Maybe kids are home from school, you’re working from home, and the normal distractions and hustle and bustle of running 1000 different directions has stopped. For now.
Suddenly, there’s a lot more family time.
What might family worship look like in this new season and different rhythm? Here are seven ideas to help you brainstorm about what might fit you and your family.
I am not trying to lessen the importance of family in any way by trying to loosen the definition of worship to “anything goes.” However, worship is from the heart of man to the heart of God. We are not trying to impress our neighbors, we are trying to honor God and pass on the value of the worship of God and its benefits to the next generation.
Most family worship times will have the same elements – the Bible, prayer, sharing, memorization, music, but the order, the length and the way these elements are done and by whom will vary from family to family based on a bunch of factors – the make-up of the family system, the age and skills of the participants. For example, a single mother with three children under five years of age will lead the worship much differently than a two-parent family with adolescents and small children at home.
Short and Sweet
Notice, if we will speak, read and memorize the Word of God, it will guide us and keep us, and it will be of the utmost value to us. The Bible expresses to us the sweetness of the Word. Let’s do the same with our families. If we think it is a sweet gift from God, there’s a better chance that our children will grow up thinking that too.
So, when planning a family worship time, start by making it short (for families with small children, no more than 15 minutes) and make sure to make it Word-centered. Focus on a Psalm or a passage of scripture (a block of verses or short story from the Bible). Look for a key passage and one takeaway that you would like for you and your family to remember and to apply in your lives.
Also, when preparing for the worship time, keep in mind who is in the worship with you. That will help you think about your word choices. Make sure to define and explain words for children to understand. One simple model for you to use in your preparation is R.E.A.P. – Read, Examine, Apply, and Pray. Begin by just reading the passage, verse, psalm, proverb or story, and then examine it by asking some basic questions like: Who is speaking, to whom and about what? What does these Scriptures say about God, the world and about me/us? You can ask, “What is the subject or what is going on in the story (the plot, major and minor characters)? So, what does that mean to me/us? Now, what do we do now that we know? Hey, guess what; you can ask your family the same questions as you read together the Word, and your examination leads to your application. But each person may have a different application for their own life and that makes the Scriptures more personal and all the more exciting.
It’s clear in the Scriptures that the parent(s) are to lead the family spiritually, and if the husband/father is a believer, leadership falls to him. However, he can always use help. He can ask his wife for assistance as to what she thinks the family needs to hear. The husband /father can also ask the other members of the family for their ideas as well.
After choosing the Scripture(s), take time to examine the passage for key words, ideas, principles and the one takeaway you would like for the family to remember and to apply. Make it a priority by making sure to set the time and the place in the home is ready and that all the instruments for worship are there and ready. (If the husband/father is not a believer or it is a single-parent system, the wife/mother/parent is the leader.) Again, get the entire family involved by assigning one member to read the passage and another to pray or to lead in music. Assign someone to have the location ready for the worship time. These shared responsibilities can rotate through the members of the family. By the way, “More is caught than taught.” As the family sees this time is important to the parents, they will be more likely to mirror that in their lives.
Prayer is a wonderfully powerful tool that God has given His people. Certainly, it does not have to be something extremely difficult, but it does need to be done with reverence (respect for God), faith in Jesus. We are commanded, urged, requested and invited to pray to God. He must see it as an important part of our daily lives. It’s our lifeline not just our privilege. Remember, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps. 46:1).
There are many models that can help structure our prayer time. One simple method of organizing one’s prayer time is ACTS – Adoration Confession Thanksgiving Supplication (asking for supply). You can teach the kids to use the “Five-finger Prayer” guide: The thumb is for those closest to us – (family and friends), the forefinger is for teachers and mentors. The middle finger is the tallest; it is for leaders (church and government), and the ring finger is the weakest and it is for the sick, the weak, and the disenfranchised. And last, the pinkie, is prayer for ourselves. There are so many little helps out there to guide and to teach us how to pray. The Psalms is an amazing prayer book as well. One really good suggestion is to have a prayer board or box or list so that you all can track God’s answering prayers from one day to the next.
“Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing” (Psalm 100:2).
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow penned these words, “Music is the universal language of mankind.” Modern research has actually supported Longfellow’s observation with empirical findings. So, bring on the music! Ok, let’s be real; we are not all musically inclined. While some will use a variety of instruments and harmonize together like the Von Trapp family, others will choose enhance their musical expressions with recorded music and/or music videos. Still others may choose to save this portion of worship for the public arena. Please don’t let this keep you from “Serving (worshipping) the Lord with gladness. Enjoy your time with your Heavenly Father.
The Word of God is to be internalized; that’s how it becomes a part of us. The best way to do this is to learn the Word via memorization. Repetition is still one of the best ways to do memorize something. Just one verse a week is a really good goal. Choose a verse form your study or from other portions of Scripture. (HINT: Redeemer offers a memory verse each week.) Each person will repeat it together, in unison, and then have each person in the family repeat it one at a time. It’s also helpful and fun to emphasize different words in the verse each time. (HINT: You will learn verse better if you repeat it around 5 to 7 times). The next week you start with the past week’s verse and then learn the new one. You will be amazed at how much you can learn about God, the world and about yourself and your relationships in a year just by memorizing the Word together.
Some families do morning and evening family worship. That follows the model of Deuteronomy and the early Reformers, but many families can barely get one done each day. It’s your worship of God; you choose. When? Pick the time that best fits the rhythm of your lives, but make it stick. Plan it and then plan around it. Where? In a place that will comfortably seat everyone so they are on the same level (all on furniture or all on the floor), and each can see the others. Also, choose a place where distractions can best be controlled – try to minimize noises, pets, insects, the effects of the weather, etc. Ok, now go and spend time together with your Father and Lord, and Savior and Brother in Heaven.