Over the years I have asked groups of Christian adults how many of them grew up in homes where there was regular family worship. Early on it was rare to find people (typically of my generation or older) who answered affirmatively. In recent years the number of positive responses has increased dramatically—almost exclusively with younger generations of believers. This is a hopeful and encouraging indication of biblical reformation taking place.
Regular family worship is valuable and brings many blessings to parents and children alike. Here are five benefits that I have observed.
- Regularly having planned times of reading the Bible, singing and praying together as a family helps establish a healthy spirituality in the home. When Scripture is regularly being read and discussed, when psalms, hymns and spiritual songs are regularly sung and when prayer is regularly offered to the Lord, it is not weird or even unusual to have spiritual conversations at any time. Often events, conversations and activities that inevitably occur in the course of family life naturally relate to a portion of Scripture recently read or discussed. Application of biblical teaching is more readily made when the Bible itself is frequently read together. Questions about spiritual matters don’t seem out of place when spiritual truth is regularly discussed in a family.
- Family worship is a great way for parents to evangelize and disciple their children. God places this responsibility squarely on the shoulders of parents when Scripture instructs us to bring children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). Yes, this means that parents should see to it that their children are consistently integrated into the life of a biblically healthy church and regularly under the preaching and teaching of God’s Word in that church. But it also means that parents are to be directly engaged in teaching their children the truth about God from Scripture. As Moses instructed the Israelites, “And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). Parents are responsible for spiritually training their children and regular family worship tremendously aids in that effort.
- Children can learn to worship corporately with other believers by consistently worshiping the Lord in their homes. This does not mean that family worship will have the same formality of church worship but it does mean parents can show children the importance of being attentive and reverent when God’s Word is being read, when praise is being offered to Him in song and when He is being addressed in prayer. Reverence and attentiveness are learned traits and wise parents know that their children will not naturally acquire them. It is much easier to teach children how and why to be reverent in the Lord’s Day gatherings of the church if those same lessons are being reinforced in the familiar surroundings of the home throughout the week. As a pastor I am always encouraged when I see parents taking this responsibility seriously because I know that their children are being taught to worship the living God.
- Regular family worship provides parents natural opportunities to encourage their children to talk about their inner spiritual lives. “What does this Scripture mean for us today?” “How should we respond to what God says?” “Do you really believe this?” Such questions can be thoughtfully and disarmingly asked at such times. Parents can model how to respond to God’s Word by offering their own honest answers. As children see their parents depending on God’s grace, humbly confessing sin and hopefully trusting in Christ, they will be encouraged to express their own inner thoughts, fears, hopes and desires. They will also learn how to ask for prayer and to pray for others.
- Regular family worship provides an opportunity to testify to the truth and power of the gospel to guests in your home. When showing hospitality neighbors, friends or family, the regular rhythms of family worship should not be abandoned. If it is an established pattern in your home, then it will be natural to engage in it even with guests present. This should be handled wisely and humbly so as not to come across in a self-righteous or condemning way. A simple question can often suffice to avoid this. “We normally take a few minutes at this time to read the Bible, sing and pray as a family. Would you mind if we do that together?” When families regularly worship God in the home and regularly practice hospitality, this opportunity will regularly present itself.
These are five benefits of family worship that I have seen and experienced over the years. What others would you add to the list?