A Spoonful Of Insight: Family Worship Part 4

By: Mark Baker

In a previous post, I outlined the three basic elements of family worship: Read, Pray, Sing. This final post in the Family Worship series will detail two other suggestions for a fruitful and substantive family worship experience.

Memorize:

Scripture memory can be a wonderful way for families to center their hearts on the Word. Fighter Verses, a program designed to help Christians memorize Scripture, explains, “Memorization works on our hearts to cultivate Christ-like character, it helps us to resist temptation, and it enhances our prayer and worship. Here are a few more reasons—straight from Scripture. Memorizing …

  • Is one of the most effective ways to “meditate” on the Word of God “day and night” (Joshua 1:8).
  • Helps us treasure God’s Word in our hearts that we might not sin against him (Psalm 119:11).
  • Allows us to meditate on the Lord in the “night watches” (Psalm 63:6) so that we can regard all his ways (Psalm 119:15).
  • Helps us in evangelism making the Word of truth readily available to build our own and others’ faith—since “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).”

Family worship can be the perfect time to rehearse the weekly memory verse and review previous verses. From my experience, if you say your memory verse once a day, you will have it memorized by the end of the week.

Catechize:

One of my favorite classroom activities at the school where I teach is intentionally “stumping” the students. I love asking really difficult theological questions just to see how they wrestle with the ideas. They will wrinkle their brows and toss around many ideas while trying to figure out the answer. Sometimes they will have some bright thoughts, while other times they will come up with some down-right silly ideas! Throughout this process I have noticed one common trend: whenever a student begins to articulate a truly profound idea, he begins by saying, “Remember the catechism we learned a few years ago that says…” Memorizing a catechism is a very simple way to become familiar with the truths of the gospel.

Depending on your background, catechisms may seem strange or foreign to you. Even though you may not have grown up memorizing them, if you give it a try, you will soon find that a catechism is simply a 100-word road-map to right-thinking. Here are some resources to help you get started:

Books

  • Training Hearts, Teaching Minds: Family Devotions Based on the Shorter Catechism by Starr Meade
  • Grounded in the Gospel: Building Believers the Old-Fashioned Way by J.I. Packer and Gary A Parrett

Videos

  • Watch Michael Horton on the benefits of catechesis.
  • Heidelberg Catechism Rap:

Just in case if you missed it here is the whole series on family worship.

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A Spoonful Of Insight: Family Worship Part 3

By: Mark Baker

Read, Pray, Sing

In the last post I briefly outlined a helpful structure for family worship through three simple actions: reading, praying and singing. This installment will expand on each of these three elements.

Read

The purpose of family worship is to gather together as a family to glorify God. What better way to glorify God than to do it by being saturated in the Scriptures? Create a Bible reading plan where you work your way through Psalms, Proverbs or the New Testament. Depending on the age of your children, you may want to read one third or one half of a chapter. As your children get older, one way to help engage them in conversation is to ask them to choose one verse that they will explain to you and one verse that you will explain to them. This will keep them paying attention as well as allowing them to verbally process the easier verses and to understand the harder verses with greater clarity.

While secondary literature should never replace the Bible, it can prove to be a helpful and enjoyable supplement. Here is a list to help you get started:

  • The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name by Sally Lloyd-Jones. (0-4 years)
  • The Children’s Story Bible by Catherine Vos. (4-10 years)
  • Big Truths for Young Hearts by Bruce Ware. (8-up)

Pray

Prayer is the natural response to reading the Word. Your prayer time is a wonderful opportunity for your children to learn how to pray by hearing you pray and by praying themselves. Try to pray about what you have just read from in the Scriptures. You also may want to include praying for your pastor, friends and family, missionaries and the persecuted church.

  • Voice of the Martyrs is a wonderful (and free!) resource for learning how to pray for the persecuted church.
  • Operation World is a helpful resource that lists specific gospel-oriented prayer needs for every country in the world.

Sing

I have recently gained a new appreciation for worship through song. We are currently singing through the Psalms at the school where I teach. Though I cannot carry a tune in a bucket, sometimes I am required to lead a class or even the entire school in a cappella singing. If there were ever a group of off tune singers, it would be my class when I lead! But I have experienced fresh waves of joy in Jesus and fresh understanding of the Scriptures as I have lifted up my voice in song to the Lord.

It is easy to compile a simple family song book. If your church prints song lyrics in the bulletin, collect several of the extras and put them in a notebook. You might also be able to get your hands on some old hymnals if you so desire.

Conclusion

If this post makes you feel like you are drinking from a fire hydrant, then stop and take a deep breath! You will obviously not be able to incorporate every suggestion into your own time of family worship. Keep these three points as general guidelines for all that you do in family worship: brevity, regularity and flexibility. Remember the goal is not to legalistically accomplish a task, but to glorify God by gathering together as a family to worship on a regular basis.

A Spoonful Of Insight: Family Worship Part 2

By: Mark Baker

Jonathan Edwards is one of my heroes. He was the greatest mind America has ever produced. He also shepherded some of the most significant revival and awakening our nation has ever experienced. He preached America’s most famous sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God,” yet he cherished God’s promises about heaven just as much as he trembled when thinking about hell. He was elected as president of one of America’s most prestigious universities and seminaries and served as a missionary to the Native Americans.

This is a pretty amazing resume’. Significant as these achievements are, however, they fail in comparison to Edwards’ most important accomplishment: he was the spiritual leader of his family. Edwards famously said, “Every Christian family out to be as it were a little church.” At one time, Edwards lost his job as pastor in his home town. Though his pastorate could be terminated, he knew that he was commissioned to be head of his family for life. It follows that all of Edwards’ children who survived until adulthood either became gospel ministers or married a gospel minister. None ever denied the faith.

You may never steward a great revival or be elected seminary president. But you can lead your family the way God has called you to. A vital part of this leadership is found in the discipline of family worship. With this in mind, I will now cover the basics of family worship by answering some frequently asked questions.

Who should be present during family worship?

Everyone who lives in your house should be present. Your family may comprise of yourself and your spouse, or you may have a room-full. Either way, encourage everyone to participate in this important spiritual discipline. If you have guests or visitors, invite them to attend as well. I once stayed with a family I barely knew while attending a week-long seminary class. Every night they invited me to worship with their family. I found it to be a richly rewarding experience and grew to know the family much better as a result.

When should we do family worship?

Schedule your time based on what works best for your family. Some might prefer mornings; others might prefer dinner time or before bed. My family currently has a very hectic schedule. I usually leave the house before my wife and children are awake, and we are often forced to eat quick dinners at home or on the road. We have found that bedtime provides the best and most consistent time.  

How often should we do family worship? How long should family worship last?

There are two viable options for these questions. (1) Your family could enjoy one extended time of family worship once a week. (2) Your family could spend a shorter amount of time every day. My family has tried both and we favor option 2. We have found strength in the consistency of an everyday routine. Additionally, if you chose option 1 and miss a day of family worship, you will have gone two weeks without gathering as a family to worship.

If you choose option 1, you will probably want to schedule your family worship for about an hour. If you chose option 2, think more along the lines of ten minutes a day. If you have children under the age of two, maybe even less time. The goal is to gather together as a family to glorify God without causing the time-frame to become an unnecessary burden.  Obviously these options are merely guidelines, and families should avoid legalism concerning these options.

Who should lead family worship?

Scripture is clear that the husband is the head of the family (Ephesians 5:22-6:4). If at all possible the husband should serve the family by leading in this capacity. If there are extenuating circumstances where the husband is absent or not a believer, then the wife may lead.

What should we do during family worship?

In brief, there are three essential elements to family worship: reading, praying and singing. The next installment of this series will cover each of these elements.

A Spoonful Of Insight: Family Worship Part 1

For the month of January, I thought it would be really fun to explore the idea of family worship. I’ve asked my husband, Mark, who has recently taken a number of seminary classes on family worship to come and explain some of the basics for us. I hope this series of post gives you fresh ideas as well as encouragement in your praise to God as a family.

What is Family Worship?

By Mark Baker

I have recently been learning about a spiritual discipline that is of the utmost importance for the church. It was a discipline so valuable that our fathers in the faith who penned the Westminster Confession authorized church discipline on anyone who refused to participate in it. It was of this discipline that Matthew Henry, the famous Puritan commentator said, “Here the reformation must begin.” It is the discipline of family worship.

Family worship is the act of assembling the family unit together for the purpose of intentionally giving praise and glory to God. Deuteronomy 6:7 commands fathers to teach the commandments of God “diligently to your children, and… 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.” While family worship will not be the only time the ways of God are taught in the home, it should be the foundation from which all other instruction can be given.

The Puritans even described the routine of family worship as similar to “Jacob’s Ladder” in Genesis 28. Jacob had an encounter with God where he saw angels ascending and descending to and from heaven. After the encounter, Jacob exclaimed, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it… How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven” (Genesis 28:16-17). What did the Puritans see in family worship that could cause them to equate it with the very gateway between heaven and earth? This series of blog posts will explore the “what” and “how” of family worship, that our families might be able to see and savor the goodness of God in the place of the home.