How to worship as a family (Part 1)

When my wife and I first brought our baby girl home from the hospital, we were rightly preoccupied with doing all the right things to help her flourish: regular meals, consistent, sleep schedule, doctor visits and so on. We read books and blogs about “first foods” and how to prepare them, and carefully researched sleep schedules and potty training.

As my girls have grown older, though, I have become increasingly concerned with their spiritual health. How am I feeding them spiritually? How am I training them in righteousness?

Going to church on Sunday as a family is a great place to start, but it’s only one part of a family’s spiritual life together. Just as families sit down at meals together for physical nourishment, it’s important to set aside time for spiritual nurturing also. 

 

One of the great things about being part of a church family is that there’s no shortage of people who have gone through what I’m going through as a parent. Here are some practices I’ve gleaned from pastors and parents in our church:

    • Read from a children’s Bible – There are many options to choose from, but for younger children, it’s best to use a story Bible that just tells the stories with pictures and simple words (this one, this one, and this one are favorites in my household). Your choice of story Bible should adjust as your children grow older with the goal of eventually reading together from the full Bible. You can also try retelling bible stories in your own words, which is a great exercise for both you and your kids!

       

    • Bible memorization – Even young children are able to memorize short verses of Scripture. Add hand motions to make this a fun activity. When they’ve mastered one verse, move on to another one.

       

    • Music – Most children love music and will enjoy singing with you, making it a wonderful method to worship and even memorize Scripture together. You can purchase a hymnal or bring home bulletins from church to familiarize your children with worship music. You can even make the most of chore times (like meal clean-up) by singing along with your children to recorded worship music.

      Music can also help with Bible memory! (See “
      Slugs and Bugs” and “Seeds Family Worship”).

       

    • Prayer – Prayer time doesn’t have to be long and complicated. Even young children can learn to say simple prayers of thanksgiving (“Thank you for…”), petition (“Please help…”), and worship (“I love you because…”). Saying the Lord’s Prayer together is a great place to start and gives your family a connection point between your worship at home and Sunday morning worship. The Book of Common Prayer also contains shortened prayer services specifically for families for morning, noon, and evening time. 

    • Good Habits (Virtues) – Help your children apply the Bible to their lives by talking about concrete habits that you want them to develop. These can be simple habits like obeying right away, giving something away, saying thank you, or finishing a task.

       

    • Seasonal Practices – Certain times of the church year (Advent, Christmas, Lent, Easter) are ripe for unique traditions. Changing up your routine a little or adding new elements (Advent Candles/Calendars, small gifts for each of the 12 days of Christmas, Lenten family devotional, etc.) can help your family enter more deeply into the church year.

If you’re like me, you may see all of these possible practices and feel overwhelmed. Where should I even start? Check out Part 2 of this blog series.

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