Family worship, at its most basic level, is the regular gathering of the family to worship God and receive instruction in the Christian faith. Parents have been given a responsibility to disciple their children, and one of the best ways is through regular times of the family gathering to worship God together and learn more about him and his ways. What follows is a list of six ways regular family worship will bless your family.
One day, a minister friend of mine and I were talking about the need for more families to seek the Lord together in the home, and he became overwhelmed with emotion as he shared what it had done in his family’s life. Anything that we do that it is in accordance with God’s will and nature will bring blessings, and family worship is no exception.
Some blessings are obvious and yield immediate fruit in the life of your family. You will likely see them right before your eyes after only a few months. Others, on the other hand, will only be evident as the years go by and your children grow into adults.
A regular practice of family worship will produce six major blessings in your family: It will unify your family, provide space for family dialogue, become a life-giving spiritual tradition, reveal weaknesses in the family unit, invigorate Christian marriages, and provide training ground for worship in the assembly.
“Anything that we do that it is in accordance with God’s will and nature will bring blessings, and family worship is no exception.”
1. Family worship will unify your family.
One of the most obvious blessings of family worship is that your family will draw closer together. A reality of our modern world is that families are fragmented and pulled in different directions by the seemingly endless number of activities our kids (and parents) can choose to be involved in.
Most of these things are not inherently bad. In fact, they have some value in instilling discipline, teamwork, fair-play, physical health, and musical talent into the life of your child. Having said that, the tyranny of over-busyness must be recognized and guarded against in order to experience the blessing of family worship. Christian parents who make a commitment to regular worship in the home will find themselves saying no to more activities, so they can have this important time together as a family.
Imagine a family that has developed a regular pattern of gathering without cell phones, television, or devices of any kind—just the family together for the purpose of worshiping God. Having an oasis of time together itself will help your family connect in powerful ways. When the spiritual component of worship is added, a unity develops that is based on the deepest of all connections, a oneness in the Lordship of Christ.
“Having an oasis of time together itself will help your family connect in powerful ways.”
Praying together is a particularly powerful way to draw closer as a family. If you’ve participated in a long-term prayer group that meets regularly, you know the intimacy and connectedness that develop through prayer. It’s part of the way God designed human relationships. When we speak to our Creator with another person who shares the image of God and is also humbly seeking the will of God, a unique relationship forms.
For families, this means that part of your prayer together should be to intercede specifically for members of your nuclear family. I love to hear my kids praying for one another about upcoming tests, troubles with their pets, or other small things that concern children. It gives me a window into their concerns and hearts, and they in turn are developing hearts for one another.
2. Family worship will provide space for family dialogue.
On a more basic but still important level, family worship provides space for open family dialogue, where mundane things that affect everyone can be discussed. Before or after the official worship part, we often find ourselves figuring out schedules for the next day or week. This part of family worship functions like announcements in the larger church setting. Activities and events are coming up that we all need to know about, and people in our lives have things going on that we need to process as a family and pray about.
As kids get older and have more freedom, this component of that time together has been increasingly important. Having a regular place for your family to talk about God, life, friends, morals, Christian teaching, and scheduling issues will naturally bring your family together. An old saying captures the point: “A family that prays together, stays together.” Again, while family worship is not a silver bullet that will solve all your family’s difficulties, one of its blessings is that it helps keep your family unified.
“While family worship is not a silver bullet that will solve all your family’s difficulties, one of its blessings is that it helps keep your family unified.”
3. Family worship will become a life-giving spiritual tradition.
Another blessing of family worship is that you will be creating a tradition that will be passed to your grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The classic movie Fiddler on the Roof has many famous songs, but one of the favorites is “Tradition” for the ways it expresses the positive and life-giving nature of communal practices handed down to subsequent generations.
To be sure, tradition can become stifling, legalistic, and mindless, but every culture and community has healthy traditions that give them a sense of identity and helps keep them oriented to the world around them. Can you imagine how difficult and time-consuming it would be as a culture to create new processes all the time for the activities we engage in? Traditions are an essential part of human community.
“Traditions are an essential part of human community.”
Some towns pride themselves on their traditions, whether it is having a Turkey Trot every year or a Groundhog Day celebration to anticipate the end of winter. A family unit is a community, and families thrive when they have healthy traditions and routines that bring stability to the community over a long period of time and create memories that are shared across the generations.
On top of that, kids love family traditions, whether it’s about how and when to open Christmas presents, what we do on birthdays, or where we go camping every year. A tradition that developed in our family was that I would take one or more of my kids to the store to pick out donuts for breakfast on Saturday mornings. This tradition lasted for years until we got a little more health conscious, but even now, it’s still tradition that we have something different for breakfast on Saturdays, and Daddy is in charge.
I’ll never forget the year that my oldest daughter was graduating from high school and I nearly (nearly, I say) broke out into tears at the grocery store picking out donuts, realizing that she wouldn’t be around anymore to get donuts with me. Traditions hold generations together, and they can often develop into an emotional attachment that goes beyond rationality.
Now, think about your family’s traditions, the things you do because that’s who you are. There’s a good chance that when your children grow up and leave home, they will take at least some of those traditions into their own marriages and families. Here’s the point: Children who grow up with the tradition of regular family worship will likely continue that practice in their homes with their children. It’s what you do.
“Children who grow up with the tradition of regular family worship will likely continue that practice in their homes with their children.”
The blessings they experience in family worship will be something they want their children to experience as well. Family worship will be one of those good, multi-generational traditions. Your decision to commit to regular family worship will yield spiritual blessings and dividends far beyond your own family, but also into the lives of your grandchildren and their children.
By faith and hope, I’m looking forward to years from now, when my grown children with their own families gather at our house for holidays and have family worship together. It’s what our family does.
4. Family worship will reveal weaknesses in the family unit.
Ironically, another blessing of family worship is that it will reveal weaknesses in your family. On the surface, this may seem like a negative thing, but there can be no growth if we aren’t aware of things in our lives that need to be addressed.
Ideally, family worship will be a place where the family gathers to worship God but also to discuss things happening at school, church, and other spheres of life. Having this regular place to talk is valuable, especially as children reach adolescence and need a safe place to ask questions about life, faith, and family. A spirit of openness and simply having a time set aside for discussion will bring out things that may need to be addressed.
“A spirit of openness and simply having a time set aside for discussion will bring out things that may need to be addressed.”
Worship and prayer are difficult to fake, and a hesitant spirit or scowling face can often help us know that something is wrong with one or more of our children. It may be a problem they are having in their social lives, or it might be a problem with mom and dad that is exposed during family worship. Sometimes, when we gather for worship, it becomes a place where God exposes difficulties and sin that needs to be addressed.
If parents are rushing family worship so they can start their favorite TV show or other worldly activity, it can serve as a wake-up call to our spiritual priorities. If we are truly worshiping God, everyone, including parents, will be convicted and taught and shaped into the image of Christ. Part of that is having our weaknesses revealed so they can be healed.
5. Family worship will invigorate Christian marriages.
Another great blessing of family worship is that it has the potential to invigorate marriages. By its very nature, it brings husbands and wives together for a common purpose that is at the heart of God’s will for the family, and that practice will naturally strengthen the husband and wife relationship.
Sometimes, Christian husbands and wives can fall victim to the “silo effect” in their spiritual relationship. Both are godly and good disciples of Christ, but their spiritual growth rarely occurs together in a common spiritual activity; the husband follows his spiritual routine with a Bible reading plan or a group of friends that he prays with, while the wife similarly has her favorite radio program or Bible study that she is doing, but the two of them may struggle to pray together and interact with God’s Word. The spiritual oneness that God designed for marriage is often stunted by the husband and wife failing to spend time together in Scripture and prayer.
“The spiritual oneness that God designed for marriage is often stunted by the husband and wife failing to spend time together in Scripture and prayer.”
But a couple that commits to regular family worship with their children will see that spiritual exercise spilling over into their relationship with one another.
And who says family worship is only for families with kids old enough to participate? Our family was inspired to family worship in part by the godly example of an elderly couple who put us up for the night while we were on a road trip with our three young children. After dinner, they invited us to join them for their evening tradition of Bible reading and prayer. They were in the habit of worshiping God together, just the two of them, and they gave us a vision of couples growing together in Christ into their later years.
I believe that most Christian women want their husbands to lead the family spiritually. For a variety of reasons, however, Christian husbands often struggle to provide the spiritual leadership that comes with being the head of the home. A man who commits to leading his family in worship—and who follows through with it—will find himself more respected by his wife and more in tune with her needs, wants, and desires, which will result in a stronger marriage.
“A man who commits to leading his family in worship—and who follows through with it—will find himself more respected by his wife and more in tune with her needs.”
6. Family worship will provide training ground for worship in the assembly of the church.
When our children were very young, we spent a lot of time in family worship working on how to be still, pray, and listen to Scripture as it is read. Those early years paid dividends when we arrived on Sunday to worship with the rest of the church. Children who experience regular family worship know how to behave in the assembly because they have had a lot of practice in the home. They recognize and understand the rhythms of prayer and singing, and they can listen carefully to the proclamation of the Word.
Please don’t misunderstand me as saying family worship is just practice for the “real thing” on Sunday morning—that simply isn’t true. However, an obvious blessing of worshiping together at home is that it will positively affect your worship with the broader church.
This was excerpted from Darren Williamson, The Family Worship Guide: A Handbook for the Christian Home (Los Angeles: Keledei, 2020).