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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Stop Explaining the Liturgy!​

Most of you know that liturgy is a favorite topic of mine. Over the past few years, I’ve read numerous books, engaged in hundreds of conversations, and worked hard to craft Christ-centered liturgies for the church I pastor, Lake Wylie Baptist.

It may come as a shock, then, to see a blog post exhorting you to stop explaining the liturgy, but let me explain. By the title, I do not imply that ministers ought not to talk with one another about liturgy. Here’s what I mean:

Stop explaining what’s happening while the liturgy is happening. Stop acting as the narrator or expositor of the liturgy when it’s in progress. Stop MC’ing the service every single week. Nothing bores a congregation more than to be treated like toddlers and have a minister give a comprehensive explanation of every element of the worship service.

  • Instead of saying, “Now we will sing…” just sing.
  • Stop saying, “We will now observe the public reading of Scripture,” and just read the passage in power.

I know what you’re thinking. “But I want the congregation to understand what we’re doing!” Yes, yes. I do too. This is why I do the hard work of making sure the liturgy is Christ-centered, thoughtful, and sincere (to the best of my ability) so that they can come in and simply put their feet on the pedals and ride.

In his philosophy of worship for Bethlehem, John Piper placed the highest priority on the vertical focus of Lord’s Day worship. In describing that priority, Dr. Piper sought to remove horizontal intrusions between vertical acts.”

Piper encourages pastors to cut out anything that disrupts the “flow [of the people] in a sustained godwardness and vertical attentiveness.”

Worship is about movement. God > Man > Christ > Response. Move. Move. Move. Every time you interject exposition of an element of the service movement stops. When Isaiah caught a vision of the Lord on the throne, the seraphim didn’t stop their antiphonal chant to exposit the meaning of “holy” for Isaiah. That would have broken his gaze upon the Lord. He was in the temple. He could see it. There’s a time and place to explain holiness. Do it in a sermon. But be very selective of when to interrupt the vertical gaze of the congregation

Imagine having your best friends over for a meal. You prep the meal with intensity, care, and an eye towards the beauty of the presentation. The friends gather around the table, grab a fork, but before they take the first bite of salad, you stop and begin explaining why you arranged the tomatoes next to the peppers. Then, as the fork moves to the chicken, you give them a small lecture on why the chicken is the centerpiece of the salad.  Do you see where this is going? None of us want meals explained. We just want to eat them. We just want to taste and see.

This is not to say that you should never explain the liturgy to the church. You should. I’m simply advocating that you don’t do it every Sunday between every element. Work for sustained vertical attention.

This post is being filed under “If I Were a Pastor.” I intend these posts to speak to brother pastors who are seeking to reform their church. Whether it’s liturgy, ecclesiological practices, preaching or some other topic, these posts will be fairly unfiltered comments about how we’ve done things at LWBC. Feel free to dialogue with me, I’d love to share my foolishness and maybe even some wisdom.