Do you experience regular family worship? How do you do family worship? A typical breakdown in a God-centered family culture is a lack of understanding and practice of family worship. There are five essential elements to worship God well as a family.
When you think about family worship, what comes to your mind? Make a couple of mental notes before proceeding. If you ask most folks, they will say something about praying, reading, studying, and singing together. They will also talk about the challenges of having regular family worship because of the frenetic pace of their lives.
Interestingly enough, the Bible does not make a case for family worship, as understood in the way that I have described it.
You may want to read:
- The Doctrine of Repentance
- Examining Your Worship Structure With a Mind Map
- The Wisdom Of Engaging the Sin In Your Family
Prepackaged Worship Experience
If you interpret family worship as a mini-package that you incorporate into part of your day, it won’t be long before you trim it down to your commute to work or while applying your makeup.
Anytime you redefine something from how the Word of God talks about it, the diminishing process begins. Packaged family worship is one of those sub-biblical ideas that if it is part of the family dynamic at all, it is a side-item at best. Swim teams and soccer practices are more important than family worship.
What Is Worship?
Acknowledging that someone or something else is greater – worth more – and by consequence, to be obeyed, feared, and adored. Worship is the sign that in giving myself completely to someone or something, I want to be mastered by it. – Harold Best, Music Through the Eyes of Faith, p 143
Worship is the believer’s response of all that they are – mind, emotions, will, body – to what God is and says and does. – Warren Wiersbe, Real Worship, p 26
Worship of the living and true God is essentially an engagement with him on the terms that he proposes and in the way that he alone makes possible. – David Peterson, Engaging with God, p 20
Family worship has to be something more than thirty-minute meetings around the fireplace. Too many Christians have been living under self-imposed guilt for too long because they can’t make their prepackaged understanding of family worship fit within their day-to-day preferences. A clearer understanding of household worship would release them from this unnecessarily segregated contrivance.
The Worshiping Family
God wired you to worship, so any thoughts about worshiping begins in the macro rather than the micro. If you don’t start with worship as a life experience, you will aim for daily family devotions, which your pace of life will smother from your schedule eventually.
You will tack on thirty-minute family devotions, which you may be able to pull off while your children are young. But because these micro-events are not part of the family’s 24/7 experience, they will dry-up as life speeds up.
If you want your family worship experience to transform your household while lasting a lifetime, these five elements are nonnegotiable.
1 – Modeling – There are few things any person in your family could do to express their worship of God better than imitating Him. What greater thing can a son or daughter say than, “Dad, I want to be just like you because you are like Jesus.” Paul appeals to you in Ephesians 5:1 and 1 Corinthians 11:1 to imitate and follow Christ.
One of the most profound marks that I can leave on my family is my authentic example of the Christ-life through my attitude and behaviors. Though I could teach them many things out of the Bible each night, if I am not living it out before them, there is a good chance they will renounce my “hypocritical religion” when they are older.
Key Idea: The first point in family worship must be your authentic, practical, and passionate walk with God, before your family.
2 – Confession – Part of what it means to model the Christ-life before your family is the public confession of your sins before your family. As you know, you are not Christ. You sin. And I do too. What you must do to imitate (model) Christ effectively is to daily remove the sin that hinders you from that authentic imitation.
Imagine teaching your children how to be a Christian when you’re not modeling the Christian life due to your lack of acknowledging the times when you’re not in line with the gospel. My children will know that I am genuinely trying to model the life of Christ through my regular confession of sin.
Key Idea: If you are not confessing your sins to your family, they will discern that the message of Christ is optional. And they may choose to reject it, rather than receive it.
3 – Forgiveness – Tied to the humble confession of sin is consistently going to your family members and seeking their forgiveness. It is not possible to live with anyone and not sin against them. And when you do sin, there must be a resolution. If you do not do this, there will be a spiritual backlash from your family.
Unforgiven sin will take revenge on a person and his relationships. They will carry the scars and brokenness of unconfessed and unforgiven sin in their lives, for the rest of their lives.
Key Idea: It is a beautiful thing when you humbly model the power of the gospel before your family. It spreads the fame of God when you take the cross seriously by accessing its strength and applying it to your sins.
4 – Repentance – Confession is excellent. Forgiveness is fantastic. But repentance is where you authentically change. Only when you confess your sin, seek forgiveness, and repent that you can accurately model the life of Christ before your family. If you do not practice these elements, the other things you do will barely matter.
The full spectrum of the gospel is put on display when you repent. A complete transformation is the point of the gospel. Christ came to change sinners, which will happen if you repent. To worship well is to repent well, and you will make God’s name great each time you own your sin fully.
Key Idea: Repentance is turning away from your sin. If you don’t turn away, you will not change, and family worship will die a slow death.
5 – Teaching – This point is typically where most Christians begin when they think about family worship; they want to teach the Bible. I would not recommend that you start thinking about family worship as teaching, singing, and praying. There are a time and place for those things, and you must make sure you have them in their proper places. But if you are not doing the first four things, the last one may turn your kids against God and you.
Key Idea: Modeling the gospel must precede the teaching of the gospel or your teaching will sound hollow. Parental hypocrisy dismantles Christianity in the lives of their children.
Call to Action
Too often when individuals think about family worship, they talk about “micro time allotments with God” within their 24 hour day. What they rarely talk about is the comprehensive necessity of worship that incorporates the first four essential elements and the need to make lifestyle changes over the “grab God and go” mentality.
If you want to worship God in your family, then I recommend you find help to learn more about the first four things on this list, and as you are truly understanding them and are regularly living them out, you will want to incorporate singing, praying and reading your Bibles together.
If you don’t incorporate this comprehensive worship model into your family experience, your “grab God and go” practices will lose steam, only held up by a legalistic determination that is fueled by guilt.
Also published on Medium.