You may have heard other Christians talk about family worship and it’s benefits. You may even have a desire to put it into practice, to gather regularly with those in your home in order to grow in your knowledge and love for the Lord. However, if you’re like most believers just starting out, then you probably struggle with what family worship should look like on a practical level. Maybe you’ve asked questions like . . .
How long should it be? What should we do once we’re gathered together? Is family worship helpful for younger kids? How do I even get started?
A Conversation on Family Worship
These are some of the questions I posed to Matt Mason, the Senior Pastor at The Church at Brook Hills in Birmingham, AL. Matt has taught on the topic of family worship and he has put it into practice in his own home. Because family worship is such a struggle for many Christians, I asked Matt some questions that will hopefully make it feel less intimidating and so encourage you to put family worship into practice in your own home. Here’s our conversation . . .
1. To begin with the most basic question, what is your goal in family worship?
At the most basic level, the goal is to hear from God (Scripture) and talk to God (prayer).
2. If we showed up at the Mason home for family worship, what would we see?
Everybody comes into the living room. Usually, someone is asking where his (or her) Bible went. Eventually, we all sit down. We might sing at first or have some kind of Bible trivia to warm us up. Once we’re all in place, we read some Scripture (one chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New). Often we’ll split up the reading of the passage so everyone is involved, and I stop us from time to time to add a brief comment or ask a question here and there.
Then we’ll pray together. Sometimes we pray the Psalm of the given day (e.g. March 11 = Psalm 11)—each one of us taking one verse and praying from that verse (adapted this approach from Donald Whitney’s excellent resources on praying the Psalms). Other times we pass out missionary info cards we have on the fridge and pray for them, along with friends and family.
3. How often does your family gather? How long do you gather?
Most every night for about 15-25 minutes. We try to have some time in the morning when we know the night is not going to work.
4. Do you use Scripture, catechisms, or other resources? What about music?
Yes, we’ve used various resources designed for helping families get a better grasp of biblical truth. There’s so much good stuff! We’ve spent some time memorizing portions of the Westminster Shorter Catechism, used devotionals of all kinds, read various children’s Bibles, and read and talked through a kid-friendly version of Pilgrim’s Progress. We use music from time to time, most consistently along with an Advent calendar in December.
5. How does family worship look different now that your kids are older?
When the kids were really little, we’d take 10 minutes max, and we’d let them color or play with Legos while we read to them. We take more time, dig a little deeper, and call for more focus and participation.
6. For someone who’s never tried family worship, how would you encourage them to get started?
Start something simple and start tonight. Find a way to establish regular times for hearing God’s Word and praying together as a family. Don’t confuse a lack of excitement with this being a waste of time. God works through His Word and He answers prayer! Someone once defined a classic as a “book that everyone wants to have read, but no one actually reads.” I think family worship is something Christian families want to say we did back when our kids were in the house. The question is will we carve out time to do it tonight? Sow the Word. Teach them to pray. Don’t be overly formal. Have fun!