Family Worship


Family Worship
by Donald S. Whitney is a little book that every parent should read.  I say "little" because it is under sixty pages long.  It is a relatively new book, published in 2016, on the importance having family worship in the home.  I'm all about that.  

Whitney starts out by pointing to the "reality that a high percentage of churchgoing teenagers leave the church once they finish high school."  He concludes that kids are more likely to stay in church if they grow up in homes where family worship is a habit.  I agree.  

Whitney also highlights the fact that very little family worship is happening in Christian homes today, even in the best churches, and the best families, even though most parents believe they have a primary responsibility for teaching their children to follow Christ.  Whitney concludes the introduction with words that I wish every parent would read:

"Moreover, it is unlikely that exposure to the church once or twice a week will impress your children enough with the greatness and glory of God that they will want to pursue him once they leave your home."

In other words, church is not enough.  You need to disciple your kids at home.

In chapters one and two Whitney points to the practice family worship in the Bible and in church history.  I found the quote by historian Lyman Coleman very interesting, who said that family worship was a twice-daily habit for Christian families in the decades immediately after the New Testament.  Whitney quotes the Westminster Confession of Faith (1647) and the Second London Confession of 1689, both of which say, "God is to be worshipped everywhere in spirit and in truth; as in private families daily, and in secret each one by himself."  Also very interesting to me was that the same year the Westminster Confession was completed, the Church of Scotland created a companion document called The Directory for Family Worship, which gives detailed instruction about the practice.  The directory also charged pastors with the responsibility of holding the men of the church accountable for family worship.  In other words, failing to lead your family in worship at home warranted church discipline.  Wow!  We have come a long way.  

Next, Whitney provides some helpful instruction about how to do family worship.  He summarizes it with three words:  Read, Pray, and Sing.  That is, read the Bible, pray, and sing a song.  If time permits, Whitney also encourages the use of a catechism.  Three helpful suggestions are given at the end of chapter three.  First, be brief.  For him that means ten minutes or less (less if you have small children).  Second, be regular.  Whitney recommends having family worship every day of the week.  I have to admit, that is more than I do it.  We do family worship three days a week.  But I agree that regularity is key.  If you are going to do it three days a week, then don't miss.  Be consistent.  Third, be flexible.  The time that works for another family may not fit your family.  Whitney suggests finding a time when the family is already together, such as breakfast or supper.  For me, supper works.  Since we are already gathered for supper, we do family worship right after we eat.  

Family Worship will both encourage and instruct you to lead your family in worship at home, and it will only take a few minutes to read.

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