I've talked a little about family worship/devotions in the past, and interviewed Tom Ascol on the subject. As our new church develops unique ministry emphases family continues to remain at the top of the list in a number of different ways. One of the simplest things we are doing is encouraging families to discover or strengthen their practice of family worship. Here are a few good reasons your family should be practicing this ancient discipline.
1. It's your job to train your children, not your church's. God gives you, the parents, the responsibility and privilege of discipling your children. Have you thought about it that way before? You are tasked with teaching your children to be the disciples of Jesus. Simply handing them over to the church for instruction, and assuming that is enough, is lazy and dangerous. It is lazy because it is a refusal to participate in one of our most important roles as parents, and dangerous because we are dealing with children whose lives hang in the balance. I want fathers to see themselves as the pastors of their families. I want parents to see their families as their most important ministry; far more important than anything else they are involved in. What I tend to find is parents who will spend hours preparing for and executing ministries in the church while giving little time and less thought to family worship.
2. It teaches parents how to talk to their kids about spiritual things. For many parents, especially new parents, talking to children about spiritual things does not come naturally. It can be awkward. Regularly gathering with your whole family to read and discuss Scripture will help you develop your communication skills, and help you better understand the truth as well. C. Ben Mitchell once suggested to me that if I cannot explain the truth to a child, I might not understand that truth very well myself.
3. It provides a regular context in which spiritual conversations take place. Not only will this force you to learn how to speak to your children, but it will give you regular opportunity to do so. Let me tell you what I have observed. Families that do not regularly gather for family worship have little opportunity for real, spiritual conversations with the kids. But those who do regularly gather for family worship not only have that time to discuss things, but wind up having other, more spontaneous conversations about spiritual things as well.
4. It allows parents to guide theological development. Your kids are theologians - right now. They have beliefs about God and probably articulate those beliefs if you listen carefully. Their theology will continue to develop over time, and their best hope for good theology is the passionate, clearly articulated, Scriptural teaching of their parents. Let me also remind you that your kids are watching you, to see if the things you teach them are the things you really believe. And when they discover that what you said about God being sovereign and good impacts the way you receive suffering and affliction, their theology will begin to blossom.
5. It prepares kids for corporate worship. Family worship is a great aid in getting your kids ready for corporate worship. It teaches them the importance and value of sitting still, listening, and truly engaging corporate worship. They learn that the Bible is holy, and worth paying attention to. They learn songs, and will enjoy singing them in church after learning them in the home. It also demonstrates the value of corporate worship itself, preventing them from thinking about worship as something private. The dominant thinking on worship that I encounter in the evangelical church today is that worship is almost exclusively a very personal/private encounter with Christ. Family worship can lead our kids to see that while worship is always personal, and we should find time to get alone with God, it is meant to be expressed and experienced in community.
Start small, be regular, make it fun, keep it simple, and lead your family in worshiping Jesus Christ for the glory of God, and the good of your home.