It’s Family Worship Time!
How to lead family-friendly, God-centered devotions in your home.
If ever there was a time when every house should be a house of prayer, it is now.”1
Family worship is the regular, intentional gathering as a family unit to worship God by reading Scripture, praying, singing praise, and finding ways to be involved in ministry and evangelism together. Traditionally, family worships may include a formula: read, pray, sing, and serve. 2 But there are many creative ways to do it, and every Christian family can benefit from such time every day.
Although research by the Barna Group shows that 85 percent of parents surveyed believe they are primarily responsible for the moral and spiritual development of their children, 3 among “churched” families fewer than 10 percent read the Bible, pray (other than at meals), or participate in an act of service as a family in a typical week. One out of 20 have a family worship experience outside of church in a typical month.4 Of active Adventists, 40 percent of families never have worship at home,5 27 percent have worship on a daily basis,6 and 33 percent have family worship once a week.7
While the “read, pray, sing, serve” formula is valuable, families struggling to build a worship habit needn’t feel all is lost if it doesn’t quite fall into this pattern. Simple can still be very effective.
Why Family Worship?
Children should learn to worship God in their early years so they may respect Him in their later years. They need to learn how to regard Him as their Creator, Lord, and Savior and honor Him in all they say and do. Worshipping God also brings the family closer together with each other and with God by honoring God’s Word and learning to live by it.
Family worship assists in the faith development of children by establishing faith, personal conviction, and doctrine. The home makes an excellent Bible school where children can be grounded in faith to face the humanistic, evolutionary philosophies of modern society.
According to Barna, the probability of someone accepting Christ as Savior decreases with age: 32 percent for ages 5-13; 4 percent for ages 14-18; and 6 percent for age 19 and older. 8 This makes it imperative that families do everything they can to be intentionally active in the religious upbringing of their children.
Praying over problems together in a worship setting builds confidence in the God who answers prayers. All family members have personal needs, and it’s healthy to share them openly together before the Lord. Teenagers, especially, have deep needs but are wary of expressing them for fear of being misunderstood or embarrassed. Additionally, children who learn to pray openly at home can easily transition to praying publicly in church or weekly prayer meetings as they grow up.
Finally, family worship helps us find relevant and meaningful ways to minister in church, the home, and in the world. When a family worships together, it brings the family closer and allows God to use them to bless the world.
Worship Ideas to Try
There are many creative ways to foster the best environment for family worship, and the possibilities are endless. Here are a few to try out in your home.
- Small section Bible reading. Rather than reading a whole chapter from the Bible at a time, do just a paragraph or story a day. Let all family members suggest a title to the paragraph based on its content. Let each one list some things they observe in the paragraph, such as places, people, things, special words, meanings, applications, insights, etc.
- The miracles of Christ. Study the miracle in terms of where it happened, the occasion, what happened, who was involved, and lessons and applications.
- Bible doctrine. Everyone should know the basic doctrines of the Bible and be grounded in the truth. You could find the doctrines by means of a good concordance or perhaps from a book on basic doctrines of the Bible.
- Bible book study. Select a book of the Bible appropriate for your children’s ages and have each family member read two or three verses as you go around the room.
- Major verses. This is a good method for variety. Take one verse a night for a period of time and have each individual delve into why it’s meaningful.
- Devotional books for appropriate age levels. Discernment needs to be used in selecting titles. Think about its relevance to every age group.
- Map study. The understanding of salvation can be enhanced by an awareness of biblical geography. Children might enjoy learning where certain countries, rivers, and mountains are, and what happened there.
- Pictures or videos. This is a wonderful way to interest children. Use videos that cover Bible events, or nature videos to show the greatness of God; or use videos of great heroes of faith, such as Martin Luther and John Huss. Google can help you here.
- Read or listen to short biographies of godly servants of Jesus. Missionaries, evangelists, and pastors are a few examples.
- Small groups. Groups should discuss the Bible story under consideration, then come up with practical ideas of how it applies to life today.
It Can Be Done
Be intentional about family worship on a consistent basis, remembering that something is almost always better than nothing. Make it interesting, practical, Christ-centered, relevant, and participatory for all. Pray for your children and family. Leave them in the hands of God, and He will take care of them.
There will be some common challenges along the way, but the more you show your love and commitment to Jesus, and live the ideals of the Christian life, the more your children will learn from your example. The worship experience they come to value in your home will make the greatest impression on your family.
- Ellen G. White, Testimonies for the Church (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1948), vol. 7, p. 42.
- See Acts 2:42-47. “In all of the Valuegenesis research projects, family helping projects or altruistic activities have been seen as a significant statistical factor in building both a rich and growing faith life and building loyalty to the Seventh-day Adventist Church” (Valuegenesis3 Update 4 : 5).
- George Barna, Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions: Why Children Should Be Your Church’s No. 1 Priority (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 2003), p. 77.
- Ibid., p. 78.
- S. Joseph Kidder, The Big Four: Secrets to a Thriving Church Family (Hagerstown, Md.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 2011), p. 128.
- 2009 Congregations Study for the North American Division, www.cye.org/icm/projects/reports.
- Kidder, p. 128.
- George Barna, Grow Your Church From the Outside In: Understand the Unchurched and How to Reach Them, rev. ed. (Ventura, Calif.: Regal Books, 2002), p. 45.