Family worship can seem daunting when you have young children! Learn why you should do it and the simple formula our family uses to succeed.
Why Bother Doing Family Worship with Young Children?
Family worship when you have young children can be very daunting. How can we be intentional about leading our children to worship when they don’t have any desire to sit still and they don’t seem to either care about or understand what we are saying?
First, let me establish WHY you should have a regular practice of worship as a family.
Scripture commands it
Discipling your children is a privilege
Not only is discipling your children a command of Scripture, it is an intense privilege. God has been incredibly gracious to your children to put them in a believing home where they are surrounded by Gospel truths. Make the most of this! See this as an incredible privilege. My constant prayer in my mothering is that one day soon these precious babies will also be my brothers and sisters in the faith. To explain the Gospel time and time again and live it in front of unbelievers is an incredible privilege. The fact that God, in His grace, has put these little unbelievers in my home is something I should be thankful for!
The Cumulative Effect
It may seem that children do not care or aren’t able to understand the teachings of Scripture at a young age but think about the blessing of having Scripture poured into them for 18-20 years every single day. It is my sincere belief that the Lord will use this in my children’s lives and I long to see that! Day after day as a little more truth is poured into their hearts, the Holy Spirit is able to use it to cause deep repentance and true faith in their little hearts.
How Can I Do Family Devotions with Young Children?
So now that you know WHY you should practice family worship, you are probably asking, HOW can I do that?? I have young children. Children don’t sit still very long and they often don’t seem interested.
I have two young children (4 and 2) with hopefully more on the way (through adoption! Check out this post to see more about our family’s journey). I understand the struggle! So let me give you an idea of what family worship looks like in our house.
By way of explanation, this is not the only Bible teaching we do in our house with our children (come back soon because another post with recommendations is coming!) but the time of family worship is of critical importance.
So what does family worship look like in our house?
We include 4 elements:
3. Bible reading
Our family worship takes only a few minutes but it is now a treasured part of our day with our children. Though they often squirm and try to get up and play during family worship, we do our best to gently correct them and point them back to the importance of what we are doing together.
Your family worship may look different from this. These elements are not all mandatory. The emphasis is that your family is getting into the Word of God regularly together. This is an example of what we do and an explanation of why we do it this way. — Amazing Author, Blogger, and Elder Tim Challies does a much simpler version – check out what he has to say here.
I am not a singer and neither is my husband. This is a struggle for both of us but this is why we are so thankful for Youtube! We usually try to do one or two children’s Bible songs and one other song.
We use this time to teach our children hymns and the songs we sing at church. We very much want our children to be engaged during corporate worship and it helps a lot when they know the songs they are singing because they are not yet able to read. We swallow our pride and sing out with the help of Youtube so that we can lead our children well.
The Scriptures tell us to sing to one another in songs, hymns, and spiritual songs (Ephesians 5:19) and we believe this also applies to family worship. We also believe that singing is an incredible teaching tool. Our children have learned more than 40 Bible verses simply by listening to them in song form (thank you Steve Green).
Plus! Our children are young and they are VERY energetic. This is a great way to start family worship because it begins to bring them under control. Their little bodies can still be moving and their minds can be engaged but we are moving toward calm and helping them make the transition from play to focus.
To help your family some with this, I put together a playlist on Youtube with some of our family’s favorite songs! I hope it inspires you and helps your family get used to the idea of singing together!
Typically, in our order of events, the catechism comes next. If you are new to the idea of a catechism, it is essentially a series of questions and answers about theology. For example, our’s begins like this:
Q: Who made you?
Q: What else did God make?
Q: Why did God make you?
A: For His glory
And it goes on from there. Lest you think your children couldn’t do this though, it is supposed to be fun and engaging. Our children make up some silly answers to the questions on occasion but as long as they get the answer correct we role with it. For example:
Q: Is there more than one true God?
A (in our house): NO WAY JOSE!
This sets children up with a base of theological understanding. They may not yet know how to apply it to their lives or situations but they put pieces together very quickly. My daughter is now beginning to see where these truths affect her life and starting to ask questions occasionally.
You can also start these with children at a very young age. My daughter has been doing them since she was about 3 and has about 30 questions and answers memorized. On a whim one day we decided to also ask my son, who is only 2 years old, the first few questions. To our surprise, he had been memorizing them just from hearing his sister say them and he is able to do about 20 questions and answers already! This is something they can learn young!
Check out this super cute video of my little one doing his catechism!
3. Bible reading
For us this includes a Bible story from their children’s Bible and 2 or 3 verses from my husband’s Bible. For young children we like The Beginner’s Bible because it is so simple but our absolute favorite children’s Bible so far is The Jesus Storybook Bible. My husband says everyone in the church should read it because it teaches how to look at the Bible as a whole that points to Christ rather than individual stories that only teach good moral lessons.
We also include a few verses from my husband’s Bible. When our children are older we will eventually move to reading a chapter out of the Scriptures directly but for now a few verses allows them the chance to engage with the Word without losing focus. We ask a lot of comprehension questions during this too and try to help them remember what we have talked about on different days. We are slowly reading through Genesis 1 with them now and they are really retaining quite a bit!
This is a simple prayer. Not too long. Usually we thank God for his protection and provision, often we confess sin, pray for specific urgent needs we know of and anything our children request, and pray for our children’s salvation. My husband typically leads this prayer time. Our children will often pray during meal times for us but this time is usually led by husband.
Make It Doable So You Will be Consistent
Then it is bed time! Total that entire process takes 15-20 minutes. But the first 5-7 minutes are them still being able to move around with the songs. They still struggle some by the end a lot of the time but we are working on it.
Again, this is not a prescription for what family worship has to look like in your house. This is how it looks in my house at this time in our family’s life. As our children grow and our schedules change it will morph I’m sure. The primary thing is that your family is finding time to learn about God and seek Him together.
This has a long lasting effect on children for the future (check out this post from the Gospel Coalition with more on that!) and it is of critical importance because it is commanded by God.
When we first started trying to do family worship with young children it was really hard to figure out what to include and how to do it. We got discouraged often and took long breaks because it didn’t seem to accomplish anything and we were tired by the end of the day too. This model works for our family and has helped us to be much more consistent in our family worship (called “Bible Time” in our house). I hope it is a help to you too!!
Do you do family worship? Why or why not? If you do, what do you include in yours? Let me know in the comments below!
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