Parents often ask me what the one thing is they can do to ensure that their kids will love Jesus. To be clear, it’s many things. And at the same time, nothing. Because Jesus is the one who saves our kids. But if I had to pick one thing a parent can do to ensure that kids will grow in their affections for Christ, I would say family worship.
In the 1800s, Spurgeon saw the decline of family worship as gravely concerning. In an article entitled “The Kind of Religion We Need,” he wrote the following:
“We deeply want a revival of domestic religion. The Christian family was the bulwark of godliness in the days of the puritans, but in these evil times, hundreds of families of so-called Christians have no family worship, no restraint upon growing sons, and no wholesome instruction or discipline. How can we hope to see the kingdom of our Lord advance when His own disciples do not teach His gospel to their own children?
Oh, Christian men and women, be thorough in what you do and know and teach! Let your families be trained in the fear of God and be yourselves “holiness unto the Lord”; so shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.”
“So shall you stand like a rock amid the surging waves of error and ungodliness which rage around us.” This is what our kids need from us. They need us to provide a foundation that is firm in a world that is fluid.
How do we do this? How do we do family worship? I have four quick admonitions for you as you begin this task of discipling your kids through family worship.
One of the greatest mistakes parents make when doing family worship is trying to make up for lost time by taking too much time. So, parents will often try and do devotions for 30-40 minutes. Family worship should be done daily, if possible, but weekly at least. The length of time should be 10-15 minutes max.
Devotional books are fun and can add spice at times to family worship. But family worship should involve you reading a passage of Scripture to your kids. Generally, the length should be a few verses if your kids are young, to no more than a chapter. Then you should explain that passage to the best of your abilities. One book I recommend to parents to help with this is The Family Worship Guide by Joel Beeke. It gives a short summary of every chapter of the Bible. If your kids ever ask a question you don’t know the answer to, you can always ask a pastor or friend. But read and explain the Bible to your kids.
Why hymns? There are so many great modern worship songs, and I am grateful for contemporary worship. But in this setting, we are trying to sing theologically rich songs that the church has vetted throughout hundreds of years. The classic hymns that have endured have language and metaphor that paint a picture of God that is towering and majestic. We want our kids to be biblical but also theological. So, sing one hymn together in family worship. Kids will hear what you read, but they will always remember what they sing, so choose your hymns with care and purpose.
Close your time together in prayer. Again, be brief. Avoid reteaching your Bible thoughts through prayer. Involve the kids in your prayer time by teaching them to pray and modeling for them what it looks like to pray. Keep a list of prayer requests you are making and prayer requests that have been answered. Prayer is vital because it is a humble reminder that no matter how much we know about God, His Word, and His world, we need His help, power, and grace in our lives.
If your kids are small, go less than 10 minutes and do family worship after dinner or before bedtime. It may be challenging to create a new rhythm in your home, but it’s worth it.
The goal of family worship is not to guarantee that your kids will love Jesus as a result. The goal of family worship is for you to teach your kids through words and actions that Jesus is better than anything. To teach them that the goal of our life is not our happiness or comforts but the glory of God in the ordinary aspects of life. To tune our hearts to sing God’s praise in every season of life. My prayer is that your kids will grow to find Jesus more beautiful than anything this world has to offer.