Family Worship 101

Family Worship 101

Family Worship 101

Family Worship 101

How will your children learn to pray? How will your children learn about the Bible? How will your children learn about salvation?

“Well, the church of course! … Right?”

While the church should play an important role in a child’s spiritual development, it is certainly not supposed to be the only place, or even the primary place, where children learn about the Lord. Would you be surprised to hear that you, the parent, are actually to be their primary Bible teachers and that your home is where they should primarily learn about the things of God? Sadly, the vast majority of Christian parents have relinquished this role to the local church. In the process, they have neglected their God-ordained personal responsibility to teach their children about God. For example, look at the commandment by God to the Israelite parents:

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. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)

As you can see, the parents were clearly assigned, by God, the responsibility of daily teaching the Word of God to their children. Such lessons were not reserved for only one day per week, and certainly not relegated over to someone else to do. The task of teaching the next generation about God was the responsibility of the parents. 

As I have shared before, I thought I was fulfilling my role as a Christian father pretty well, by saying a prayer with the kids at night, reading a verse, and making sure that they were in church every week. However, while on the campus of Ligonier Academy, in Sanford Florida, I was shaken to the core as Sinclair Ferguson pointed out how the next generation is being lost due to parental neglect. 

Long story short, after sulking for a moment, I realized that he was right and I began to immediately implement a more thorough plan to teach and equip my children with God’s Word.

There is quite a bit of liberty in how and when you would like to do this with your family, but I am going to go over how I accomplish family worship in our house. Feel free to use all of it, some of it, or create your own plan.

Our Morning Routine:

7:45-or 8:00 A.M. Breakfast

Eat breakfast with the family at one table while listening to lyrically sound worship music. 

8:00-8:15 A.M. Family Worship

As breakfast ends, I choose one of the options below. The entire time of family worship takes about 15-20 minutes.

  1. Bible Reading

Pick a book of the Bible and read through it. I will usually read about half of a chapter, and then discuss it. A good Study Bible is a valuable tool personal and family Bible study. I recommend the ESV Study Bible or the Reformation Study Bible. 

  1. Sermon Review

On this day, we go over the Sunday sermon together. This encourages everyone to pay attention, and perhaps to even take notes. Odds are, your pastor might send you his notes, if asked.

  1. Catechism

A catechism is a method of education that involves learning in a question and answer format. It was teaching that was used by the reformers to get sound theology to the masses. 

Martin Luther spent many mornings teaching his children and the neighborhood kids the Bible, but soon realized that if he wanted to reach more families, then he needed to equip the parents all across Germany. This he did by writing a catechism. 

In our home, we spent about three years learning and memorizing a catechism that has 140 questions. We would do this by learning a new one question and answer set each week or so, reviewing the prior questions and answers, and sometimes reading ahead to make them familiar with the upcoming information. Feel free to stop and elaborate on a question, to make sure that they are understanding what they are memorizing.

  1. Scripture Memory

Each week, we work on memorizing one new scripture. I choose a passage, read it, and teach on it for a moment. We then take turns trying to say the verse from memory. We also use this time take turns going over our list of previously memorized verses. You may also want to use this time to memorize the books of the Bible, the Ten Commandments, The Lord’s Prayer, and the Apostle’s Creed.

  1. Church History

There are lots of lessons that need to be learned from the Christians that came before us. Unfortunately, such information is not regularly taught accept on the seminary level. Depending on the ages of your family members, you may want to spend a few minutes reading from a Church History book designed for kids or summarize an event or great Christian of the past from a church history book. 

  1. Christian Theology

I highly recommend a systematic theology book in every Christian home. Such books are wonderful resources which will give you lots of theological points of interest to cover with your family.

  1. Bible Art

Many times, sometimes even for months on end, the kids will be assigned the task of drawing a visual aid to help them with the Bible lesson that day. Creating these visual aids is another way for the lesson to be repeated in their mind. When I come home in the afternoon, the kids are excited to show me their art.

8:15-8:20 A.M. Prayer Time

I pray, you pray, we all pray. You are teaching your children how to pray, so don’t expect too much at first. Eventually, let them contribute in small ways and let it grow from there. Have them think of something to thank God for or someone to pray to God about. Sometimes we like to end by allowing everyone to contribute a sentence or two of prayer. 

Basics of Family Worship

When: Choose a time that is most conducive with your family. For some, this is in the morning. However, if that time is too hectic, then maybe after supper could be a good alternative. 

Question: Should we do this every day? 

Answer: Our general rule that we operate by is that we may miss one day now and then, but we strive never to miss two in a row. 

Summary:

As a parent, you have a million things on your plate to accomplish. But I want to encourage you to move this one to a daily top priority. Don’t get overwhelmed by the task. Most importantly just start. Anything is better than nothing. Before you know it, family worship will become an as normal part of your family’s day as eating breakfast. 

Don’t think of this as a sprint, but a long journey of slowly but surely teaching your children about God. 
 
~ Trey Talley


Six Ways to Grow Closer to Other Christians

Six Ways to Grow Closer to Other Christians

Many professing Christians will walk into church this Sunday, smile at a few people, shake a hand or two, talk about the weather a bit, listen to a sermon, sing a few songs, and walk away believing that they have just fulfilled what it means to live in Christian community. Is this all there is, or should we be looking for more? 

The Apostle Peter addressed the Christians of his day, and us, to go far beyond merely being in the same room as one another for one hour per week. He calls believers to be deeply involved in one another’s lives. 

Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing (1 Peter 3:8-9).

In this passage, Peter gives six back-to-back instructions that we all should be striving to possesses personally, and as a local church.

  1. Unity of mind: Sometimes translated, “harmony.” It has been said, that people can only live in harmony by themselves.
    Put any two people in a room for a long enough time, and very soon they will not be in harmony. For Christians, this should not be. We must always let our unity in Christ supersede our differences. The world is a hostile place full of people who are dividing, and fighting, over all kinds of issues. Believers are to strive to live in unity, peace, and harmony with one another. As Paul writes, “Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Corinthians 13:11).
  2. Sympathy: To sympathize with another Christian is not to just be aware of other’s needs, but a deep desire that also results in taking action to help. As believers, we should make sure that no Christian is suffering alone.
    Look at the high level of sympathy which Paul exhorts the Corinthians to express, “but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together” (1 Corinthians 12:25-26).
    If you are the one suffering, let others know about it. If people don’t know, then they cannot help. 
  3. Brotherly love: While we are to honor all people, there is extra special love that we are to have with those who are in the family of God. We are commanded by God to love one another. Other Christians need the love that only other Christians can provide, and loving others is a vital part of fulfilling your purpose in life. Brotherly love cannot, and should not be confined to a building referred to as a “church.” It is a love that should be active all week long.
  4. Tender-hearted: Be sensitive to the needs of others. This is the opposite of having a hard, calloused heart. There is a dire need among Christians to open our hearts and to be sensitive towards one another.
    Is your heart tender towards Christians in your local church? Do you seek to know them and understand their hurts, pains, trials, and sufferings? As a Christian living in community with other Christians, be on the lookout for those who are needing sympathy. Those who hurt the most often hide it the best.
  5. Humble mind: Humility is considering others more important than yourself. This is the polar opposite to the way the unsaved world thinks. They put themselves first; however, you are commanded to put others first.
    Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:3-4).
  6. Do not repay evil for evil: Sadly, it appears that this command was given to those within the church. Is it possible for Christians to say bad things about a fellow Christian? Of course, and anyone reading this knows that such a thing can and does happen, but how are you to respond? Peter is very clear. We are not to repay them with evil. He had just instructed the believers to not repay non-believers with evil, and how much more forgiving, patient, and long-suffering should we be with our fellow Christians. 

Summary:

These exhortations by Peter are a punch in the gut to modern Christianity, and maybe even to you personally. Are you striving to live in Christian community with unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, a humble mind, and not returning evil for evil? 

If you have been thinking that attending church is the extent of your involvement with your fellow believers, repent and start incorporating Peter’s instructions immediately. 

Do you want to have a stronger, heathier, more intimate church? Well, it starts with you. 
~ Trey Talley


No one looks forward to suffering, especially unjust suffering, yet, if it does come your way, you need to know that how you handle it matters.

How do you handle suffering?

No one looks forward to suffering, especially unjust suffering, yet, if it does come your way, you need to know that how you handle it matters.

How do you handle suffering?

 
The challenge of Christian suffering, especially the recipient of unjust or perceived unjust suffering, has the potential to wreak havoc in our minds. No one looks forward to suffering, especially unjust suffering, yet, if it does come your way, you need to know that how you handle it matters. In fact, enduring suffering, even unjust suffering, “is a gracious thing in the sight of God.”
 
It is common for Christians to assume that if they live a righteous life they will not have to suffer in this life. However, this is simply not true.
 
What if you truly were the most righteous person on earth, would you still have to suffer? Well, this is precisely the scene that we see taking place in the opening of the book of Job.
 
And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Does Job fear God for no reason? Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand.” So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord. (Job 1:8-12) 
 
In the following passages, we read that Job suddenly had all of his wealth removed, his servants were killed, and even his children were killed. How does Job respond? We find that he remains the most blameless and upright man on the earth. Even in the face of unimaginable suffering, Job remained faithful. Some time goes by, and it happens again.
Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the Lord. And the Lord said to Satan, “From where have you come?” Satan answered the Lord and said, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil? He still holds fast his integrity, although you incited me against him to destroy him without reason.” Then Satan answered the Lord and said, “Skin for skin! All that a man has he will give for his life. But stretch out your hand and touch his bone and his flesh, and he will curse you to your face.” And the Lord said to Satan, “Behold, he is in your hand; only spare his life.”
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord and struck Job with loathsome sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took a piece of broken pottery with which to scrape himself while he sat in the ashes.
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips. (Job 2:1-10)
 
Job had lost everything and gained pain, sorrow, and suffering. His possessions, family, and health were gone. Yet he still held fast to his integrity and would not curse God.
 
The majority of the remaining chapters of Job have to do with him asking God why he is suffering and his so-called friends wrongly assuming that they knew the cause of Job’s suffering.
 
After many chapters of conversations of these four humans attempting to probe the mind of God, God answers Job. He never directly answered the question of why Job was suffering, but instead, responded by asking Job questions; questions that Job could not answer. However, every question that God asked, caused Job to see that God is sovereign and has a plan for everything, including Job’s suffering.
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:
“Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Dress for action like a man;
     I will question you, and you make it known to me.
“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
     Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!” (Job 38:1-5a)
 
Job wanted to know, “God, what did I do to deserve all of this suffering?” God answers by revealing that He is omniscient, He is omnipotent, He is in control of all things, and He did so by asking Job question after question. Every unanswerable question that God asked Job caused Job’s eyes to become more aware of the infinite gap between his mind and the mind of God.
Then Job answered the Lord and said:
“I know that you can do all things,
     and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
     things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
‘Hear, and I will speak;
     I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
     but now my eye sees you;
therefore I despise myself,
     and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:1-6)

Recap:

Job suffered immensely, yet he never learned why. He didn’t get to read the first two chapters of the book that bears his name. However, we get to see the earthly struggles of Job and through the window into the supernatural realm, we get to hear the conversation between God and Satan. As we peer into the window of heaven revealed for us in those opening chapters, let us always remember that God is sovereign even during trials, persecutions, and suffering.
 
In the end, Job’s suffering lead to him having a better understanding of God, a better understanding of himself, an even deeper faith in God, and Satan losing. May the same be said of us of us!


A daily Bible reading plan is a great way to feed on the Word of God. You should be able to complete the entire Bible in one year by reading about 15 minutes per day!

Benefits of a Daily Bible Reading Plan

A daily Bible reading plan is a great way to feed on the Word of God. You should be able to complete the entire Bible in one year by reading about 15 minutes per day!

Benefits of a Daily Bible Reading Plan

“Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)

Scripture is the Christian’s spiritual food and we all need daily nourishment. No healthy person needs to be reminded to eat daily meals (breakfast lunch, dinner) because they hunger for food. May our hunger for God and His Word exceed even our appetite for physical food!

A daily Bible reading plan is a great way to feed on the Word of God. You should be able to complete the entire Bible in one year by reading about 15 minutes per day!

Reading straight through the Bible is fine. But let’s say you want to read through the Bible in one year; if you start Genesis in January, it would be around September before you get to the New Testament! That’s OK, but it’s probably not a good idea to be completely deprived of the New Testament for eight months. A daily Bible reading plan allows you to get a good mix of both Old and New Testaments on a daily basis.

It has been said that if you do anything for more than 30 days you will have developed a habit. Reading the Bible daily is a habit to be desired by all believers. It will change your life and deepen your relationship with your Lord. By sticking to a daily Bible reading plan, it is possible to read through the entire Bible several times!

According to Peter, the apostle inspired by the Holy Spirit, we are to be growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. This cannot be accomplished if we are not regularly studying the Bible. Reading the Bible, however, we must understand is merely a means and not an end. If we are not careful, we can miss Christ and turn a Bible reading plan into a ritualistic religious activity or a check the box, task-driven endeavor. Christ and the glory of God should be our goal. Our time in the Word should be a time of sweet communion and fellowship between our Savior and us.

Paul, the apostle, wrote in his letter to the Colossians:

”Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:2-3)

If Christ is truly “our life” then He alone must be our greatest priority. This means we should be making time for Him daily, just Him and us. Daily Bible reading is one means, in which we can spend time hearing directly from our Lord.

Here are a variety of bible reading plans put together by Ligonier ministries. My personal favorite is Professor Grant Horner’s Bible Reading System!

https://www.ligonier.org/blog/bible-reading-plans/

  Jeff Patton



The Church at Pecan Creek Catechism Children

The Church at Pecan Creek’s Catechism for Children

The Church at Pecan Creek Catechism Children

The Church at Pecan Creek’s Catechism for Children

Pecan Creek's Catechism for Young Children

At The Church at Pecan Creek, we encourage active discipleship of everyone, but most especially the children. Encouraging family worship is also a priority. One method we recommend for family worship and discipling our children is using a catechism. 
 
A catechism is a method of learning that uses a question-answer method. The catechism is memorized through daily repetition. While children may not understand all the concepts within the questions or answers, they will recall these later in life as they have their own questions about theology and doctrine. 
 
In the similar way that we learn the ABCs as children not truly understanding how they will fit into what we need to know in the future, a catechism is a great primer to prepare our children for the future study of the Bible.
 
Even if you do not have children at home, memorizing this catechism may also help you understand Biblical doctrine. If you have never memorized a catechism, this would be a great place to start.
 
The Church at Pecan Creek has developed a catechism for children adapted from the Catechism for Young Children. We have amended some of the questions from the original document in order to fit within our confession of faith.
 
If you click the image of the catechism, it will take you to a page where you can download a free pdf of The Church at Pecan Creek’s Catechism for Children.
 
Below is a video of Pastor Trey Talley and his daughter, Tapanga, reviewing a few of the questions from this catechism to give you an idea in how you can incorporate this practice in your daily family worship time.
 

 



 

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As a Society Thinks, So Will it Behave

As a Society Thinks, So Will it Behave

As a Society Thinks, So Will it Behave

As a Society Thinks, So Will it BehaveA society that has removed God from their thinking should expect a people who behave as if there is no God.

Over the years, every effort has been in the public education system to reject God as the Creator, the Rule Maker, and the Ultimate Judge of every human. To add fuel to fire, parents have failed to counter this teaching in the home. As a result, the Biblical worldview has been replaced with one that teaches that everything, including humans and all life, has come about by accident and has no meaning. 

This society begins to believe that there are no rules to live by much less a final Judge. The only law that remains is pure relativism. Each person gets to decide how they want to live and no one has the right to tell them otherwise. 

The greatest proponent and educator of evolution and atheism was the largest mass murderer in history, Adolf Hitler. In a few short years, he was able to convince millions of people that whoever had the most power had the right to make the rules. As a result of his atheistic evolutionary worldview, over 13 million people were murdered. 

The point is if God is intentionally removed from a society, then we should not be surprised by a population who is immoral and ungodly. Since the God of the Bible has been rejected, our society will increasingly suffer the consequences of a population who has been taught that there is no God.

Think about this, if God and His rules for living are intentionally removed, then what makes lying, cheating, stealing, pornography, rape, or even murder wrong? 

We often think that a society that rejects God is a new thing but it is common throughout human history, and the results are always the same. 

Take for instance the people of Israel who followed Moses and then Joshua. Upon the death of Moses, God reminded them of who He is and their obligation to obey Him, along with what they could expect if they obeyed Him.

Only be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go. This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Joshua 1:7-8)

However, the generation of people that knew God died without teaching the next generation. While they themselves knew God, God’s rules, and the consequence of obedience or disobedience, they did not teach these principles to their children. Instead, they assumed that the next generation would somehow just know, but they did not. 

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 (Judges 2:10-12a).

Within one generation the Israelites went from honoring and obeying God, to a generation who did not know Him or obey him. The result? Ungodly behavior. 

The cure for a society plagued with immorality that is rooted in atheism and evolutionary teaching must begin by returning to Bible basics, such as, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth…” (Gen. 1:1). 

Belief and/or unbelief guides a person’s behavior. If we want our children to love God, obey God, and strive to live godly lives, then let us intentionally teach them about Him.



2 Examples of Family Worship

2 Examples of Family Worship

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

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

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

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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