If most Christian parents are honest, we admit that worship does not have the place in our homes we would ideally like.
No one will say outright that we let others teach faith to our children and young people for us, but too often that is the default. Whether it is the hectic pace of life, not feeling up to the task or simply not knowing where to begin, many parents need a bit of gentle encouragement. So, stealing a structure from Gareth Crispin, one of the authors of Together With God: An Introduction to Family Worship, here are a couple of pointers:
1. Depend on God
This is not about parents being good enough, because our children’s faith does not depend on us – what a relief! But we do need to model a dependence on God by the way we walk with Him and in our own devotional life.
2. Keep it simple
Worshipping as a family doesn’t require 30 minute Bible studies every night, or sing our way through the hymnbook. We must start from where we are, not where we want to be, or where we think ‘other families’ are.
For instance, mealtimes are a traditional place to worship – not just a prayer of thanks for the food, but taking it in turns to thank God for something from the day past.To be intentional with your teenager, start talking to them more purposefully; when day to day issues of life come up in conversation, help them think about what God might have to say, and make sure you pray for and, ideally, with them.
3. Do what works for you
Every family is different, so there is no single secret pattern of success. We want to bring Scripture reading and prayer into daily life, but that can look different depending on our circumstances. The key is to work it into a daily routine, as we read in Deuteronomy 6: prayers as part of the journey to school, Bible reading at bedtime, intentional conversation at the dinner table (just sitting at the dinner table in the first place) are places to start.
And there are tools to help.Maybe keep in your car a CD like the Slugs and Bugs “Sing the Bible” to help your kids learn Scripture; download an app like the excellent Kids Bible App to help them learn the big picture of God’s Word; or buy your teen a suitable new Bible and offer to read it with them.
4. Start and keep going
It is easy to get discouraged if things don’t go as planned, or to never start because we make that first step too difficult. Pick something achievable and go for it – you can build over time. As one local family in the “Family Worship” book puts it “Keep it simple and just do it! Just go ahead and do it!”
One final comment for those reading this who are not parents: they need all of us to encourage them, resource them and stand with them. Christian parents are the primary disciple makers of their children, but we all have a part to play – what is yours?
Other resources for families and family ministry can be found HERE. Together with God by Ed Makenzie and Gareth Crispin is a collection of stories from different families which might encourage you. It is available at www.TogetherWithGod.org.uk, or from Evangelical Bookshop, Belfast and other outlets. PCI is not responsible for this website or its content.