[Next Generation] Practical tips for consistent family worship time

One of the most important gifts you can give your family is to help them know how to spend time with God. Before my wife, Rose, and I had children, we visited some friends, Michael and Allison Pettiette, who had one child, a toddler who is now a teen with three siblings. During that visit, they invited us to join them during their family worship time. They read a Bible story to their daughter, sang songs about God, and prayed together. Rose and I decided in that moment that we would adopt that practice into our family structure once we had kids. Unfortunately, we cannot do anything to guarantee our children will grow into people who love Jesus and honor him with every step. However, the Bible commands parents to do certain things that will glorify God, help our families, and make that outcome more likely. 

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (CSB) says, 

“Listen, Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one., Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead., Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your city gates.”

Any family with members of any age can commit to worshipping together. This does not take the place of our personal devotion and time with God. It simply provides a structured time for parents to accomplish the commands in the verses above and others like them. 

Here are some practical tips to help you have a consistent family worship time: 

  1. Prioritize It – You might not be able to worship together daily but commit to do it regularly. Find a time that works best for your family. My wife, son (age 12), daughter (age 7), and I are usually all home around bedtime. We typically worship together around 8:00 pm, but we are flexible and try to find a time when we can all be together. If we have company, we often invite them to join us. We are not rigid about doing it daily. For example, if we just returned home from church or small group, then we do usually skip that night. We typically spend about 15 minutes together, but there have definitely been nights when we sent everyone to their rooms. We live in a real world where things do not always work out the way we want them to. However, we do prioritize making it a healthy and consistent habit for our family. 
  1. Structure It – Typically, our family will do some combination of the following: Read the Bible, discuss it, sing, and pray. Sometimes we watch worship music videos or do something creative. Many people use kid-friendly catechisms or other tools. We have used many different resources over the years. Some have been better and more engaging than others. Whatever you do, don’t stray from making God’s Word the center of your time together.  
  1. Make It Age Appropriate – Start when they are babies by singing songs and showing them colorful books. For toddlers, tell the same stories from a children’s Bible and sing the same songs over and over. Kids that age need repetition. As they grow older, venture away from children’s Bibles and more and more into the totality of the Bible. Ask them questions and answer their questions. You can start worshipping together as a family at any age, but if you start when the kids are small it becomes an expected and natural part of their routine. 
  1. Model It – Every child should know how to pray because they have heard their parents pray with them daily. Maybe no one taught you and you are nervous. Just talk to God. There should be no safer place than in your prayer closet or with your family. Your kids should know the importance of the Bible when they grow up because you have modeled its importance by prioritizing it. They will repeat what they hear and see. 
  1. Invite Your Children to Lead It – A small child can lead the singing, a second grader can read the passage, a pre-teen can lead the question time, and some children can do it all. As your children begin following Jesus, help develop them into young men and women who will be able to lead their families and churches one day. 
  1. Excitedly Embrace It – If you do not want to do family worship, then it will be obvious to everyone in the room. Ask God to help you find joy in worshipping with your family and teaching your kids in the way Deuteronomy 6 said above. Find a structure and tools that help you enjoy time with God and your family.  

I recently called Michael Pettiette, a deacon and preacher now living in Texas, who is still leading his family in worship almost 15 years after I first witnessed him do it. I asked him for the best advice he could give someone who plans to start doing this. He emphasized the importance of being intentional in prioritizing your children seeing you read the Bible and answering their questions. Be consistent, commit to a lifetime of worshipping together with your family. 

If you have any questions or recommendations for age-appropriate resources, feel free to contact me at pslaughter@absc.org.

This article was written by Phillip Slaughter, Baptist Collegiate Minister for Arkansas of Arkansas at Fort Smith.

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