Jonathan Edwards, perhaps the most influential Christian of the 18th-century, once wrote: “Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church.” If that’s true—and, in a way, I think it is—then it follows that a significant part of the life of each “little church” would be family worship.
I understand any reluctance you may have. The idea of “family worship” may conjure up all sorts of unappealing, cliched, and awkward images. But let’s take a moment and try and replace those stereotypes with a biblical picture.
Family worship in the Bible
While there is no Thy family shalt hold hands and sing kumbaya commandment in Scripture (at least, not one I’ve yet found), I do think that members of a home regularly gathered for worship is implied. For example:
- Moses told parents to teach their children to obey the Lord (Deuteronomy 6:4–7).
- Joshua challenged Israel to follow his family’s example to serve God as a unit (Joshua 24:15).
- Job regularly led his family in confession and worship (Job 1:4–5).
- The psalmist Asaph was certainly concerned with his family’s worship of God (Psalm 78:1–8).
- The Apostle Paul, though he didn’t have a family of his own, encouraged familial worship in Ephesians 5:21–6:4.
As one author concludes, “The Bible clearly implies that God deserves to be worshiped daily in our homes by our families.”
I’ll assume here you’re convinced or, at the very least, curious. Maybe you’d like to start worshiping as a family or improve your current home worship. Where do you start? What should be done?
Well, let’s keep it simple—read, pray, and sing.
Read the Bible together
The first thing a family should do together in worship is to read the Word of God. What you read and the amount you read will depend on your family. If you have three children under five years old, you’ll probably be drawn to more narrative passages. If it’s just you and your spouse, perhaps you can handle longer passages of more complicated books.
Whatever you decide to work through, read with vigour and excitement, pausing if necessary to explain or discuss concepts, words, and ideas together. Read it as though you’re reading the very words of God (because you are!).
Pray with and for each other
After reading a section of the Bible, pray together. This can take many forms and can change each time. Maybe mom prays. Maybe spouses take turns. Perhaps you can take prayer requests and spread them out. Again, this doesn’t have to be long, but strive for sincerity.
Sing His praises together
Okay, okay—this may be the most awkward of the three. But the benefits outweigh the short-lived awkwardness.
Remember, the Bible includes many songs (e.g., the Psalms, Exodus 15, Revelation 5), it talks about God’s people singing in worship (e.g. Colossians 3:16), and Jesus sang with his disciples (Matthew 26:30). Through song we celebrate great truths and declare our unity as we join our voices in praise.
You can sing different songs every night or let your family pick their favourites. If you’re unfamiliar with good hymns, search the internet or ask at the church for an old hymnal.
Every family looks different. Some are single-parent homes, some have one parent that isn’t a Christian, others are empty-nesters. But, with a little creativity, all three of the elements listed above can be implemented. These aren’t necessarily lengthy and earth-shatteringly deep. Keep it short and sincere.
The important thing is to start. It may be awkward at first, granted. There may be things about your time together that your kids or your spouse don’t understand. However, by creating a habit of familial worship you are declaring its importance and God’s centrality in your lives—and that’s something your family won’t forget.