From time to time, in my sermon, I will share a moment from our family Bible time. It’s usually something funny or insightful that one of my children said. The old TV show’s name is true: “Kids Say the Darndest Things;” and our family worship seems to bring out the darndest of them all. (I’m not complaining, it provides me with some great sermon material!)
Family worship is not something we hear much about these days. Sadly, this is nothing new.
The nineteen-century Baptist pastor, Charles Spurgeon, once wrote:
“Brethren, I wish it were more common, more universal, with all Christians to have family prayer. We sometimes hear of children of Christian parents who do not grow up in the fear of God, and we are asked how it is that they turn out so badly. In many cases, I fear there is such a neglect of family worship.”
From the time that God called Abraham, He outlined a plan for God-fearing homes. In Genesis 18:19, God said, “For I have chosen Abraham, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord…” Not only did Father Abraham have many sons, but he had an important job to do for his sons – to teach them about God so they could fear Him. That has not changed.
If you didn’t grow up in a Christian home, family worship may sound hard or difficult. But it doesn’t have to be complicated, rigid, or boring. In fact, I think the best family worship is simple, flexible, and fun.
Here’s a quick FAQ to help your family worship the Lord together.
What does a normal family Bible time look like?
I’m not sure our Bible time ever looks “normal.” With six kids (and five of them being goofy boys), we have plenty of smirks and jokes. But I like that. I want family worship to be an enjoyable time. But we do have a simple routine.
We read the Bible after dinner. The table is cleaned, and the dishes are removed so there are no distractions. There are no phones (unless they are using the Bible app to follow along.) We read a passage of Scripture. We discuss what it says and means. I ask them simple questions. Our time is closed with a brief prayer.
How often do you do it?
When my kids were smaller, we would do it most evenings as part of their bedtime routine. But now that I have teenagers who work and drive, we are in a different season of life. Our current goal is to have at least one or two family Bible times per week. For us, that is usually on Tuesday nights and/or Fridays.
What should family worship include?
I like Donald Whitney’s simple plan: Read, Pray, and Sing. Read the Bible together – a whole chapter or story. Talk about it on their level. Pray for one or two concerns. Think about praying for something outside your family, like an unreached people group, a missionary, or someone at church. Sing a worship song. If they’re young, try a children’s song, as they get older, buy a used hymnbook and use that.
How long should it be?
This will largely depend on your children – but it’s more important to be consistent than long-winded. Sometimes it lasts 15 minutes and other times it can go for over an hour. We don’t have a set length of time. Flexible and fluid are fine.
Who should do the reading?
Sometimes we take turns. Sometime one child will read. But I recommend, for most family worship, that dads do the reading. God has given men the role of spiritual leader in the home, even as he did Abraham. I think this is an easy way to embody that position. Men, let’s call the family together, lead the reading, guide the discussion, and oversee the prayers.
What if my kids ask unrelated questions?
Trust me, they will! Sometimes it will be goofy. Laugh along and keep them focused. But if the questions are sincere (even if they are off-topic), I say: chase those rabbits! Teachable moments are often unplanned. Scratch them where they itch.
What parts of the Bible should we read?
All of them! Haha. Seriously, you can’t go wrong since “all Scripture is inspired of God and profitable.” (2 Tim 3:16) Read a gospel, like Mark or John. Pick the proverb chapter that matches the date. Best of all, read the sermon text ahead of time.
By the way, some parents aren’t sure when to talk about certain, topics – like sexuality, divorce, evil, suffering, etc. Guess what? You can’t read the Bible for long without bumping into each of these. If you let the Bible introduce those topics, then your kids will naturally think of God as honesty and the One to go to for answers.
What translation should I use?
This depends on the age and ability of your children. With babies or preschoolers, I think story Bibles can be a good start. But once children can read, there’s no replacement for having them hear and read the Bible itself.
Easier translations, such as the NIV or Living Bible, may be a good place to start. Our family reads the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) together.
What other resources would you recommend?
The best work that I put in your hands is entitled Family Worship – In the Bible, in History, & in Your Home by Donald Whitney. It’s just 88 pages long and costs just $9 on Amazon. If you want to give family worship a try, get it and read it.