Saturday, January 30, 2010

Family Worship is not just for those within Family-Integrated Churches

In the previous two posts in my series on the family-integrated church I addressed how those of us not in a FIC can make our Sunday school programs more Biblical, and how we can strive for the inter-generational relationships that are so much a part of the discipleship and ministry pattern we see in the Bible. Now, for my final post in this series, I want to consider how we can encourage and equip parents to have a church in the home where they instruct, catechize, and worship with their children. It has been my theory all along that it is not the one hour each Sunday morning that will determine whether a child grows into a “spiritual champion” (to borrow the term employed by George Barna in his book Revolutionary Parenting), but that it’s the daily spiritual heart beat of the home. Ken Ham tells us in Already Gone that young people who have been brought up in the church and going to Sunday school are leaving the church after graduating and not coming back (at least not as of their mid-20s). It’s estimated that a staggering 80% of the kids in our churches will leave and never look back. Shocking, isn’t it? But, what about the other 20%? That’s what the book Revolutionary Parenting is about. George Barna sought out these kids who were brought up along-side these other kids in the church, but didn’t leave. What was the difference with these “spiritual champions”? According to the adult children of revolutionary parents that made a spiritual difference in their kids’ lives, there was a “consistent effort and emphasis placed on spiritual growth” in the home that made an impression on their young minds. “Those adult children also noted that the example set by their parents continues to have an effect on how these young adults live today.” (p. 34) In other words, the parents of spiritual champions were concerned about spiritual matters at home, both for themselves and their children. These types of parents pray and read the Bible on a daily basis and discuss faith matters with their children. Christianity is not a once a week activity.

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.
Here’s what Henry says about the serious nature of this daily time in the Bible. “You must read the Scriptures to your families, in a solemn manner, requiring their attendance on your reading, and their attention to it; and inquiring sometimes whether they understand what you read.” (p. 35) Henry further argues about the importance of a daily commitment to reading the Scriptures. “Let me therefore with all earnestness press it upon you to make a solemn reading of the Scripture a part of your daily worship in your families. When you speak to God by prayer, be willing to hear Him speak to you in His Word, that there may be a complete communion between you and God.” (p. 37) This is so important it bears repeating. We cannot cry “Lord, help me, help me, help me.” Then lament that He doesn’t hear us, when we’re not reading His Word. That would be rather one-sided of us, wouldn’t it? We would be having a conversation with ourselves. I wonder how many Christians see it that way today.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Again, great post, you aren't afraid to say the hard stuff. I just read in chapter 2 of Deitrich Bonehoeffer's Life Together about family worship. Gave us some new ideas to try, and it was written in 1940!



Related Posts with Thumbnails
My photo
I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.