What do you actually DO in family worship time?
Naturally, we should give some thought to what kind of activities could be involved in a time of Christian Family Worship/Family Time. But before we do, I think it’s important to remind ourselves of the purpose of family time. From the last post here’s how my wife and I look at it, and how we teach our kids to look at it. Family time is for…
- Keeping the family “connected” to each other through time spent together
- Intentionally seeking to better know and follow Jesus, our Savior
These two purposes should help you in identifying and choosing what exactly will be done in each Family Time…
With that said, I’ll give you some of my thoughts on what you might include in a Family Time.
Our basic family time routine
We typically set aside one night of the week to have Family Time. I know of some who try to do it every night. For our family, it simply can’t happen every night. We have teens who work and have various other activities outside the home in the evening, not to mention various church ministries, board meetings, etc. that often happen in the evenings. The point here is that it is REGULAR or CONSISTENT. Make sure that whatever you schedule for Family Time is a routine that everyone is aware of and that everyone plans on. So here’s what we do in our Family Time MOST of the time…
- Singing – We haven’t always done this, but recently I became convicted by the fact that my kids knew very few of the old, theology-driven hymns of the faith. I don’t think hymns are the be-all-end-all of worship, but they do serve the church in powerful ways, due both to the depth of their theology, and the connection they give us with believers from the past who sang the very same words.
- For example: Martin Luther wrote “A Mighty Fortress is our God” sometime between 1527 and 1529, and it’s safe to say that believers have sung it fairly regularly ever since (for nearly 500 years!). When we sing songs like this as a family, we are opening our hearts (and those of our children) to a legacy of continual Christian faith that can provide strength and sustaining power. It helps to be rooted to faith that is more than “individual.” It’s one aspect of the “great cloud of witnesses” coming to fruition in real-life.
- On the first point, the eternal truths which these songs contain are staggering… and often they are able to stick in our minds and hearts more readily because they are set to music. My youngest son (10 years old at this writing) can memorize almost anything, with very little effort, IF it is set to music. I want eternal truths going into his mind… why wouldn’t I want him to learn hymns? So my suggestion is that you find an old hymnal for each member of your family, and learn to sing the old hymns together. So many churches are doing their lyrics with some form of electronic media today, you should be able to find some rather easily.
- Bible reading – We typically will read a Biblical story or account and discuss it together.
- We’ll take turns reading, in various reliable translations. At the date of this writing, my 7 year old loves to read aloud to the family. We love hearing her. We love that she’s excited to read the Bible.
- We have an age spread of 12 years from our oldest to our youngest, so we have to be careful not to let the enthusiasm of a hearty discussion inadvertently exclude the younger kiddos.
- We talk about what we are reading with a view toward knowing God better, loving Him more, and applying His truth to our lives.
- Part of the application value comes from how well you, as parents, know your kids outside of Family Time. We work hard to be in touch with our kids’ lives in general so that we are able to help them see how the truth of the word applies to their daily issues, both large and small.
- Prayer – We pray together. Aloud. All of us. Nobody gets a “pass” on this…
- It’s important for your kids to learn about prayer both by instruction and by example. They need to hear how you pray, so they have an idea of what real, authentic prayer is like – and imitate it for a while if need be.
- It’s important that your kids learn to pray themselves. From youngest to oldest, there is no reason they should not and can not learn to speak to their Creator.
- We pray for each other. Often, I’ll just instruct the kids to pray for the person to their right or left. The random nature of where people sit from one family night to the next seems to make the “mix” of who’s praying for who work out.
- We pray for concerns, big and small. From the sale of our house (a current request) to a friend a school who’s parents are struggling in their marriage – we pray.
- We praise the Lord in prayer. We make sure that we are thanking God for His goodness, blessing, and more fundamentally, for who He is.
- We make sure to highlight prayers from the past that have been answered. Our kids need to SEE our God at work, and answered prayers are a wonderful opportunity to show them that practically.
- Conversation – We’ll typically spend at least some time checking-in with each person in the family…
- We ask how each person is doing, what is going on in their lives, etc.
- Parents have to get good at asking questions that open up each child, that lead them to honesty and openness. I’ll likely talk more about how to do that in future posts.
- If we know of important events on the horizon (tests at school, job issues, etc.) we’ll ask about those specifically – and how the child is feeling/thinking about it. These are great times to help them think Biblically and learn to apply truth to their lives.
- Conversation like this is vitally important for the unity and closeness of your family.
Not necessarily the same thing every time
There are exceptions to our “normal” Family Time, times when we do something out of the ordinary… but always with one of the two goals above in mind. Sometimes we “play” together, watch a helpful or fun movie, play a game, make sundaes, etc. But always with the goal of family unity or drawing closer to Christ. In our family, these are maybe 1 out of 10, so that we don’t lose the more thoughtful focus of our regular family time. We typically make the decision of what “kind” of Family Time to have based on what has been going on in our lives and the lives of our children. In other words, we try to keep our finger on the pulse of the family so we know what is needed when. My wife is WORLDS better at this than me… so I defer to her many times on this kind of thing.
NEXT POST: Q & A ABOUT FAMILY TIME