Family Worship

One of the great holes in our discipleship today is family worship. Husbands and Wives, Fathers and Mothers ought to lead their families to adore our Heavenly Father. God has made his desire for family worship clear enough:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 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, …You shall write them on the doorposts of your house

So, what then should family worship look like? How do you do it? Stick with this next sentence:

If the command is to love the Lord with all our being, then family worship should incorporate all of the appropriate forms of worship prescribed to us in the Bible. In other words, family worship is learning to love God within the home through:

  • Reading and Listening to His Word
  • Singing His Praise
  • Confessing Our Sins and Forgiving One Another
  • Offering Prayers to Him
  • Using Our Gifts to Serve One Another

As I’ve been learning more about the subject, I want to tell you how we do this at my house. After dinner, we gather in our living room. Dad, mom, kids. My children are all 6 years old and under so my expectations on their attention spans are quite low. We shoot for 10 minutes of family worship. Within those 10 minutes, I’ll include a couple elements of worship. Sometimes I’ll read from a children’s Bible and the kids will listen. Other times (when they have the wiggles) I have them act the story out. We almost always sing and currently, I close family worship by having them repeat the Lord’s Prayer after me.

I’d love to say this happens every single night without fail. That certainly is my aspiration. But, just like your family sometimes kids are worn out and falling asleep. Sometimes dad is tired and gives in to his own weakness.

God has called me to disciple my wife and the children under my roof. He hasn’t placed that burden primarily on the church I attend. When I stand before him on the last day he won’t turn to the children’s pastor to give an account of my children’s’ discipleship. If you are a husband or father, God places that responsibility primarily on you. (Ephesians 5:22-6:4) Wives and Mothers (especially single mothers) God has given you the responsibility and will equip you with the grace to do the same in the absence of a godly man in the home.

In the coming days, I’ll write posts on trustworthy resources that I like to use, questions I’m regularly asked about the subject, and a few other odds and ends. If you don’t currently observe family worship in the home let me encourage you to turn your Bible to Deuteronomy 6 and memorize verse 4-9. Let God’s command to you sink in and transform your leadership in the home.

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First Steps: A Free Resource for Teaching Your Child Biblical Truth

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Over the years I’ve counseled many parents who want to lead their children to Jesus, and I’ve found that they have two common concerns:

  1. Does my child understand the truth?
  2. How can I know my child really believes the gospel?

Question one concerns knowledge. Your child must posses the proper concepts and truths of the faith before they can profess genuine faith in the gospel. What is sin? Who is God? Why is Jesus important? These represent the kind of questions your child needs to be able to answer.

The second question tries to dig into the heart, and it’s far more difficult to answer. Many children understand the concepts and truths of the Christian faith. But knowing the truth saves no one. James told us that even demons know who God is, but they are, nonetheless, fallen (James 2:19). Let’s make sure we don’t simply foster minds that know the gospel, but hearts that love the sacrifice of Jesus and hope in the gospel. This booklet contains a plan to address question 1: does my child know the truth?

While most parents know they need to teach Biblical truth to their children many don’t know where to begin, which truths to teach, or how to go about teaching them. In the following pages you will find an edited version of a child’s catechism. It’s a manual of basic Biblical truths in the form of questions and answers along with scriptural supports.

In my family we began using this tool in the car, at the dinner table, or even during play time. I’d ask a question from the catechism then supply the answer. Over time your child will memorize the answers and you can also use the scriptural supports for further study/discussion in God’s Word.

Remember, knowing these truths doesn’t bring anyone into the Kingdom. You are simply using this tool as a plan for transferring basic Christian doctrine into your child’s mind.

As your child begins to assimilate Biblical truth you must constantly remind them that Jesus doesn’t just call us to know him. He wants us to love him. Here are a few thoughts on aiding their heart awareness as you are instructing them in truth.

  1. Continually talk about the love of Jesus and his sacrifice for sin on the cross.
  2. Pray that the Holy Spirit convicts and leads them. It’s not your job to pile on guilt. Don’t rob the Holy Spirit of his role. Be patient and know that God’s plan/timing is better than yours.
  3. Don’t ask leading questions, or yes/no questions.
  • You don’t want to go to hell do you?
  • Don’t you want to go to heaven?
  • You know you’re a sinner, right?
  • You believe that Jesus died for you, right?

No 7 year old wants to go to hell. These questions assume the correct answers and don’t allow you to assess their heart.

  1. Realize that the new birth is internal. Salvation isn’t change in behavior. It’s the new life of God coming into our life. Many parents long for certitude of their child’s salvation, but because it’s internal you will struggle to see it at times. Don’t feel like you need to see a convincing moment of conversion.

I pray that this guide gets you started on the right track to leading your child to know the truth. I also pray you’ll trust Jesus to lead you and your child both to him. Always remember, that I’m  more than excited to meet and talk about these things with you.

Download the free resource here.

-Pastor Jonathan

 

Something Dad Taught Me

I recently spent some time counselling a father in our church whose child has some doubts and fears. He’s a great dad and wanted to know how to help his child through doubt.

How can you trust God when you don’t understand why things are happening the way they are?

That’s the question he was asking. That’s a tough question for anyone to answer. How can you learn to trust God even when it seems as if you’ll never know why he’s allowing something painful to happen to you? For me, I thought back to my own dad. Over the last 29 years my dad has always been committed to what was best for me. He’s sacrificed numerous times for my good. As a young child he constantly went out of the way to communicate his love. A few examples:

  • When leaving home dad always stopped at the door, knelt down and said, “There’s always time for hugs and kisses.” Even when he was in a hurry.
  • Dad often returned home with candy in his shirt pocket. He’d walk in the front door, catch my eyes, then tap on that pocket as if to say, “Though I was gone, I was thinking about you, and I brought you something back.”
  • As and older child and teenager dad made sure he was at every sports game I played. He ruthlessly rearranged his schedule to be present in my life.

Those are just a few examples but you get the picture. Dad worked so hard at demonstrating his love for me that even when times came where he couldn’t give me all the answers, or explain why he was or wasn’t doing something I could trust his intentions for me. He had years of loving trust built into the relationship.

There are two applications here:

  1. Parents, you are either building or destroying your child’s ability to trust you. Consistently speaking and demonstrating love and trustworthiness to your children will give them a foundation of trust in you. When the time comes and you can’t explain all your reasons to your child they’ll be able to simply take what you can explain to them and trust. You’ll be able to draw on the years of love and trust you’ve built into the relationship.
  2. Parents, you are teaching your children what God is like. If they don’t have love and trust modeled to them by their earthly parents, they won’t trust God’s love for them when he allows difficult circumstances in their lives. If, however, you’ve worked to model faithfulness– and you may just be beginning today– you can’t use it to disciple your children. When your child asks, “Why is God allowing this in my life”, you can say, “Honey, I’m not sure but you can trust him. Just like mommy or daddy have always loved you, even when you couldn’t understand it, God loves you as well. We know that because God gave us his own Son to bring us back to him. If he would do that for us, then we can trust that he loves us even when he doesn’t explain himself to us.”

Does that answer all the questions and doubts? No. This side of eternity I’m not sure anything ever will. But, it gives us hope and allows us to move forward in trust. That’s something dad taught me.