Use Your Family Worship to Prepare for Corporate Worship
I was first introduced to family worship by Don Whitney during a seminary class in 2015.
He explained its importance and provided a sketch of what it might look like in practice. Whitney’s playbook has three principal parts: read a passage of Scripture, pray, and then sing a song. It sounds simple—and it is—but it also packs a powerful punch. Since taking on this discipline, my family and I have enjoyed far-reaching spiritual benefits. Our minds are more regularly set on things above (Col. 3:2), and our kids learn about God’s Word and how to pray and sing to him.
The rhythms of family worship have taken on numerous forms over the years. Most recently, we switched up the routine by our time together as a family to focus on our gathering on the Lord’s Day. As Christians, we are commanded to gather with God’s people (Heb. 10:24–25). We wanted to be more intentional about anticipating this gathering throughout the week. So, while we continued reading Scripture, praying, and singing, we began to align these efforts with our church’s plans for Sunday morning gatherings. Let me explain.
We now read a portion of the passage our pastor plans to preach from on Sunday. Because we have small children, sometimes we may only read a verse or two. Nonetheless, spending this time as a family not only softens our hearts to that passage but also whets our appetites to hear the sermon. It also reminds us to pray for the preacher as he prepares.
Sunday-minded family worship involves praying different types of prayers throughout the week. One day we may praise God for something we read. The next day we may confess sin together. We pray a prayer of supplication every day, and we conclude by praying for fellow members from our church’s directory.
As my wife and I lead this, we help our children pray short prayers of praise and confession. They have learned to thank God for who he is and confess to him when they sin. Additionally, they have learned that they can ask him for things and that he will hear them. My kids are even learning to pray for our church’s members and their kids.
This practice prepares us for our Sunday gatherings. It also reminds us to reach out to fellow members to see how we can pray for them and express our desire to see them on Sunday.
Our local church helpfully provides a weekly playlist, so the congregation knows what songs we hope to sing. We love to sing these very songs during family worship. As we do this, we’re familiarizing ourselves with the music, meditating on the lyrics, and preparing to sing loudly with the congregation on the Lord’s Day.
My wife gets on the keyboard and I hop on the cajon. My kids love to grab toy instruments and play along with the music. This practice allows my kids to learn the songs we sing at church. Lord willing, the meaning of these songs will find its way from their minds to their hearts.
We typically do our family worship right after dinner. This schedule allows us to incorporate evening guests into the practice. We hope the Lord uses it to evangelize the lost and encourage our brothers and sisters to anticipate the Lord’s Day with us. We also mean for this routine to help our children get a head start on their transition from Children’s Ministry into the corporate gathering.
This practice is so simple and replicable that anyone can do it. The time can be as short or as long as people want it to be. The point is to worship as a household and prepare for gathering with the Lord’s people on Sunday.
As a movie trailer builds anticipation for a movie, I pray the Lord uses our family worship to grow our expectations for gathering on the Lord’s Day!