The practice of family worship has revolutionized our home in profound ways. This page is dedicated to relaying what we’ve learned so you can also begin experiencing the joys and delights of worshipping God as a family.

As it turns out, Family Worship is a thing

I only heard of the idea of family worship a few years ago. Prior to that, I assumed I’d figure out what it meant to lead our household in the things of God. Little happened because I lacked a plan.

It wasn’t until I learned about family worship that I began to see A) how lacking we were in this area, and B) how easy it would be to turn the tide.

A fading tradition

Family worship is interwoven throughout the history of the Church. Many of our fathers and mothers in the faith spoke often of the importance of the practice. Unfortunately, the habit has been lost in most homes since the early 1900s.

We’re hoping that we can see a resurgence of families who worship together.

Even more than being a nearly-lost tradition from generations of Christians before us, we clearly see patterns of family worship laid out in Scripture, which I’ll discuss below.

Many Christians are praying for revival in the church, but there will never be revival in the church unless there is revival in the home.

— Howard Hendricks

a scriptural imperative

Why is Family Worship so important?

Why is worship in church important? Or, why is worship important at all?

Worship matters because it’s our response to the holiness, grace, and goodness of God. We are called to worship God with everything we are (Matt 22:37Deut 6:511:1Mark 12:30Luke 10:27), and we are called to instruct our children to do the same (Deut 6:6–7).

There is no replacement for corporate worship or the communion of the saints, but there’s also no replacement for corporate worship in the home.

In addition to the imperative scriptures above, we also see examples of generational affection for God in the families of Job, Abraham, Asaph, and others. In New Testament passages we see indications that a family culture of worship is assumed among the people of God. This is most evident in the letters of Paul and Peter.

Family Worship matters because God says it matters.

"can we really do this?"

You can do this.

At this point you may feel like we felt: uneasy and unsure where to start. If that’s you, take heart! Family worship isn’t difficult, awkward, or boring; I’d say it’s the opposite. Worshipping as a family is one of the most natural habits you can form as a Christian household.

Three Basic Parts

As a practice, family worship includes three components:

  • scripture
  • worship
  • prayer

Your family’s expression of each will be unique, and the order may shift at times, but worship, Scripture, and prayer are “the stuff” of family worship.

Bonus: another piece we sometimes add could be called “doctrine”, or “catechesis”, which is simply us teaching our children core tenets of the Christian faith through instruction or memorization. More on that below if you’re curious.

Part #1

Bible Reading

This part is pretty self-explanatory: read the Bible together!

Still, we do receive a good number of questions on what to do for various ages of children or where to start in Scripture. As with the first part, you’ll have to find what works best for your family, but here are some ideas to get you thinking:

Read full books

Have a plan

Consider starting in the Gospel of John, Romans, or Genesis. John’s writing style is straightforward and digestible, even for younger kids. Romans is full of verses to discuss for older kids. Genesis is great for really young kids (2-5) because the stories (the Garden, Cain and Abel, Noah, etc) have a natural narrative flow.

Vary length as needed

Be flexible

Vary the length based on your context—in terms of your child's age or your moment in the day. Some days we only get to a single verse, other days we finish entire stories. It just depends on how loud the baby is and how much time we have that morning. Do what works, and don’t get discouraged or frustrated if you get cut short.

Unfiltered truth

Let the text speak

It may be tempting to filter out tough words, concepts, or stories from younger kids. Instead, let them ask questions and seek out answers as a family. This teaches them to wrestle with Scripture from a very young age. Also, it lets the full text bear its full weight on their little hearts—and God’s Word never returns void! (Isa 55:11)

"Teach the little ones the whole truth and nothing but the truth."

– C. H. Spurgeon

Part #2

Worship/Adoration

Worship refers to praising God for who he is and all he’s done. I’ve added the word “adoration” above to help make this part clear. In the Western church, the word “worship” has become synonymous with music. While music is one expression of worship, it’s not the only expression of worship.

For example, we do sing together as a family, but sometimes we marvel at God’s majesty by discussing his creation. Selena will point to the trees out the window and we’ll talk through how God made them to function and why that points to God’s amazing creativity.

low angle photography of green trees

The key is not to overthink it

No production is needed! The goal of your adoration/worship time is to focus your hearts and minds on the goodness of God.

A few ideas for your worship time:

  • Play music and sing along as a family, teaching younger kids hand motions
  • If someone in the family plays an instrument, incorporate it!
  • YouTube can be a valuable resource with lyric videos, etc.
  • Sing acapella! Professionals need not apply.
  • Adore God in a non-musical way. Examples include marvelling at what’s done in your lives or his creation.

Whatever you do, find something that feels natural and less distracting for your family. It will stretch you a bit at first, but you’re the parent; lead with confidence!

Part #3

Prayer

Once you’ve had a chance to worship and to read the Bible (perhaps discussing a bit along the way), you respond to God’s Word as a family through prayer. This is a great time to recall and update everyone on your family’s prayer requests, etc. In our family, we typically ask our daughters if they feel led to pray (it’s about 50/50 yes/no), and I or Selena will lead the charge from there.

Prayer matters not just because it is a bookend for your time of family worship, but because it’s an expression of your need for God and a response to what he’s said in Scripture.

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

(Deuteronomy 6:6-7)

One example

Here's our approach (typically)

As you can see, it’s not rocket science. The health of your family’s worship life is more a function of your priorities and less a function of your skills as a worshipper, an exegeter of Scripture, or an ornate offerer of prayer

For better or worse, here’s how our family does worship most of the time:

WHEN: either after breakfast or after dinner.

FREQUENCY: 2-5 times per week (this depends entirely on me. I’ve found that if I lead us there, the family goes there with zero resistance).

FLOW:

  1. SING: For this part, I play the ukulele and Selena leads the girls in hand motions (assuming the baby isn’t screaming). Songs include: Jesus Loves Me, Deep and Wide, and/or Peace Like a River. (3-5 minutes)
  2. READ: We will usually read a passage from whatever scripture we’re in at the time. (5-8 minutes)
  3. CONNECT: One of us will ask the kids open ended questions about what we’ve read—mainly for comprehension and to see if they can connect it to other scriptural themes. Usually our questions provide an opportunity for me to connect what we’ve read to the Gospel, and we spend time reminding our children of God’s grace in Christ. (2 minutes)
  4. PRAY: By now the baby is melting down, so I usually shout a prayer over the top of her piercing voice. I’ll thank God for his goodness and ask him to help us know him more and follow him more faithfully (among other things). (1 minute)

As you can see, it’s a quick thing for our family. Believe it or not, it’s gotten longer as our girls have matured. I can imagine spending much more time once they’re able to read Scripture on their own and we’re able to have more sustained dialogue.

Masters of families, who preside in the other affairs of the house, must go before their households in the things of God… as such they must keep up family-doctrine, family worship, and family discipline: then is there a church in the house, and this is the family religion I am persuading you to.

— Matthew Henry

you can do this!

Conclusion

This write-up feels truncated for such an important topic.

I can’t express to you how revolutionary this practice has been for our family and I sincerely hope it has encouraged you to make family worship a regular practice in your home. I’ve included some resources below to help you get started.

We believe family worship has the power to spark a revolution in homes, churches, and communities around the world.

Lead your family with confidence. You are called, you are equipped, and you are able.

Family Worship resources

Here are some helpful tools to get you started on your journey. Enjoy!

  • Family Worship by Donald Whitney The book is $8, I can’t recommend it enough.
  • The New City Catechism Tim Keller co-authored the project. There’s a book, an app, and music, mostly free.
  • Family Discipleship by Matt Chandler and Adam Griffin. A phenomenal resource.
  • YouTube/Spotify playlists (coming soon)
  • Bible reading plan (coming soon)
  • Discussion questions (coming soon)