"So pray to the Lord who is in charge of the harvest; ask him to send more workers into his fields." Matthew 9:38
The love of a parent is a fierce love. It is a selfless love and a protective love. When it comes to the protection and well being of our children, there is nothing that a good parent will not do in order to safeguard the family. From a young age we begin to take preventative measures in preparing our young ones against the dangers of the world.
We teach our children to be kind to others, but never to talk to strangers. We teach them to always put on their seat belt, and to never cross the street without looking both ways. And when it comes to things like swimming, we take every precaution to teach them the proper swimming techniques before allowing them to remove those annoying arm floatees.
As a parent, much time is spent in teaching and training our children so that they may be well prepared to navigate the many pitfalls of life. We do this because we love them, and want them to have an abundant life.
What is so surprising is that so many Christian parents will spend countless hours in the day instructing their children in how to stay safe from the physical dangers of the world, but almost completely neglect their eternal and spiritual well being.
It has become common place for believers to rely fully on the church in regards to the discipleship of their children. But this mindset is not only wrong, it is sinful. Here are five reasons why parents need to practice family worship daily with their children at home.
1. Family Worship is Important Because God Has Commanded It
In Deuteronomy 11 Moses speaks the words of the Lord to the Israelites, relaying to them commandments from the Lord in how they are to conduct themselves and how God is to be worshipped. Moses also addresses the importance of family worship. Speaking of God’s commandments, Moses says;
“You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.” Deuteronomy 11:19-21.
Notice that worship within the home is not a suggestion, but a command. Also take note of the many different ways that this discipline takes shape. Family worship was never meant to be just programmatic. We teach our children about God consistently throughout the day. When we rise in the morning and before we lie down at the end of the day.
When Moses writes that we are to write the commands of God on our doorposts, he was not instructing us to drive down to the local Lifeway and purchase a Bible verse plaque to hang on our door. Rather, it means that the worship love of God should be so prevalent in our families, that it is a known fact to everyone who may enter the doorposts of our family.
2. Family Worship is Important Because Your Child’s Eternity is at Stake
Statistically a great majority of children who are raised in church and have grown up participating in youth group end up leaving the church by the time they’ve reached adulthood. Part of this tragedy can be attributed to the pragmatism of many churches who placed more of an emphasis on entertainment rather than teaching. But as parents and particularly fathers, God will first hold you responsible for the discipleship of your family, not the church that you attended.
The prophet Isaiah writes,
“All your children shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the peace of your children.” Isaiah 54:13.
Far too often we read verses like this too casually without considering the dangerous implications that are in plan sight. The prophet writes that children that are brought up and taught in the Lord will receive great peace upon them.
But what about the children that are not brought up in the knowledge of the Lord? All humanity is born into sin. And in such a state, all people who have reached an age of being capable to possess the knowledge of the God and yet do not call Him Lord do not have the peace of God upon them, but the wrath of God. Even our children.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36.
Notice John does not write that if a person does not obey God, the wrath of God will come upon him. Instead John writes that if a person remains in unbelief, the wrath of God “remains on him.” Again, the implication is clear. We are enemies of God from birth. And His wrath abides on all who live in rebellion to Christ.
“Pour out Your wrath on the nations that do not know You, And on the families that do not call Your name;” Jeremiah 10:25.
Just as a parent would waste not a second in running to the rescue of their child who is standing in the road before an oncoming truck, so should we act with urgency in discipling our children. Knowing that God’s wrath resides on all who do not profess Him as Lord, family worship should be our utmost priority.
The Apostle Paul said this of his protegé Timothy’s upbringing.
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” 2 Timothy 3:14-15.
In 1 Timothy, Paul more light is shed on Timothy’s childhood when he praises God for the faith of Timothy’s mother and grandmother. Timothy’s family did not just take him to church and sign him up for the local youth group. Timothy was discipled by his family. Family worship was the focal point of his upbringing where he was taught the scriptures and which led to his salvation.
When speaking of the Godly influence of his own mother, the great preacher Charles Spurgeon said, “Fathers and mothers are the most natural agents for God to use in the salvation of their children. I am sure that, in my early youth, no teaching ever made such an impression upon my mind as the instruction of my mother.”
3. Family Worship Teaches Them the Purpose of Church
The church was created by God first and foremost for the glorification and worship of God. In our current day and age church has become akin to shopping for a new car, especially for youth. They want a church that is fun, entertaining, and cool enough to attract their friends. Basically the purpose of a good church is to meet their desires and expectations. And worshipping God only takes place if and when those expectations are satisfied.
Sadly, there are many parents who will actually allow their children to choose the church that they want the family to attend. Pastor Josh Buice has written a great article on the dangers of this that can be accessed at this LINK.
Within the context of family worship we can teach our children to hold a high view of God and the scriptures. From an early age, Lacy and I have tried our best to instilled in our children that the marks of a good church are grounded not in our preferences but in their reliance on the scriptures and their proclamation of the Gospel.
Recently our family visited a church where the worship music was very showy and entertaining and the preacher was more of a comedian than an expositor. After the experience, our nine year old son Lincoln said that he didn’t want to go back to that church. When I asked why, he said, “Because they seemed more concerned with pleasing men than pleasing and glorifying God.”
When we teach our children the importance and the beauty of seeking God and holding high His Word, they learn to discern the difference between Biblical churches and more worldly churches from an early age. And this will safeguard against them leaving the church when the are grown. Because they will properly know that church is not about our entertainment, but about God’s glorification. And corporate worship will become a desire rather than a weekly duty.
4. Family Worship Will Lead to Their Greatest Joys
When we first introduced broccoli to our son Luke, he despised it. But as his parents who knew what was best for him, we didn’t give in. We didn’t compromise and let Luke follow his own desires. We insisted that Luke eat his broccoli. We didn’t load his plate up with tons of it. Lacy only put a few bites so that he could develop a taste for it.
One night we looked over at Luke’s plate and he had finished his broccoli without us having to beg and plead with him. What was even more surprising was that Luke asked for a second helping. Currently, Broccoli is Luke’s favorite vegetable. He can’t get enough of the stuff! If we would have given in to his initial distaste for it, he would have never realized the joy he found it eating it today.
From day one, we never made family worship an option. And with young children, there have been many times where it was apparent that eating broccoli would have been more to their liking than gathering for family worship. But the more we expose our families to the Word of God, the more it begins to take root. And it’s not long before what was once a forced discipline is now the highlight of their day.
Matthew wrote of the Lord as being like a precious treasure hidden in a field (Matt 12:44). We live in a world where the preciousness of the Gospel has been buried in a field of television, toys, fun, and self-gratification. And removing these blinders which our children hold so dear can be a fight at times. But when they begin to be taught of their own depravity and the grace of God, the knowledge of God will not just be tolerated, but desired.
5. Family Worship Teaches Our Children to Make God Top Priority
The old saying “Monkey see, monkey do” holds very true within the family. Many parents who raise their children in church only to have their children walk away from the church when they reach adulthood scratch their head and wonder why. Yet they have failed to examine the example they set in making God a priority.
Parents, do you exemplify that knowing God is precious to you? Or is God just a weekly staple like going to school or the grocery store? Fathers, do your children see you gathering the family with joy to read the scriptures? Do they see delight in your eyes when you speak of the things of God? Do they see you and their mother on their knees regularly praying to the Lord? Or do they see God as being a burden?
Monkey see, monkey do.
The passions of the father will in most cases be passed down to the son. We do not have the ability nor the power to save our children. Only God can do that. It is our job as parents to surround our children with the kindling of the Holy Spirit and pray that the Lord would ignite it.
If family worship is not a priority or current discipline in your home, it is never too late to begin. The reasons family worship is not a more common practice in Christian homes is because of laziness, selfishness, and out right disobedience to what God has commanded us to do as leaders of our homes.
There is no doubt that family worship will require self sacrifice and work. But as fathers and mothers, we have been charged with the responsibility of plowing the fields of the knowledge of our Lord within our homes. It will require us to turn off the television. It will require us to set aside hobbies. It will require us to wake up earlier or go to bed later.
Family Worship will require you to die to yourself. But isnt that what the Christian life is all about? And when we die to ourselves, we become more like the savior that we worship. Therefore, family worship is commanded by God not just for the salvation of your home, but because it conforms you more into the image of Christ. Ask yourself, is there anything more important than our families being households that are firmly planted in the Lord?
Make family worship a staple in your home. If we truly love our children, there can be no greater priority. Below I have listed a few resources to aid in beginning to implement the practice of family worship in your home.
Family Devotions Based on the Westminster Catechism
The Jesus Story Book For Young Children