These parents may be considered revolutionary by some, but the findings in Barna’s book are not. This is nothing new folks. Mathew Henry was preaching and writing about this over 300 years ago! Henry argued from the pulpit and then in his book entitled A Church in the House that all Christian families should establish a church in the house. “Churches are sacred societies, incorporated for the honor and service of God in Christ in two ways. First, they are devoted to God, and second, they are employed for Him. So should our families be.” (p.29) According to Henry, three things are necessary for maintaining a church at home.
1. Doctrine- Reading the Bible daily will be the primary means of establishing a right doctrine in the home. Other tools such as a catechism and even other books may assist you in this endeavor. For instance, we’re reading the book Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends right now as part of our church in the home. It is a precious book full of illustrations and encouragement from the Bible.
2. Worship- Families need to pray together and according to Henry they should pray specifically five things: acknowledge your family’s dependence on God and His providence, confess the sins of your family, offer up thanksgiving for family blessings, present petitions for the mercy and grace your family needs, and make intercessions for others as a family. Henry also recommends the singing of Psalms as a part of daily and especially Sabbath worship. We also teach our kids old hymns and even some praise songs while Big D accompanies on the guitar. This is by far our kids' favorite part of our church in the house. They love to pray and sing.
3. Discipline- I know this has become a dirty word in families today. Maybe an unspoken word and concept would be more like it. My kids and I watched Super Nanny on tv last night and it was quite eye-opening. My kids couldn’t over it and asked me repeatedly why the kids acted the way they did and why the parents acted the way they did. It’s so sad to see the devastating results of failing to discipline our children. However, Henry makes an especially convicting point about the goal of discipline. “The authority God has given you over your children and servants is principally designed for this end, that you may engage them for God and godliness. If you use it only to oblige them to do your will, and so to serve your pride, and to do your business, and so to serve your worldliness, you do not answer the great end of your being invested with it. You must use it to God’s honor, and use your authority to engage them as far as you can to do the will of God, and mind the business of Christ.” (p. 54) Ouch! How much of my kids being well-behaved is because my husband and I desire them to be used by God, and how much is because my husband and I prefer a peaceful and quiet home? I have to constantly remind myself that we are trying to pierce their hearts with God’s Word, not just trying to make our lives more manageable.
Family worship is not just for those within the family-integrated church movement. All Christian families should have a church in the house. The restoration of family worship to the home can revolutionize our churches. It’s time for a revival. It’s time our churches start looking like churches, and not like the rest of the world. It’s time we parents get serious about passing on our faith to our kids. It will not happen if we leave it up to others. It will not happen if ours is not a genuine faith that inspires and motivates us throughout the week. It will not happen if we continue to neglect the church in the home.