I believe God has clearly called parents to intentionally teach their children the ways of God (Deut. 6:7; Psalm 78:6; 145:4). But for some, the idea of family worship is a bit scary. Either they don’t know how to do it, or they think it means three hours every night of exegetical study through Leviticus.
But teaching your kids the Bible doesn’t have to be scary or boring or a drudgery. It can be simple. Here are five ways we implement it in our home:
1. Around the table. Sometimes we have family worship during dinner, and other times it’s during breakfast (especially if I’m home for those meals). We typically use a resource like Long Story Short by Marty Machowski, which we are currently using (You can listen to my podcast with him here). In the past, we’ve used other resources such as Leading Little Ones to God and Proverbs for Kids. I also highly recommend New City Catechism by The Gospel Coalition. These are just a few of the many great resources out there to help parents teach the Bible well.
When we do this around the table, it’s very informal. I usually read Scripture and offer some explanation, then I ask the kids questions about it. Sometimes we laugh, and sometimes we joke. We encourage our kids to ask questions. After we’re done, we usually pray. The table provides the perfect opportunity for this because we’re all gathered and enjoying God’s good provision of food and the grace of conversation.
2. With a hymnal or singing. We don’t do this as often as we do the above, but every once in awhile I’ll reach over and grab a hymnal, and we’ll sing some songs together as a family. It can be really fun. What I love about the hymns is that they ground spiritual truth into the hearts of our children. We also like to listen to Christian music in the car or at home. Oftentimes words will come up, especially with hymns, that need explanation. This is a great way to start discussions and share truth with our kids.
3. In everyday life situations. I love Moses’ instructions to the parents of Israel to teach God’s truth whenever their kids “sit down” and “rise” (Deut. 6:7; 11:19). I don’t think this is a legalistic exercise; it’s simply telling parents to use every opportunity that comes up in daily life to point to Jesus. We try to do this and are usually surprised by the great conversations that come up. As a parent, you don’t have to do this in a scolding, lecture-type way. You can be fun, witty, and conversational.
Daily life presents golden opportunities for conversations about the gospel and the character of God.
Daily life presents golden opportunities for conversations about the gospel and the character of God. And we’ve observed that sometimes these are more formative than the structured, sit-down, type of things we do. Our kids need to know that all of life is God’s, not just the space we reserve for him on Sunday. This is God’s world, and we live in it, to worship and glorify him.
4. Before bed. Many nights we’re able to do a lot of praying and try to have each kid pray in order to get used to the practice. Usually we ask our kids, “So, who do you think we need to pray for tonight?” We also try to pray for at least one missionary every night. It can be a bit chaotic keeping the kids from messing around during prayer, but there are some moments when one of our kids prays an incredibly honest, beautiful, heart-warming prayer to the Lord. Likewise, as their parents, we try to model sincere prayer in front of our children.
5. With reading literature. This may be a bit of a stretch since reading books other than the Bible may not technically be “family worship,” but it’s part of teaching. We try to introduce our kids to good reading, both classics and biographies. It's important for parents to be curators, finding and putting good resources in front of their kids. We also listen to a lot of audiobooks and radio theater productions in the car. There are a variety of ways to do this. It’s worth the effort in order for our kids to hear good stories and expand their wisdom and knowledge of God’s world.
Our family doesn’t do worship perfectly and is constantly finding different ways to implement it and new resources to use. There is no one way to lead your family in worship; every family has to figure out what works best for them. However, we should all strive to be intentional with our kids’ spiritual education.