Editor's note: Jason Helopoulos has also written on "The What, When, and How of Family Worship."
Worshiping together as a family was not something that began easily for us. Even as a pastor, I felt awkward in the beginning leading my family in worship (especially in singing!). However, it has now become part of our family life. No, it is more than just part—it is at the very center of what it means for us to be a family. It is a now a joy, and the moments are not so awkward as they once were. A Christian home must be centered upon Christ, and if it is centered upon Christ, then it will be filled with worship.
Most evangelical Christians are aware of the importance of secret and corporate worship, but fewer have even heard of family worship. What is family worship? It is pretty simple. Tonight, sit down with your family on the couch or at the dinner table. And then . . . pray together, read the Bible together, and sing a great hymn of the faith together. There are many reasons for doing family worship, but let us just mention a handful. Family worship:
- Glorifies and Honors God — This is the primary and essential reason.
- Centers the Home - Family worship has the wonderful effect of centering our homes upon Christ.
- Encourages Christian Character - The home may be the hardest place to live out our Christian lives. There is a reason that Paul addresses each member of the Christian family in the household passages of Ephesians 5-6 and Colossians 3. It is a sad reality that we often manifest the character of Christ more consistently at church, in the workplace, and in the community then we do in our own homes. If there is somewhere that I must especially be on guard against sin, the flesh, and our adversary, it is at home. Casualness and familiarity is a ready playing field for sin.
- Encourages Peace in the Home - We are sinners living under the same roof in tight quarters. That is a recipe for disaster or at least pain! We know our family members, and we know them well. Family worship helps us confront our sin and understand its effect upon one another. For example, it is awfully hard for a father to lead his family in worship when he has just yelled at his wife. If he is going to lead his family before the throne of grace, he will first have to ask for forgiveness from his wife. And she will find that it is hard to worship unless she willingly forgives him.
- Binds the Family Together - In our fast-moving society there are few things that a family does together daily. Even eating a meal together these days seems like a feat. What if your family gathered together daily? And what if that gathering was for worship? It would become the most important and central aspect of its life. Your entire family will come to the realization that no matter what else we do or don't do, the most important thing that marks us as a family is that we are a worshiping family submitted to Christ. And that bond is an eternal one that strengthens the family in all its other endeavors.
- Provides Common Knowledge - As the Scriptures are read together in family worship, the family grows in common knowledge. Conversations around the dinner table or in the car will change dramatically as you have a common knowledge from which to converse.
- Trains Children for Corporate Worship - Family worship provides the added benefit of training our children for corporate worship. As they sit and listen to the Word of God, hear prayers, and sing hymns these elements in corporate worship will take on a new meaning. The value of this cannot be overestimated.
- Encourages our Children in Christ - They will see that for mom and dad worship is not just something they do on Sunday mornings. It is something at the very core of their being, important enough that they center their home upon it. We are not raising children just to be moral and competent people, but worshipers of the triune God.
- Reinforces Spiritual Headship - Family worship reinforces the biblical framework of the family as it looks to the father (or the mother if she is single) as the spiritual leader of the home. As a father leads his children and wife before God's throne nightly and disciples them in the things of Christ, they will increasingly look to him for spiritual leadership. This has the added benefit of reinforcing with the father/husband the spiritual mantle that is upon his shoulders.
- Provides Systematic Discipleship - As a pastor I often have individuals approach me with a question about how to minister to their children or spouse in a specific area. Usually they are concerned about a particular sin or struggle in their family member's life. In this way we serve as firefighters rushing to extinguish this issue or that. At times this is needed, but it should not be our regular course of action. Systematic discipleship is a much better approach and is aided by family worship. Daily family worship will provide a strong foundation that is built upon hearing the Word daily, praying daily, and giving thanks daily. It takes time to build a strong house. It is an unsteady house that is the result of the carpenter running from shaky wall to shaky wall to hammer a nail in here or there.
- Provides Generational Testimony - One of the greatest benefits of family worship is the actual passing on of our faith to the next generation. We are teaching our children how to read the Scriptures, pray, confess their sins, sing unto God, and more. Our children will leave the home with memories of this daily worship. They will have learned by watching and participating how to search the Bible, intercede for their future children, and rejoice in God. And by God's grace and mercy they will carry it to the next generation of our families.
Now that we're considered the "why" of family worship, tomorrow we'll explore the "how."