01.05.2012 The Blog No Comments

Resolved: Achieve authentic family worship

Contributed by Robb Brunansky

Family worship is something we’ve had mild success at in the past, but when life gets busy, it seems like it’s often one of the first things to get cut. This year, I’m determined to make sure that doesn’t happen. Here are a few things I’m doing differently this year to that end: 

  • Planning family worship that fits a realistic schedule. One of the primary reasons we have failed in the past to persevere in family worship is unrealistic expectations. With our schedule, planning to have family worship every evening is simply unrealistic. My schedule requires me to be gone at least one night each week for meetings at church. AWANA consumes another evening. There are date nights, evenings with grandparents, kids’ events, and many other things that come up that limit the realistic number of evenings we are home for enough time for meaningful family worship. Missing expectations leads to frustration, disappointment, and burn out. So this year, we have set up a more realistic schedule that we believe is achievable. 
  • Picking a theme to study that is practical for kids. In the past, I have tried to read through books of the Bible straight through in family worship. That has its benefit, to be sure, but it often is very difficult for the kids younger than elementary school-age to track, especially in many parts of the Old Testament. The most success we have experienced in the past was when we went through a children’s Bible that highlighted main themes and personalities in the Bible. This year, we have picked a theme to study, love, and we are going through different stories, parables, and accounts that deal with this subject. It allows me to be thorough in covering Scripture and also make sure that the kids are engaged each time. 
  • Using creative teaching techniques. At the beginning, the kids have to sit quietly and listen to the passage we are discussing. That’s good for them to learn how to do. They also have to sit quietly for prayer. Discipline is an important part of worship, so we emphasize that. But I also want the Bible to come alive for the kids. So I am invoking some creative teaching techniques in family worship. The first night this year we developed hand motions to help the kids remember the two greatest commandments. They caught on and retention of the verses increased exponentially. The second night we acted out the story we read as a family. Not only did the kids have a great time, they remembered every detail of the story after acting it out. If the kids are excited about family worship, let’s face it, it’s much easier to engage in it. If the kids are genuinely learning the Scriptures, it’s much easier for me to be excited about it, too. 
  • Taking a holistic approach. In the past, our family worship was that time we spent together discussing a passage, singing a hymn, praying, and so on. This year, not so! We are going to take action on our worship and integrate what we are learning into all of life. Since our theme is love, every other month we are going to go on a family field trip to demonstrate love in a tangible way to others, whether that means visiting a children’s hospital, a nursing home, a shut-in from our church, or other activities. We need to be able to connect our worship to what we do day in and day out, so this year family worship is something we are working hard to integrate into our activities outside of reading the Bible and praying. 
  • Changing the measure of success. In the past, family worship was successful if we did it, plain and simple. That was pretty short-sighted and legalistic. This year, family worship is successful if all of us grow in our love for Christ and others in tangible ways.  As we learn the facts about love and put feet to those facts, we will be expressing true worship. This makes family worship not just about the children, but about the family worshiping together and growing together. 

In our culture, we compartmentalize worship too much as it is. Family worship has to be more than (although it must not be less than) a few minutes in the morning and/or evening spent reading the Bible and praying together. Family worship has to be a lifestyle. By changing a few things in how we are approaching family worship, I have high hopes that this year not only will we be faithful to our set times of Bible study and prayer, but we will grow together as a family into the image of Christ and reflect His love to a lost world.

Do you have a family worship routine? What are some keys to faithfulness and effectiveness you have found work for you? I’d be interested to hear your stories, too!

Robb Brunansky is the Senior Pastor at Desert Hills Evangelical Free Church. In addition to his Master of Divinity degree from Masters Seminary, Robb is finishing a Doctor of Philosophy at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Robb and Randi live in Phoenix, Arizona with their four young children.

About the author

Ryan is the Founder & Director of Daddy Discipleship and the Associate Editor for The Journal of Discipleship & Family Ministry.

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