can you imagine standing from the pulpit and saying: “Sunday school has had a negative impact on our congregation?”

It would be extremely difficult to remove Sunday school from most of our churches, and with the lack of parents who lead their families in daily family worship, the results could be catastrophic.

However, churches must try to see that Sunday school attendance is not the “end game.”; It can be good, but spiritual growth in the family does need to be a family and parental matter. Churches must train families on what family worship is and emphasize the need for it.

References

1. Terry L. Johnson, The Family Worship Book: A Resource Book for Family Devotions (Fearn, Ross-shire, Great Britain: Christian Focus Publications, 1998), 8.
2. Ibid., 9.
3. James Montgomery Boice et al., Give Praise to God: A Vision for Reforming Worship: Celebrating the Legacy of James Montgomery Boice (Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R Pub., 2003), 335.

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Obstacles to Family Worship: 8. Churches Are Not Emphasizing Family Worship

Obstacles to Family Worship

8. Churches Are Not Emphasizing Family Worship

Obstacles to Family Worship: 8. Churches Are Not Emphasizing Family Worship

Even though I have grown up in church and have been in ministry for 22 years, I had never heard of taking family worship this serious or being this consistent with it until studying the subject in seminary. This concept seems to be almost completely forgotten and neglected today. Not only has it been neglected and forgotten by family leaders, but church leaders, as well.

I have never heard family worship taught nor emphasized at any church that I have been involved in. Previous to being in local ministry, I traveled with a parachurch ministry for 15 years and worked with over 30 churches each year. Unfortunately, not in one single church did I ever encounter a teaching, a plan, or an emphasis on family worship.

I am amazed that something that was once considered crucial and foundational, later became peripheral, and now seems to have virtually vanished from our churches.

Parents have completely surrendered the reigns of spiritual development of their children, and sadly the churches have not called on the parents to take them back. Now, the only way that most Christians believe they can be fed spiritually is to enter into a church building on Sunday mornings.

Churches must cast the responsibility back to the individual and the family. Churches must promote family worship and make it common place, once again.



Obstacles to Family Worship: 7. Reliance on the Church Only

Obstacles to Family Worship:

7. Reliance on the Church Only

Obstacles to Family Worship: 7. Reliance on the Church Only

Many families have given huge parts of their children’s upbringing to others. Education is now something that the state oversees. Many parents are, for the most part, hands-off in the education of their children. Unfortunately, their children’s spiritual growth is often treated the same way. They have consigned the church to oversee their children’s spiritual education.

Sadly, parents have become people who make money to support a family, but the other roles of education and the things of God are divvied out to others.

The concept of family worship is that the parents, not the church, are the first and primary ones in charge of training a child up in the ways of the Lord.

The church should play a role, but it was never designed to be the only place. The home was the primary training ground long before there was ever a church building.

This home training ground must be reclaimed.



Obstacles to Family Worship: 6. Dumbing Down of Christianity

Obstacles to Family Worship

6. Dumbing Down of Christianity

Dumbing downthe deliberate diminishment of the intellectual level of the content of schooling and education.

Obstacles to Family Worship: 6. Dumbing Down of Christianity

The “Downgrade Controversy” of Charles Spurgeon’s day only seems to have gotten worse. All the precious doctrines of Christianity and all the wealth of the 66 books of the Bible often seems to be thought of as not important. All the details and doctrine of the Christian faith seem to have been reduced to an extreme minimum. So much so that the question becomes: “How small can the core of Christianity become and yet still contain enough information to be considered viable for true faith?”

Dumbing down and reducing Christianity causes believers to become lazy students of God’s Word. Before long, Christians assume they know all there is to know about the Bible even though they have only barely scratched the surface.

Christianity is not just a mystical religion that is based on feelings and the unknown. It does contain faith, but not a blind faith. It is rooted in faith and facts. Christianity does involve the intellect. It is the duty of ministers and parents to teach sound doctrine and the full council of God.

The amount of material that needs to be taught to our children will never be accomplished by one lesson per week in a Sunday School Class. Even two hours in church per week is really only about 20 minutes of actual Bible Study, at best.

Schools would not pass a child to the next level who only spent 20 minutes a week studying a textbook. Yet, for some reason, many Christians believe this is all it takes to learn everything there is to know about Christianity.

Timothy was Paul’s right-hand man. He had been raised with a great knowledge of the Word, yet Paul tells him, “Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. . . Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:13, 15-16).

Learning scripture is no small task. It should not be dumbed down just because ministers or parents have become lazy in the teaching of it.

The Bible remains a large book that requires serious study in order to truly learn its content. Churches and parents must teach the whole Word of God to ensure the well-balanced diet that brings spiritual maturity.

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Obstacles to Family Worship: 5. Minimalistic Attitude

Obstacles to Family Worship

5. Minimalistic Attitude

Obstacles to Family Worship: 5. Minimalistic Attitude

The minimalistic attitude that many take at school or the workplace often invades their relationship with God, as well. The attitude is often “What is the least I can do and still be considered a Christian.”

When people begin to get this type of mindset, then Sunday Morning attendance a couple of times each month is all they are out to accomplish. For families who have drifted to this minimalistic attitude of Christianity, daily family worship seems far too extreme, something reserved for a family of missionaries in Pakistan, maybe.

Instead of thinking this way we must, as Peter commanded, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Peter 2:2).

Only by steadily feeding on the Word do we grow into mature believers. Parents must practice this before their children. This daily practice will model for their children what it is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27).

Christian parents should always be striving and pushing forward in Christianity. Parents must exert great effort to keep God first in their personal lives and in the life of their children.

When daily family worship is established in a home, children learn that Christianity is much more than something that they do on Sunday. They witness the importance of making God a priority every day. There is no place better for this lesson to be learned than in the home.

Children are patterning their lives after their parents. When they see mom and/or dad running the Christian race with all their might, it causes them to want to do the same.

Nothing is ever gained by having a minimalistic attitude, and so it is with doctrine and Christian education.



Obstacles to Family Worship: 4. Priorities

Obstacles to Family Worship

4. Priorities

Obstacles to Family Worship: 4. Priorities

We always have time for what we believe is most important. Unfortunately, the daily worship of God is not at the top many families lists. Sadly, other far more insignificant matters seem to occupy our days.

Families often claim to have no time for family worship, however, it is truly not an issue of time, but an issue of importance. What we view as most important does get done each day. Families must learn to reprioritize their day with family worship time as a top priority.

Truly, the argument could be made, that it is the most important task that could be accomplished each day. That said, it should not be #10 on the list of things that must get done, but #1.

Once family worship time has been established in the mindset of everyone as a “top priority” to accomplish each day, then it begins happening. Families begin to place it at the top of their “to do” list and it gets done.

What is more important than worshiping God? What is more important than teaching your children about God? Nothing!



Obstacles to Family Worship: 3. Single-Parent Homes

Obstacles to Family Worship

3. Single-Parent Homes

Obstacles to Family Worship: 3. Single-Parent HomesIdeally, organizing family worship and implementing it would be the role of the father. However, a home with a mom and a dad present is becoming less common. This sad truth adds more stress on a family.

A single-parent home makes it more difficult for the one parent to get everyone ready for school, himself or herself ready for work, breakfast made, lunches packed, and still have time allotted for family worship. Without having family duties split between two parents, it is even more difficult to make a practice of family worship. 

Though family worship in a single-parent home is often more difficult to accomplish, this is still not a valid excuse to neglect the duty. Every effort should still be made to have family worship.

The same benefits are still to be gained from family worship in a single- or double-parent home. As with the obstacle of time management, it is vital for you to analyze your schedule and make family worship a priority for your family.

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