Three Main Steps to Starting Family Worship

Here they are:

  1. Plan to have family worship after an evening meal
  2. Read through a good book (like this one)
  3. Say the Lord’s prayer after reading the book

Now for the more full explanation. When I first discovered the tradition of family worship, it was a real breakthrough for me and my family. Although it took a while to get past the awkwardness of the moment, since we had not done this before, it is well worth the effort. But to start off, we need to keep it very simple.

I have discovered that men who have not lead their families this way are generally uncomfortable with starting this out. Two things usually stand out as concerns: 1) they do not pray well, and 2) they cannot explain the Bible well. So my advice for starting this tradition deals with those specific objections, and makes things as simple as possible.

First, plan to have family worship after the evening meal. It is usually the best time to accomplish this because everyone is settling down for the evening. If you do not eat together as a family, then start doing it. If you want to pick one night, pick Saturday night to start, and that way you are connecting your Saturday evening into your Sunday worship. As you do this, you can expand to other nights. But as you begin, do not do it every night. You are setting yourself up for failure.

Second, read through a good book. My suggestion is the Jesus Storybook Bible. We read through this book as a family, and I love it. Guess what…so did my kids! The great thing about this book is it explains stuff. So this will take away the initial worry of trying to explain a Bible passage that you do not understand. And as you read this, your kids will start asking you to read it after every meal, not just the Saturday evening meal! They will want to finish that book and go on to more books. After the Jesus Storybook Bible, try The Big Picture Story Bible and The Child’s Story Bible.

Third, once you finish reading the book, say the Lord’s Prayer together as a family. Make sure you say it the same way (i.e., debts or trespasses), but just say the Lord’s Prayer. Overtime, you can add to this, but in my opinion, this is the best way to start at first.

So here you go: after you finish your Saturday evening meal, pull the book out, say you are going to read a short chapter about the Bible to get everyone ready for worship on Sunday. Read it. Pray the Lord’s Prayer as a family.

As you advance at this, you can add more to it. I noticed that Tim Challies pointed to a website with lots of resources. Joel Beeke has a short booklet on this topic, and Terry Johnson’s book on the subject is very good and comprehensive; he will direct you to other resources as well. But whether you are starting out or have been doing this for a while, don’t make it into a burden. You will defeat your purpose if you treat this as a strict discipline. Your kids need to enjoy this, and if you include them and keep it simple at first, they will help you build it into more.

21 thoughts on “Three Main Steps to Starting Family Worship”

  1. I would add that it is an excellent idea to be prepared. It is not required, but you can get over the awkwardness easier with preparation.

    I would also say not to avoid the hard stuff. I find it is best to respond with I don’t know/understand and find out later than to avoid it. This helps the kids to understand that we don’t know everything.

    Lastly, don’t be intimidated by visitors/activities. We’ve done family worship many times on the way home in the van. We also do it if people are over (which is less often, and does have an awkwardness to itself).

  2. After trying different books and failing in the family worship, we went back to the tried and true – the Bible itself. We have a 9 yr old and a 6 yr old, and reading God’s word has been far more enlightening to us than any book. We search high and low for resources to teach our kids various concepts, when just reading through the Bible will cover everything and more. You would think they would find it dry, but God’s word is living and they love it. We have so gotten away from expository teaching in the modern evangelical church, and we have taken the concept home. If you happen to be Spurgeon, teach topically. For all else, lets stick to chapter by chapter, verse by verse. You dont have to go in depth to really grow – read it and explain what you can where necessary. We are doing John, then the rest of the NT save Revelation (for now) and it should take 6 months. Thx!

  3. James… thank you for graciously linking my recent Blog post in yours.
    I knew there was a need to talk about this with the parents I serve, but I was amazed at the response by people! I posted my blog after researching the issue and have been overwhelmed by the response to it. I recently updated it with a downloadable PDF of the information that is easier to read. Just visit the original post and it is right at the top. http://ibcparents.wordpress.com/2009/01/13/creating-a-family-worship-time-a-compilation-of-resources/

    I pray it is helpful to the Kingdom.

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